Entrepreneurship has been a topic I’ve always been passionate about and I still am till this very day. Had the opportunity to meet Cehan through a networking event about a year ago and his passion and drive reminded me of how I was like when I first started out.
Today, we have the President of Alp Group Lujian to share with us their journey of starting up.
Lujian and I have also been on 938LIVE together before to share our story but for this interview, let’s hear from him on their progress so far since then and the ups and downs of starting a business.
1) Hey Lujian, the both of us are no strangers but for the benefit of our readers, share with us who you are and what business are you currently doing right now?
I’m a twenty-three-year-old student currently studying in Temasek Polytechnic. Currently, I’m serving as the President of Alp Group.
Alp Group has two main areas of focus, Alp Biz and Alp Investment.
Alp Biz – We aim to become the first-choice destination for Asian businesses to use Alp Biz as a springboard to connect with other Asian countries. We have identified four essential pillars to a successful business; Funding, Mentoring, Supplies and Market and we aim provide solutions for these areas.
Alp Investment – “Buy a wonderful company at a fair price”. Just like our tagline, Alp Investment’s main focus is on investing in the stock market. We aim to revolutionise the way people learn about investing and we cater to everyone with different information and courses, depending on how well each individual understands investments.
2) Tell us more about Alp Group! How did all of this begin?
Alp Group was founded by Cehan back in 2014, my secondary school classmate but back then, it wasn’t called Alp. Cehan called in a few other friends who were interested in investing and formed a community called bro’s investment club (we were all boys in the beginning) where we focused on learning about investing. We grew quickly and after about a year later, we had over a hundred members in our community!
Under the leadership of Cehan, we came up with our own unique way of analysing the stock market and 2015 was the year we invested our first ever stocks in SGX.
After we found success in the stock market, we realised there were many young people like us who were interested in investing but don’t have a clue on where to begin. This inspired us to spread our knowledge and experience to others.
We wanted to change the conventional way of teaching investing which were mostly through expensive courses and seminars with no follow up with the students after.
During this time, we also grew a community of business owners and start-ups where many of them were facing difficulties during the economic down turn. With all of this, we decided to go through a series of restructuring our organisation to address and tackle these issues, forming the current Alp Group you see today.
3) That’s interesting… Share with us more on the organisational structure of the company.
As mentioned earlier on, Alp Group has two areas of focus. In addition, we also have a department on marketing and publishing. We have four members in our upper management from each department and each team is led by an individual director.
Each department is able to run on its own but they work closely together as well, especially during certain events where collaborations between all departments are required.
4) What were some of the challenges faced when starting out and how did you and your team manage to overcome them?
The first challenge all of us face was the initial phase of starting out because everything was still very ambiguous. We were not sure about many things.
Another challenge for us was to find the right people for our team. We feel that working with a great team is the most important component in a successful business. It took us months to find right people that share the same vision and passion as us.
The most difficult challenge, and I believe other start-ups can relate, was how to turn our idea into a proper business.It took us quite some time to figure that part out.
Fortunately, we had many mentors that were very helpful and gave us tips along the way. Combining with the effort from the team, we were able to overcome these difficulties.
5) Let’s talk about teamwork. Understand that Alp Group has a management team of twelve, each in charge of their own department. How do you rally everyone to work together?
Over here, we put our teams first over all other matters. One of our favourite quotes is “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want far, go as a team”. All our team members share the same vision and passion so it’s much easier for us to communicate and work together as all of us share a similar goal.
6) Is it difficult working together in a team? How do you manage differing opinions?
It’s never difficult working with each other in the team as we are all closely knitted together, having the same vision in mind. By establishing this, we don’t have conflicts among us as we value every team member’s voice and opinion.
Whenever we have a differing opinion during a meeting, we’ll discuss and weigh the pros and cons of each, with every decision made in the best interest for the company.
7) What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or business owners when it comes to team-building?
I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned through this journey is when building a team, the key factor to look out for in a team member is the passion and vision. If he or she is able to share the same passion and vision, working together will be much more smooth sailing.
Another aspect I want to emphasise on is trust. You must always trust your teammates because they’re the one that got your back. Team work is like a machine, everyone has their own area of expertise. None of the pieces is more important than the other because it’s only when all of the pieces work together when the machine can function and run smoothly.
8) This has always been a burning question for me… How do you juggle being a full-time student and running a business?!
To be honest, it’s very difficult. The path of an entrepreneur is not easy. At times, I’ll reach home after midnight and exhausted but still with work waiting for me to complete. Most of the time, I sacrifice my sleep and rest.
I think what drives me on is the passion and responsibility. Passion is very important; it’s what keeps you going when you are feeling a burn-out.
Responsibility towards my team members helps me to pick myself up when I’m falling. I know for a fact that my team members trust me to deliver my part so it’s my responsibility to complete the task and not let them down.
It’s tiring but fulfilling. If you were to ask me, I’m living the kind of life I dreamed about since young!
9) What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs or “studentpreneurs” out there who wants to start their own business while pursuing their studies?
We are all creatures of habit and afraid of the unknown. Many of us are afraid of trying out new things, let along starting a business.
I believe that our youth is our greatest asset. Don’t be afraid to fail! Now is the golden opportunity for us to “fail” because it’s not always about the result but what you learn through the journey. Not all of us can succeed on the first try and whenever you are about to give up, think about what made you start in the first place.
We fell countless of times before we could first walk. Imagine, you had the courage to take the first steps when you were only a baby so what’s holding you back now?
Face your fear and step out of your comfort zone, only then can you truly grow and mature.
10) What’s the main goal you intend to achieve for Alp Group in 2017?
2017 is the year of execution for us and we already have a series of projects lined up.
For Alp Biz, we aim to establish collaborations with China and Malaysia. We’re also very keen to continue building a strong community of business owners.
As for Alp Investment, we will continue from where we left off last year and hope to maintain our track record of not making any losing investment from the time we first invested.
11) In your own words, what does it mean to “Love the Life You Live and Live the Life You Love”?
I think it’s about living life with passion. I think this sentence describes my life right now.
I love my life now because I’m pursing my dream, waking up every day knowing every second of my life is being used to pursue my “happiness”. I can proudly say I’m passionate about my life because it’s the kind of life that I want to live.
Don’t live a life where you leave regrets behind, enjoy the process of living the life you want to live and that’s when you’ll truly love your life!
“It takes teamwork to make the dream work”
I’ve been working closely with Lujian, Cehan and the team for a while now and I must say, I’m very impressed with the dynamics of the entire organisation. I’ve always wondered how they could work so fast and deliver with excellence.
Now I know the secret ingredient to their success so far and it all starts with attracting the right talent, having each individual team member aligned with the same vision, mission passion and purpose.
I gave a speech at Nayang Technological University recently on how youths are not leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today. Both Lujian and Cehan have demonstrated how age doesn’t stop you from pursuing what you want in life.
I’m really excited for what’s to come for this young company and young entrepreneurs. It’s a privilege for me to contribute to their organisation to make their vision become a reality.
All the best Lujian and Cehan, continue working hard and build an A-team to take your company to greater heights!
President of Alp Group
Lujian is serving as the president of Alp Group. Other than overseeing operational activities of each department, he’s also working on Alp’s trading sector, mainly dealing with China. He specialises in publicity and marketing.
Headquartered in Singapore, Alp Group is a registered company and established as a platform for businesses and investors in Singapore, which are known as Alp Biz and Alp Investment respectively.
Alp Biz strives to promote business connectedness in Asia. This is in line with SPRING Singapore’s vision to advance the globalisation of Singapore enterprises – while building connectedness of enterprises. Alp Biz is committed to becoming the first-choice destination for Asian businesses to use Alp Biz as a springboard to connect with other Asian countries. The four essential pillars to our approach: market, supply, funding and mentoring.
In addition, to accelerate the development of disruptive start-ups changing our world today, we have leveraged the most comprehensive cross-sector ecosystem to nurture the next generation of start-ups via our Alp Creation Programme in Singapore. Our extensive connections in ASEAN and China provide our start-ups an unparalleled access to the global market for growth and expansion.
Alp Investment aims to build an efficient and effective educational system for investors to learn how to “buy a wonderful company at a fair price”. This is because we strongly believe that education is a journey, not a destination.
Our purpose is to offer those who are ambitious for financial success an insight which will aid them to acquire money, keep the money and to make their surpluses earn more money.