Local to Global: Entrepreneurship Spirit with Dr. Sunny Zhang

Mar 10, 2021

  • By Faith Potter

With over 1 billion users daily, the app of Instagram and it’s growth has increased annually since their start in 2010. Instagram has transformed from a casual and light-hearted form of social media to an informational database that shows the life of celebrities, sports teams, small businesses, and more. Instead of using Google, many millennials and gen-z will go to Instagram to gather their information from their favorite Instagram accounts. However, Instagram isn’t the only company that has consistently grown in popularity over the past few years. Other companies and applications such as Venmo, Uber, Pinterest, and Slack are all apps that have gained society’s admiration and attention. What do all of these successful companies have in common? It’s not that they started with a team of people, or that they can be downloaded onto a phone, but that they all began and launched during the Great Recession, a period of marked general decline observed in national economies that occurred between 2007 and 2009. The World Affairs Council of Houston had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sunny Zhang, a marketing professor at St. Thomas University, and the founder of ZLab, a company that partners with global and innovative creators to grow digital platforms. If you’re thinking of starting your own business or want to take on more of an individual role within your company, this seminar is for you. Dr. Zhang unpacks how to channel your entrepreneurial spirit, how to start your own business, breaking down marketing techniques within your business, and how to make your voice heard as an individual contributor in a big company or corporate setting.

What made companies that started during a recession like Instagram and Pinterest successful? They had an entrepreneurial spirit and used that to market their product. During the Covid-19 pandemic, companies and businesses all over the world have been suffering, and Dr. Zhang states that in order to keep a company growing and thriving during a time such as this, each individual’s entrepreneurial spirit needs to be alive and heard. Dr. Zhang then goes to show visual graphics on how to channel your entrepreneurial spirit. Starting a business or pitching an idea isn’t easy, but if you do it right, it can be very successful and just might fill the gap that society is looking to fill. With Dr. Zhang informing us about the hub-and-spoke model, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the four P’s that go into marketing, and how to address three specific gaps that you might face when starting your business, you will finish this seminar feeling inspired and prepared to utilize your very own entrepreneurial spirit.

When you ask someone why they want to start a business, they will usually respond by saying that they had an idea. According to Dr. Zhang, it’s much more than that. It’s not an idea that drives the entrepreneurial spirit, but addressing a problem with that idea. This is your time to start your business and address the gaps and problems that you see in society. “The future is here, and we need to embrace the future” (Zhang).