Ricky Lai plans on creating the next Hello Kitty. His quirky Capsubeans are his latest creation, born out of a mobile game.
What’s your story?
After my graduation in London, I went back to Hong Kong to work as an indie mobile game developer. I had read many success stories like Angry Bird and thought this was the way forward. I worked on four game ideas in total. However, none of the games were published because I lost faith in every game idea half way through the development.
Our characters the Capsubeans were created whilst I was working on the last game idea. I loved the look of the Capsubeans characters. Therefore, I rethought the whole idea and decided to shift my focus to strengthening our intellectual property and tapping into the licensing industry.
What excites you most about your industry?
Character and entertainment licensing are prominent in the licensing industry. However, there are not many characters from Asia which have been as successful as the big players like Hello Kitty and Pokémon in the western world. It is not only exciting imagining that Capsubeans could be the next Hello Kitty, but it’s also fun to collaborate with different brands and companies to create a lot of merchandise. What’s even more exciting is that, although there are many uncertainties, there are unlimited possibilities to extend your brand into new categories or geographical markets with relatively small risk through licensing.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and grew up in Hong Kong and I have traveled to Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. The Hong Kong startup community has grown very quickly in the last 2 years and there are lots of networking events held throughout the year. This puts Hong Kong at the forefront of connections and communications, therefore making it easier for entrepreneurs to meet their potential partners and investors.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Think big, start small, act fast and believe in what you do.” This advice is fairly self-explanatory and applies to every entrepreneur out there. First of all, you need to have a clear goal on how large your business can scale up to. However, you have to start small in order to test the market, and that’s why we’re only focusing on Hong Kong and Taiwan at the moment. Also, if something goes horribly wrong at some point, don’t panic, stay calm and find a solution. Also, you need passion and to believe in what you’re doing in order to enjoy the process of starting a business.
Who inspires you?
My uncle. He always told me, being an entrepreneur is more fun than being just an employee, but way harder. However, when it comes to success, the sense of achievement of an entrepreneur is a lot more than an employee. That inspired me to create something myself.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Best Buy used to have a fake internal website that looked exactly like their actual website, but with marked up prices, so that they could price gouge in-store customers!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started my own business when I was still a student. There is nothing to lose at that age and it’s the quickest way to learn about an industry by trialling it. Even if I had failed terribly, I would have still learnt something out of it.
How do you unwind?
When my brain gets stuck, I like to hit the gym. It allows me to ease up my mind from work and to focus on just one thing. If I feel physically tired that day, I will go to a coffee shop nearby and sit outdoors. I like to watch people passing by while having a cup of coffee.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Kyoto. It’s a great city where the modern and traditional coexist. You can choose to sit down and sip your green tea for the whole day near the temples or you can choose to do some retail therapy in the city center to reduce stress from work. It’s best to go to Kyoto during the maple leaf season in Autumn. The view is absolutely beautiful and it’s very calming. Most importantly, I love Japanese food. In particular, kaiseki.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. Pixar’s president Ed Catmull first begins this book by explaining how he founded Pixar and his partnership with Steve Jobs. The majority of the book is about how he manages Pixar, keeping every employee happy and at the same time keeping a very creative culture in the company. It’s a very educational and entertaining book to read.
Shameless plug for your business:
Capsubeans are a group of carefree and silly cartoon characters living in a far away planet outside our solar system. They are shaped like beans and they are born in capsule machines, and therefore they are called the Capsubeans.
The Beans are not very good at holding in their poop, but fortunately their poop color is pink! But why pink? It’s because they eat a lot of strawberries and drink lots of milk!
Capsubeans were created in May 2015. We are currently focusing on social media content and 2D animations, aiming to be the next hottest property in the licensing industry! You can find out more about Capsubeans here!
Official Website: http://www.capsubeans.com
How can people connect with you?
You can visit our website: http://www.capsubeans.com/
Feel free to contact us on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/capsubeans
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/capsubeans
Or Email us at [email protected]
@capsubeans – But we are not very active on Twitter.
We are more active on Facebook and Instagram – @capsubeans
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>
Connect with Callum here:
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com