September 4, 2017
By the university’s gates opened a “Utopia”.
Utopia
Is a western restaurant.
This name
Is a name given by a group of WKU dream chasers.
They started up their own business here
With fiery passion and relentless drive
They brought their dream into realization.

Why is the “Utopia” created?

WKU sits in Li’ao Street, Ouhai District outside of the city area, yet at the same time houses approximately 100 foreign teachers and 2000 students.

Regardless of the dietary habits, everyone has differing dietary preferences, and as such it is somewhat of an unpleasant experience for the students to dine with rather limited options in the university canteens.

Two WKU international business majors, one senior and other junior, Zhang Qianwei, and Sun Huabin, respectively, spotted this demand and found a vacant house in front of the school gate. As such, they began the plan which would ultimately open “Utopia,” western restaurant, and target students of WKU.

乌托邦股东some photos of the shareholders

The 24 members of “Utopia” 

The journey of creating a business, from an idea to actualization, is a difficult one, especially for college students who haven’t gone out into the society.

The first challenge for opening a restaurant-Where to get funds?

Zhang Qianwei and Sun Huabin thought of the reach of WeChat Moments, so they decided to raise funds through crowdfunding. To their surprise, they got enough funding within a few hours after posting the message on WeChat Moments. More than 20 WKU students contributed their internship income and pocket money ranging from 5,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan.

“They are so kind. We often have fun together, but I am surprised they also want a startup. That is really great.” Talking of this, Zhang Qianwei felt somewhat touched.

Currently, 24 students have invested in the Utopia, and they feel confident about the rosy prospects of the restaurant.

To start a successful restaurant, a good chef is needed. As Utopia serves many western customers, the food offered has to be authentic western-style. Zhang Qianwei and Sun Huabin looked for suitable chef among friends who run a restaurant. Furthermore, they posted recruitment ads on the internet with accommodation provided. Eventually, they invited an experienced chef who worked in a western restaurant in Shanghai.

In addition, in order to get stable and reliable suppliers, Sun Huabin and Zhang Qianwei dealt with many food vendors. Finally, they chose suitable suppliers from the huge list available.

Such valuable experiences matured these young entrepreneurs, as they began to deal with people from different walks of life.

“Relaying” Utopia 

Utopia is not merely a restaurant but also a student startup team.

The founder Zhang Qianwei is in his senior year and will graduate soon.

In fact, many sophomores and juniors are joining “Utopia” and are running the restaurant in a creative way.

“Utopia” Story

Q:Student Media Center journalist  A:Utopia founder Zhang Qianwei

Q:Do you have any bitter story during the Utopia founding?

A:We were maliciously reported when the restaurant was about to open at the end of this August. Before Utopia opened, Utopia’s food was reported to cause diarrhea in a costumer, which made me confused. Soon afterwards, our restaurant was thronged with inspectors from the Administration for Industry and Commerce. It took us about one month to finish the onerous inspections. Though it was finally solved, that was a really hard and bitter experience for us.

Q:Any moving story?

A:When the Utopia was opened, schoolmates and teachers helped us tweet the opening message. It was retweeted several thousands of times, which hugely increased the popularity of Utopia. In addition, we are grateful for the support from WKU. WKU Admissions Office, RA and other departments often dine together at Utopia. This is of huge significance and brings us a handsome profit. In addition, we appreciate the staff’s help in managing the organization’s affairs, such as calling in plumbers, trying new dishes, etc.

What do they say about Utopia? 

WKU Director of Registrar Office, Kenneth Wolpin is a “loyal fan” of Utopia since it offers students and teachers more choices. Kenneth thinks Utopia is a successful case to point to in which students put what they have learned into real business world. When it comes to Utopia, he feels glad and proud and hopes WKU will do its best to help students.

Chen Zhiye, an experienced staff of WKU Career Development Center, frequently goes to Utopia. He thinks Utopia’s team is a bold and energetic young startup team. Many students always think of starting a business, but only Utopia has been run successfully. Chen Zhiye said encouragingly, “WKU is much supportive of young people starting their own business, so WKU not only provides finance for good ideas, but also offers help in business model and management practice.”


Everyone has his own “Utopia”

Challenges of starting a business and alteration of team members
Cannot stop the opening and growth of Utopia
This is the very power of WKU students, an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit
So,
Utopia is more than just a small western restaurant
It is a small base unique to WKUers.
Where is your “Utopia”?
Just let your imagination fly and take a risk,
It is waiting for you to discover and make it come true…

文:桂逸雯 姜舒麦
翻译:周珊珊 徐凯 Charles Nelson
视频:葛禹诺 吕家豪
图片:葛禹诺