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After graduating from HKUST, most of Winston’s Computer Engineering classmates went into the world of IT, but Winston had other ideas, instead indulging his interest in finance and joining a trade finance company. This involved significant travel in China where he saw how hot the online leading market was. Hong Kong did not have similar online lending platforms despite the large number of SMEs in the city and the wide range of financial institutions.
Seeing a significant potential in this market, Winston established Qupital in March 2016 with his partner Andy Chan, whom he met at the basketball court just one month before. "We didn’t have it all planned out at the beginning. But if you think too much about what might happen then you won't take the first step," says Winston who has been named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2020. "My advice is don’t wait. There’ no perfect timing."
At the time, Qupital was to provide financing to SMEs struggling to secure loans from traditional banking institutions. However, in 2019, the company pivoted to focus on lending to e-commerce clients. Working with merchants whose sales are recorded online meant that data was already digitalized and easy for Qupital to use. The credit decision, as a result, becomes much more faster than ever. "As long as we have the data, everything can be explained. We know that our clients' sales are still growing and performance is good, which is easy to explain to our funders," says Winston who has seen many of his clients benefitting from the pandemic as people stay at home and shop online with the onset of the pandemic.
Expansion is afoot, with new branches planned in Yiwu, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, adding to existing locations in HK, Shenzhen and Shanghai. Then there is Southeast Asia to consider. With Amazon and eBay merchants already on board, there is potential for other big names, too.
"Running a startup or your own business, it's not the result that counts. It's all about process. It's what you gain on the journey that is invaluable and irreplaceable. No matter whether your business is a success or a failure, the journey is the most important thing," Winston says.
More about Winston in Alumni Magazine 2020 Summer Issue