Ink Culture Ltd.
In 2005, the flash cartoon series Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf took the Chinese animation market by storm. Created and produced by Wing Keung and his team, the series boasts over 1,000 episodes and is currently the longest running cartoon series in China. In 2009, the series' first animated film was shown across Mainland China and grossed over RMB 128 Million, topping two American blockbusters—Madagascar 2 and Bolt—that were released in the same period.
Looking back, Wing Keung recalls his team's humble beginnings. "It was a risky move when I decided to enter the animation industry," he says. "We created the series using a minimal budget and simple technology. Young interviewees at our company were very worried – they loved manga, comics, and animation, but doubted our ability to be truly original. One interviewee even asked me not to lie to him if we were not going to come up with original creations." Despite these reservations, however, Wing Keung was able to recruit a team of passionate and energetic colleagues to join him. "One new designer was so excited about his work that he even started sleeping in the office so that he could spend more time on his designs!" shares Wing Keung laughingly.
Bolstered by the team's enthusiasm, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf's success was reached one step at a time. In the beginning, besides comic books, branded products did not capture much interest in the market. But as the ratings began to increase, more parents became aware of the series, which gave the production more opportunities and eventually enabled it to hit the big screen.
Wing Keung stepped down from his management position after the business reached a steady course. At that time, he took a friend's advice and joined the HKUST EMBA program, where he came to realize that it took more than artistic talent and creativity to run a company. "Thinking back, many of my business decisions were too spontaneous and lacked proper business thinking. My studies at HKUST made me realize these hidden risks and problems, and helped me become a wiser entrepreneur," he says. "A company needs investments to grow, but many investors asked me if I knew how to manage business finances. That's why I decided to go back to school. Only with solid business knowledge can I assure investors of good returns in the future.”
For Wing Keung, his biggest achievement as an original creator is the satisfaction that comes from his participation in the creative process and bringing the art piece to life. He and his team are now working on their next masterpiece, an animated, big-screen movie featuring a family of squirrels on an adventure drawn in the traditional Chinese ink painting style. Stay tuned!
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