We at Amped Asia encourage entrepreneurship, especially among Asian Americans. Check out how this 17 year old is breaking boundaries and controlling his future. Read on to find out more!
At face value Eddie Zhong seems like your typical Asian American teenager, but don’t let his baby face good looks fool you. This kid is going places, with or without a “traditional” education.
Eddie Zhong is currently 17 years old and has already successfully launched a tech start up company called Blanc which manufactures a product known as the Spark Smart Watch. The smart watch, which tracks your movements and can wake you if it detects you are asleep, was born out of a necessity Eddie saw through his older brother.
While Eddie’s older brother attended a prestigious private high school in China he was able to reach an impressive top 10% of his class. No small feat given the intense competition among a huge population that traditionally has valued education over most everything. Although his older brother’s high grades seemed to position himself for a bright future, an unforeseeable family tragedy gravely affected his ability to perform during the rigors of the Gao Kao college placement exam.
The Gao Kao is the Chinese equivalent of the SATS only much harder as it determines your placement in not only your college but potentially your choices for a career. The flexibility of an American high education system, where one can change majors seemingly at will, is a less afforded option for most Chinese students, making the Gao Kao one of the most stressful times for Chinese students preparing nearly their whole childhood to pass.
This is where tragedy meant triumph. Seeing his brother falling to fatigue that hampered his ability to finish the Gao Kao, Eddie was inspired to create a product that would help monitor one’s activity level and alert them to stay awake if needed in high stress situations.
Thus the Spark Watch was created. Through ingenuity and determination Eddie began researching how to create a prototype with NO funding and how to make his dreams a reality. He reached out to mentors, called in connections, and began a Kickstarter campaign to help fund his project, eventually leading to the creation of his company Blanc, a manufacturing line in Taiwan, and now the Spark Watch.
And did we mention he did this all while balancing high school with everyday teenage life? Pretty impressive since the most noteworthy thing I did during my teenage years was eat so much pizza that I got kicked out of an all you can eat buffet. But this is not about my accomplishments, this is about Eddie’s.
Now Eddie is 17, a time when most kids are preparing for the transition into adult life through higher education. While logic would dictate a student of Eddie’s ambition would attend college, he has instead opted to drop out of school during what is perhaps the most important time in a perspective college bound student’s life.
But like the Spark Watch, there is a reason. Eddie believes that since his company, Blanc, has proven to be a viable business, he hopes to earn a GED, put college on hold, focus on his business, and create Leangap. The latter being a summer entrepreneurial class program that will help students like him learn to become entrepreneurs themselves through hands on training and mentoring.
This six week course will help teach students how to start their own companies and like Eddie, make their business dreams come true.
Whether this move will prove successful or not, it is of course an interesting commentary on how our education system is helping or at times hampering the growth of young minds with great ideas. There is increasing debate whether college is truly a necessity these days vs. just an educational garnish that ultimately does not guarantee success. An expensive garnish at that considering the current tuition fees paired with a dismal job market modern day students are facing during an economic downturn.
But for Eddie, we are not too worried. When asked about his decision he has stated:
“At this point, its debatable whether I want to spend four years, and a lot of money at the end, to put my company on hold.”
A statement that seems to resonate with not only the millennial generation but successful business entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Michael Dell, and the late Steve Jobs all of which who did not finish their college educations.
We hope the best for Eddie and all young entrepreneurs out there who have taken the path less traveled. And for those entrepreneurs reading this make sure to check out Amped Asia’s own Entrepreneur Issue that discusses some helpful ways to aid in your success!
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