Becoming a successful entrepreneur relies not only on one’s luck, but also on the support of like-minded entrepreneurial partners and a series of resources. In 2020, alumna Crystal Kuok graduated from  the Department of Communication of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Macau (UM), she established “2048(Macau) Co. Ltd.” (2048) in 2018 with two UM classmates. Through the incubation platform of the Institute of Collaborative Innovation (ICI) in UM, the team had successfully transformed the scientific brewing technique into market and production to produce a series of craft beers that integrate the flavors of tea and beer, becoming Macau’s first craft beer brand “Funny Eye Brewing”.

Meet with the entrepreneurial partners and take the first step in starting a small business

As Crystal recalled the idea of starting up her own business, she said, “I met my current entrepreneurial partners when I was living at Cheng Yu Tung College (CYTC). The residential college had created an enlightening environment for us to learn and exchange ideas with residential students from different majors and cultural backgrounds to enhance personal communication skills. CYTC has a strong entrepreneurial atmosphere and the tutors always share the entrepreneurship experiences with students, which exerts significant influence on our entrepreneurial motivations.” Crystal believed that the entrepreneurs should start their business from small platforms to gain more experiences. She expressed, “As we were students when we first set up our own business, we can only operate the business with limit time and money. At the beginning, we tried to set up stalls at the Kanggong Night Market on every Saturdays and Sundays to sell our own brand craft beers, we hoped to get our business off the ground with small amount of money, accumulate experiences to further improve the quality of our products based on the customers’ comments.”

Innovative and unique brewing ideas inspired by the fusion of eastern and western cultural elements

In addition, Crystal also gave explanations on the unique company name “2048”, as she said, “Year 2048 will be the 49th year of Macau’s return to the motherland, and the eastern and western cultures have been continuously integrating with each other over this period of time, which may help to carry out the brand vision behind our craft beers.” She hoped that the craft beer brand could exemplifies the integration process between the eastern and western cultural elements and also reflects the brand spirit of vitality and fun, thus she decided to name the craft beer brand as “Funny Eye Brewing”. As she expressed, ““Funny” stands for subversion and escape, it implies people should boldly subverting the conventional world, without fear of breaking any rules. “Eyes” stands for exploration and embrace, unbridled exploration of impossible and embrace all sides of the world. “Funny Eye Brewing” stands for the extension and combination of imagination and reality, which aims to brew craft beer with dreams, creativity and possibility.” Under the guidance of two residential college professors, the incubation team had integrated traditional beer brewing techniques from the West and tea brewing methods from the East and produced craft beers blending with traditional tea, dried flower and fruit tea. They aim to create a series of craft beers titled “Funny Eye Brewing” in favor of Macau’s local culture, as well as the feature of technological innovation. She added, “We hope to use our unique brewing technique to reflect the brand’s vision of integrating the eastern and western cultural features, therefore, we had come up with the idea of combining beer and tea to carry out the traditional cultural elements of both sides.”

Create strong brand positioning through the incubation platform

In order to promote the transformation of scientific research and the development of industry-academia collaboration, ICI was established in UM in 2017. It aims to serve as a platform to provide support for UM teachers, students and alumni, as well as providing a full range of consultation and supporting services for entrepreneurs, which can help them to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams through transferring their creative ideas into the market. Crystal expressed that as they hoped to lay a solid foundation for the brand in the early stage of development through the incubation platform. She said, “When we first established the brand, we only had little understanding of the strategies for brand promotion and marketing and thus we hope to learn these strategies from the centre to further enhance the brand reputation.” The team had received many aspects of support from the platform and Crystal admitted that the support from the centre had brought the company to what it is today. As she mentioned, “We are very appreciated for the help and training provided by the centre in the early stage of incubation and it has provided us a platform to transfer our entrepreneurial ideas into the market. In addition of providing entrepreneurial advice, the tutors of the centre also led us to participate into those overseas training programmes, which could help us to further broaden our horizons.” On the recommendation of the tutors from the centre, Crystal’s team had participated into the “2020 Bank of China Trophy One Million Dollar Macao Regional Entrepreneurship Competition” and won the championship. She said, “The team’s entrepreneurial ability and confidence have been strengthened after winning the competition. Furthermore, besides of increasing the brand’s visibility in the market and obtaining cooperation opportunities with different enterprises, we also received many valuable suggestions from the judges and experts through this competition, which are very useful for us to consolidate the brand’s positioning with related marketing strategies.”

Set foot in the Greater Bay Area market

 “2048” has been in operation for two years and soon became renowned in Macao; the team has successfully reached cooperation agreements with many local hotels and enterprises. Talking about the company’s future development direction, Crystal said, “In order to increase the production capacity, we are planning to open a local brewery in Macao. Besides of continuing to participate into the local trade exhibitions, we will also cooperate with the local restaurants for opening showrooms in the restaurants. After stabilizing the local customer base, we also hope to expand our business to the Greater Bay Area to let more people know about the uniqueness of this local craft beer brand.” She also reminded the alumni who plan to set up their own business should have a good understanding of the market development trends and brand positioning strategies, be brave enough to start and keep moving towards the goals to build up your own brand gradually.  She thanked for opportunities and supports provided by the alma mater throughout the entrepreneurial process, which helps the team to exemplify its strengths and overcome the difficulties and challenges during the entrepreneurial process.