Alibaba is the fifth company built by Jack Ma. After graduating from the Hangzhou Normal University, Jack became a college teacher. Later he started an English training school. It enrolled 20 students for Jack’s first class in the school. Unluckily for him, after three years, there were still just 20 students so he decided to close the school since he could not keep it running.
In 1992, Jack Ma opened Hope Translation Agency. To support the club at the beginning when it did not make any money, Jack Ma had to go to Yiwu (a city in Zhejiang province, China) and Guangzhou (a city in Guangdong province, China) to purchase goods and then went back to resell them. That is why there were flowers and presents for sale at the Hope Translation Agency. And Jack had also published medicine-related advertisements at his translation agency for almost one year, which included the advertisers like some big and famous hospitals and bare-foot doctors. With all these extra sources of income he finally earned enough money to cover the cost of the agency in 1994.
In the March of 1995, whilst in the United States, Jack Ma learned about the Internet from Bill, who was a foreign languages teacher from Seattle. Having been inspired by the US Internet, Jack gathered ¥20K (of which there were approximately ¥7k from his own and over ¥10K borrowed from his sister’s family) to build an internet business company, called China Yellow Pages.
Two years later, Jack Ma left China Yellow Pages when it was invested by Hangzhou Telecom. Then Jack joined the EDI, which is now the CIECC in China. But he left EDI very soon afterwards because of so many limitations by working for the government.
For most of us, it is too difficult to keep trying new businesses when suffering failure after failure because we begin to doubt ourselves. But Jack Ma was on the opposite. He is always saying that failure is the preparation for the success. It just means you need to do more work in the preparation stage when you fail.
In 1999, Jack Ma got 18 people together for a meeting in his apartment, and decided to build Alibaba (Alibaba.com), a new B2B company after China Yellow Pages, with a venture capital of $60K. It was the fifth time for Jack Ma to start a new company after the previous four closed. Ten years later, Alibaba’s market value reached $5 billion.
God helps those who help themselves. Jack Ma’s success with Alibaba after failing so many times before, is a very vivid illustration of his Lotus Rule.
[Lotus Rule]: In a lotus pond when the summer is coming, there is very few lotus flower opening on the first day. On the second day, the blooming lotus numbers are two times of the first day’s. And so on, the lotus’ blooming amount every day is two times of the previous day. No matter it is sunny, windy or raining, the lotus keeps blooming until they cover the whole pond. That’s lotus rule. It is also telling that the reason for a people to success is not because he is smart or lucky. It is because he persists in the things he does or likes, even he suffers the failure for many times.
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