Singlehood, the state of being unmarried or unattached, is a boon. Ask Jack Ma, mainland China’s richest man with a net worth of $38.6 billion as of August 2018. That does not even include his share in the recent earnings of Alibaba’s Global Shopping Festival which was pegged at $10B during the first hour alone. Last year, Alibaba hit a record $25.3B during its Singles Day sale.
November 11 or the single sticks “11-11” used to be a popular holiday among young Chinese who take pride in being single, until Jack Ma’s genuis turned this into a multi-billion shopping event worldwide. Ever tried shopping at Lazada, that online store that sells everything from coffee to electronics? Then you have contributed to this Chinese business magnate’s wealth. He now owns 83% of Lazada after infusing $2B in fresh capital to the largest e-commerce company in Southeast Asia.
This 54-year old startup business inspiration has been listed by Forbes as one of the world’s most powerful people. Such a feat, considering how he struggled to learn English by riding 70 miles on his bicycle as a tourist guide to practice his language skills to tourists for nine years. He had the statistics for failure—30 job rejections, 10 applications to the Harvard Schools Business all rejected—but he had the formula for success—perseverance.
When he was 30 years old, he went to the United States with friends and learned about the internet as was surprised that he could not find anything about beer from China or even anything about China. Ma, his wife and a friend started an “ugly” website with information from China, followed by so many other websites about Chinese companies. In three years the company made roughly $800,000.
Jack Ma got his first computer at 33, and never had coding experience when he started building websites. The slow internet connection did not even deter him. After a stint with a stable government job, he quit and with 18 friends, established a business-to-business marketplace now known as Alibaba with only 500,000 yuan. The company serves as a middleman between buyers and sellers online that makes a commission on every transaction. Today, it has a market value of $463B.
If there is one thing we could all learn from Jack Ma, it would be to act on our ideas even if we think society is not ready for it. “It is precisely because there are gaps in the world that entrepreneurs exist.”