Twenty-year-old Jasmine Xie knows a thing or two about time management. Though busy finishing her last year at the University of Edinburgh, the international relations student is also running the branding and creative marketing agency she founded at age 19.
Xie’s company, Nova Universal, connects young creatives with companies and small-to-medium enterprises in need of marketing and branding services. Campaigns have ranged from branding for start-up fashion labels to an Insta Meet at EAST Beijing where members of Instagramers Beijing led a photo walk around the hotel to increase publicity for both parties.
A native of Vancouver, Xie and her family moved to Dalian when she was 13 years old. After transferring to Saint Paul American School (SPAS) two years later, she completed enough credits to skip Grade 11 and founded the student media department in Grade 12. We emailed this young overachiever to learn more about her development as an entrepreneur.
Tell us a bit about your family. How did their parenting style foster the traits that helped your growth as an entrepreneur?
Both my mother and father are entrepreneurs based in Beijing. Growing up with entrepreneurial parents definitely fostered an entrepreneurial mindset. Through them, I learned to look at things differently, understand the importance of time management, and not let stressful situations get to you.
How did Nova Universal start?
Nova Universal was founded in the summer of 2014. The founding team is composed of friends who shared the same interest in creative marketing. Members have come and gone, but two people from the original team remain: Katherine Wei and Uchenna Samuel. Without them, this company would not be what I hoped it would become. Our network of young creatives comes from events that we have held as well as luck, personal contacts, and social media.
Where does your appreciation for creativity come from?
This comes from my friend circles as well as my own hobbies of photography and writing. My interest for writing started at SPAS, where I had an amazing world literature and speech teacher – Mr. Krieger – who fostered my creative writing skills. The latter are incredibly important in business when dealing with pitches as well as in marketing in general. He also sparked my inner feminist by teaching me that women can aim for that boardroom as long as they put their minds to it. This notion is especially important in China, where women in entrepreneurship face many obstacles that men do not.
I’m also grateful to Dr. Jordahl and Mr. Chederquist, who supported me in pursuing the student media department, and Mr. Jason Gable, my drama teacher at the time. He was incredibly creative and I think a large part of that rubbed off on me.
Tell us about the student media department you founded as a student.
SPAS didn’t have a student-run media outlet where students could access news and information on what was going on in the school. After I pitched the idea [of a media department]to the vice-principal (Mr. Kevin Chederquist) and the principal (Dr. Steven Jordahl), they were both very supportive. SPAS fostered a community that encouraged students to voice their ideas, no matter how crazy.
The media department put out a weekly newsletter run by a great team, which I led. Students ranged from tenth grade and up, reporting on news within the school as well as in the world that would be educational to their peers. We also helped the student council with events like prom and sports meets by acting as the communications department.
What did you find most challenging about setting up the department?
Probably the process of setting it up. The team and I had no idea how to use Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign. We slowly learned how to set up a schedule, divide the tasks, and figure out our operational structure and deadlines. It was like a mini-news agency. Compared to setting up the department, I barely remember what we reported.
How do you apply the insights you gained then to the running of a business today?
I learned that being productive is the key to innovation. That sounds so cliche and like something that you would find in a self-help book, but it’s true. Another important lesson I learned was that company culture is a key ingredient to a nice work environment, which translates into a productive team – which translates into great products.
How would you encourage budding entrepreneurs to make the most out of their time at school?
Get involved with your school and community. Not only will you make wonderful memories, you’ll also have a killer list for that college application. Get to know your teachers; they’re real people with real experiences and a lot of knowledge about life that can guide you in the future. If it weren’t for the great mentors I had in high school, I don’t think I’d have my current entrepreneurial spirit.
What is next?
I will be pursuing a Master’s in Management and hopefully joining a large marketing and advertising agency to learn the “tricks of the trade” from real experts. I hope to keep Nova Universal going as a professional hobby in the hopes of coming back to it full-time in a few years.
To find out more about Nova
Universal, visit www.novauniversel.net. The company also maintains Twitter (@NovaUniversal), Instagram (same handle), Weibo (weibo.com/novauniversal), and Facebook accounts (www.facebook.com/novauniversalltd). Contact Jasmine Xie at 186 0005 6889.
This article originally appeared on page 56-57 of the beijingkids November 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.