Curated by Alibaba Business School

From Hupan University

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On 30th May, Jack Ma gave school badges to 49 freshmen at the opening ceremony for the 6th class of Hupan University.

More than 200 alumni and board members of Hupan University gathered and listened to the sharing from some upperclassmen about how they had responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in the past 4 months and how they took responsibility and helped one other. They also shared their advice to the incoming class.

Jack Ma expressed his pride in what these alumni did during the outbreak and shared some encouraging words to all, "Entrepreneurs should take up responsibility to society. When all other people feel hopeless, we, the entrepreneurs, should have hope and confidence. We should have more faith in the future than anyone else especially during tough times."

"Believing in the future does not mean blind optimism, but means that we should have a more comprehensive and stable thinking mode to deal the current uncertainty. Start-ups and entrepreneur are different. Startup should be fearless while entrepreneur should be cautious. Start-ups are always seeking opportunities while entrepreneur should be anticipating potential disasters. Start-ups need raw talent while entrepreneur constant polishing.

Here are some excerpts of Jack's sharing.

Entrepreneurs need to have more faith in the future than anyone else

We had many exemplary examples during the pandemic. The collaboration among Mr Song Yingchun from class 1, Mr Pang Shendong from class 4, Mr Hu Haiquan from class 3 and many other classmates in delivering resources to the front-line. Same as everyone here, I feel extremely proud of what our community has achieved.


The response and actions from the Hupan community reflects the spirit and value of entrepreneurship.

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Entrepreneurs have to be the ones to stand up and face crises.  What we are proud of is the entrepreneurship quality and spirit that we have nurtured together rather than how many entrepreneurs we have recruited. I believe this is the true value of our education.


We are all entrepreneurs looking to create value for society and change the future. We need to have faith and belief when everyone else has lost theirs.

Diving and swimming are two different skills

Many of our fellows are still quite young. You have to learn from our older generation of entrepreneurs. In a very cruel and challenging situations, we continue to learn and progress, and never give up.

Don't do investment in haste when you just start making money, and glamorize it as diversified investment and operation.

Don't think you can swim a fast 200-metre distance just because that you can dive, these are two different skills. Many people regard luck as intuition, and as their own ability or simply good fortune. Disregard these things. In fact, for many people, business diversification means they don't know what they have to do. These days, many people are saying that the Internet is about decentralization. Decentralization does not mean no center, but rather to let every small organization and small center play a central role.

What do you need to focus on as an entrepreneur? Customers, employees, relationship chains, or ecological chains? And how do you identify customers quality? How do you control costs? How do you improve employees?

Start-up and entrepreneur are different

Start-ups are different from entrepreneurs. There are many start-ups in China, however not many great entrepreneurs.  

The IQ and EQ of start-ups are usually not bad, however besides these, they also need to have high resistance to challenges, abilities to "love", and think logically to build up the organization.  

Start-ups need talent, but entrepreneurs need to be trained through tough challenges. Start-ups usually need to think by themselves, however entrepreneurs and bigger organizations, need to think with their teams even by leveraging the whole society.  

Start-ups usually rely on themselves, however entrepreneurs need to work with teams. Start-ups create values for themselves, but entrepreneurs need to create values for society. The bigger issues you are trying to solve and the bigger responsibilities you are to take, the bigger size of your company will become. However not many people can make it. Start-ups see chances while entrepreneurs will see disasters and they need to even anticipate them.  

Start-ups are always bold enough to do everything. However, entrepreneurs are usually quite "timid", this is not saying they don't do things, but they need to know what they should not do and when should they do the right things.  

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When risks come, it is the time when true entrepreneurs are born. Many of you are already good start-ups however you still need to know how to be a great entrepreneur, how to make enterprises great, how to take responsibility, tackle challenges, solve issues, and train your team to endure challenges.  

This is not networking

We are not here to teach how to manage a company, but how to be a better entrepreneur. We want to share with you when we should change and what must be changed.

It's not a place to provide answers, it's a place to inspire each other to think. We hope we can inspire each other, learn from each other and explore together, and facilitate peoples thinking on some key issues.

I hope that this place will become a mirror, reflecting what you know, what you don't know, and even more important, what you don't know you don't know.

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We are not here to teach you how to make money but how to create value, how to face challenges and how to resolve challenges. I insist we should teach the cases on failure. It does not mean you can avoid failure, but when you face failure, challenge and suffering, you will know how to deal with it.

This is not networking, this is a place to exchange ideas.

Alibaba Business School's vision is to empower entrepreneurs, women and youth globally through the education and training programs on the digital economy and the benefits it brings to larger society.