VTC Alumni Making a Difference - Zero Wong: Vocational Education - Key to entrepreneurship
Published Date : 2021-03-31
Some say the future belongs to the young. However, can young people really grasp the opportunities in their time and the future? Zero Wong, the founder of AESIR, has been working tirelessly to apply his knowledge, which obtained in VTC’s vocational training, on changing the future. Once a secondary school dropout, a lost soul addicted to video games, how did he identify his unique competitive position, start his own business, make a name for himself, give back to the society, and keep on helping more people? Whether you’re an entrepreneur in the making, or you’re about to make a change in the face of crucial life decisions, this story is a must-read you can’t afford to miss.
From school dropout to tech-for-social-good start-up founder
Compared to the vast, sublime universe, humans are tiny and insignificant. Even though we can only make baby steps ahead, we still wish to go as far as we can. Zero Wong, the founder of a tech-enabled social enterprise known as AESIR, used to be a recluse who withdrew from all social contact for two years after dropping out of school after completing Form 3. One day he happened to reflect on his own life, decided to pull himself together and enrolled in courses to equip himself with necessary skills. “I took a Japanese course and a computer course. I taught myself programming in the animation software Flash. I started working full-time at the age of 18 and tried almost everything within my reach – logistics, clerical jobs… you name it. And I asked myself, is it the way I want to live the rest of my life?” Zero then decided to go back to school and study something that really interested him. He was admitted to the Diploma of Vocational Education (Information Technology) at VTC Youth College, and then went on to work towards his Higher Diploma in Game Software Development at IVE. That was the moment when his life took a drastic turn for the better.
"The programme at VTC was a major challenge for me – a 19-year-old going back to school without taking the HKCEE and HKALE. I might have done slightly better in computer programming, but I was struggling with all other subjects. Fortunately, I got help from my lecturers and classmates. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known I got the talent and wouldn’t have got the opportunities to excel myself.” Zero made huge leaps in academic terms, ending up earning a scholarship before graduating from VTC. He went on to pursue a top-up bachelor degree jointly offered by the School for Higher and Professional Education (SHAPE) and the University of the West of England Bristol (UWE Bristol) and graduated with flying colours.
Highs and lows in life open up more possibilities
After winning a competition, Zero used the money awarded as his start-up capital to found a social enterprise with his partners. Conceivably, starting a business is not all sunshine and roses. “People think being your own boss is a big honour, an indication of your competence and ability. But in fact, it’s just the beginning of a series of challenges.” According to Zero, keeping a business afloat entails not only a way to generate profit, but also immense knowledge on operation, promotion and the like. “I blew all the prize money I won instantly. I was so broke that I only had a few hundred dollars in my pocket, with no working capital whatsoever. Even my family found it hard to believe.”
Coincidentally, Zero and his partners got their first project thanks to their connections. “We visited a Special Education Need (SEN) clinic and came across foreign reports pointing out the positive effects of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in stimulating the sense of vision among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There wasn’t any related service in the market at that point. That’s why we took the opportunity and ventured into the market by integrating technologies in the educational products and services while building up our brand.”
Study for practical uses and benefits of society
In the era of new media boom, workers in the information technology and multimedia sectors are keenly sought after. Graduates from respective programmes also have more choices in terms of career paths and career development than before. With both professional dexterity and acumen to run a business, Zero is considered at the top of every head-hunter’s target list. Yet, he insists on his journey and keeps running a social enterprise. “I enjoy helping people as it gives my job meaning and purpose. Though being an entrepreneur means spending less time with my family, my wife is not complaining and is certainly proud of what I do. I believe there is more upside to it than not.”
As the Chinese proverb goes, “One could never achieve huge success as an employee.” Everyone knows the logic behind. But if you don’t lay a solid foundation when starting a business, or if your passion wears off quickly, it would be tremendously difficult for your enterprise to thrive. Looking back on his career, Zero believed the steady growth of their company can be attributed to their ceaseless efforts in expanding their professional network and their insistence on developing products catering to those with special educational needs. His life experience and career path may be more convoluted than most, but he exercised life-long learning, and has continuously been re-adjusting his expectation and equipping himself, he managed to deal with life at his own pace, just like the business motto he shared – there is no path you can’t tread; what matters is whether you want to head down that path or not.