“Observe the issues family and friends face every day and look for a solution. Be patient, and be prepared to work hard.”
While completing a Master of Finance at UTS, Tony Zhuang started an online venture selling eyewear with two friends. Now he runs an award-winning global business with 130 employees across three offices worldwide.
“We aimed for a global e-commerce business from the beginning,” says Tony. “We didn’t limit ourselves to one market.”
The friends launched Motion Global, which runs SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group, in 2006. The business sells prescription and designer glasses, sunglasses and contact lenses, and has won the Australia-China Business awards two years in a row.
Soon after graduating, Tony moved to Shanghai to open the company’s first office. “That was really exciting and rewarding,” he says. “It’s a great feeling to be starting something that’s yours.”
But it wasn’t always that way. Tony initially studied law in China and even secured a graduate position in a legal firm. He decided it wasn’t for him. “There wasn’t the space to use your skills and creativity.”
Although he was keen on e-commerce, he decided to study at UTS because he was also interested in banking. “I wanted to try something different, experience a different culture and get to know people from a different world,” Tony says. “I wanted to expand my horizons.”
Soon after arriving in Sydney, Tony enrolled in an English course. He was paired with an Australian student and they soon discovered a shared interest in e-commerce. Before long, conversation turned to how they could develop a business together.
Then one day, Tony’s roommate complained about buying new glasses. Not only did the shop have a narrow range of frames, the turnaround time was ludicrously long.
Tony and his two friends got to work, turning his bedroom into their first customer call centre. Their online business produced lenses at a central lab and sent them all over the world.
At UTS Tony says he learned skills such as communication, critical thinking and collaboration through group projects that have helped him run his business.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: observe the issues family and friends face every day and look for a solution. “Be patient, and be prepared to work hard,” he says.