By Surabhi Sharman and Elvira Correa
Chineasy as the name suggests is an easy way to read Chinese through visual cues. Chineasy comes in forms such as books, e-books, flashcards, postcards etc. Chineasy uses the building block method to help learners build new words, compounds and then phrases. Unlike many other languages, each character in Chinese has independent meaning. Chineasy has developed illustrations around characters to help people recognise and memorise the meaning of the character. Although Chinese has thousands of characters, one needs only about 200 to be a basic literate. The idea is to illustrate characters in a way that they look stylistically good and consistent and help people learn the language.
The implementation of the visual methodology is developed in partnership with the graphic artist Noma Bar. He is a well-known Israeli born graphic designer who describes his work as ‘visual communication’.
Chineasy was presented in a TED talk in 2013 in California. After that about 8,000 people asked for more information.
2. ShaoLan Hsueh, the entrepreneur:
The creator of Chineasy is ShaoLan Hsueh, a Taiwanese daughter of a calligrapher and ceramist, a writer and entrepreneur. After moving to study an MBA in Cambridge University and become mother she realised the difficulty faced by learners in trying to learn Chinese. The idea to Chineasy developed as she sought creative and fun ways to help her own children learn the language.
“It was all driven by a frustration that my kids just didn't have the patience to learn Chinese,” says Hsueh, who struggled to keep the attention of her UK-born children with the usual language tapes, books and games. “I realised none of the teaching aids out there would work, so I decided to make one myself.”
She started decoding and understanding the meaning of Chinese characters with a computational model. Soon, she realised that Chineasy could be used as a tool to bridge gaps between the east and the west. With the growing importance of Asian especially Chinese markets, it is relevant that more people learn the language but the barriers of complexity have been deterring a lot of people. The goal is to allow people to learn Chinese in an easy manner through illustrations.
3. Kickstarter Campaign: The use of crowfunding campaigns is common in self-starters.
Despite the success of the first book, in order to increase the number of characters she launched a campaign in the crowdsourcing platform, Kickstarter. With the aim of rise 70,000 pounds she made a video explaining WHY this cultural entrepreneurship should be founded: After 5 months, there were donated almost 200,000. Therefore has been recognised as a successful crowdsourcing campaign:
"I learnt a lot from the crowdfunding experience," she says. "Reaching our goal with weeks left to go was such an incredible moment. It meant we could really rev up production and most importantly it showed that people wanted to learn” (Hsueh in http://businesslife.ba.com/Ideas/Features/The-benefits-of-crowdfunding.html)
1. Good idea that emerged because of a need: teach her children
Have she followed the ‘basic entrepreneurial actions’: Opportunity, recognition, creation, innovation and equilibrium? (1)
2. Inspirational TED talk / “sell a story”
Because of the novelty and uniqueness of this type of ventures entrepreneurs and self-starters lack of legitimacy. Thus is needed a story in order to legitimise it for investors and public. “Stories play a critical role in the process that enable new businesses to emerge”(3)
· What is the story that she is telling?
· With whom she has to legitimise her adventure?
· What is the context? “Entrepreneurship is a context-dependent social process” (3)
3. Analysis of her resources: language, culture, education, context, economic capital, social connections, time etc.
To what extend primary and secondary education should include in their programmes entrepreneurial education? The skills needed for entrepreneur can be learned? If so, are those skills for developing a story? That means that entrepreneurships are well done constructs? (1) (3)
4. Funding through Crowdsourcing: no access to capital markets.
Traditionally initial investment came from geographical proximity of the investors. What other ways are for extend funding beyond family, friends and fans, when you not have access to capital markets, angels or entrepreneurs funding? (2)
Internet use for funding exclude potential investors but also markets becoming less geographically independent. Internet has reduced the role of distance (specially in economic transactions) – flat world hypothesis.
5. Established in a city that encourages entrepreneurship: London
To what extend the country and, in specific London and its institutions have allowed the emergence of this project? (4)
(1) Frameworks for Educating the Artist of the future: Teaching habits of mind for arts entrepreneurship” (Essig 2013)
(2) Entrepreneurial finance and the flat-world hypothesis: evidence from crowd-funding entrepreneurs in the arts” (Agrawal et al. 2010)
(3) Cultural entrepreneurship: stories, legitimacy, and the acquisition of resources” (Lounsbury and Glynn 2001)
(4) Cultural Innovation and Entrepreneurship in London (City of London and Cultural Label 2014)