Malaysian Entrepreneur: I'm Here to Learn From the Best
2024-05-08 16:36:26
Jonathan Lee Hun Leong’s entrepreneurial journey began at a young age when he founded his first company, an education institute, in his home country Malaysia at the age of 18. Eleven years later, in 2019, he arrived in Shenzhen with a bigger ambition: to rekindle his dream of entrepreneurship by learning from the best in the city that has birthed numerous success stories.
The 34-year-old’s career path before arriving in Shenzhen was marked by a series of entrepreneurial ventures across Asia. In 2012, he ventured into the trading business in South Asia, followed by South Korea (2014-2015) and Malaysia (2016-2018). According to Lee, his involvement as a partner led to significant growth in each company, with one Malaysian company expanding from a mere three-to-four person team to 150 employees during his time.
Lee’s decision to choose Shenzhen as his next entrepreneurial chapter stemmed from the city’s reputation as a manufacturing and innovation hub, as his best friend Victor from Sweden once told him, “If you want to become great entrepreneurs, you need to learn from the best. And China is the best.” From his own point of view, Shenzhen is the place where one could find manufacturers, supply chain, and connections.

Jonathan Lee Hun Leong (L) and his best friend Victor at Lee's Shenzhen office at YiHaoJi Technology in Nanshan District in 2023.
In 2019, Lee moved to Shenzhen with dreams of becoming an entrepreneur here. However, his initial plans to found his own company upon arriving in Shenzhen were met with the unexpected challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This forced him to adapt and explore alternative avenues for learning and professional growth. He joined Shenzhen YiHaoJi Technology Co. Ltd. as its global distributor, gaining valuable experience in the world of electronic atomizers, 3C products (computer, communication and consumer electronic products), and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods).
As a co-partner and global distributor at YiHaoJi, Lee has built and is managing the company’s 10 overseas subsidiaries in countries such as Indonesia, South Korea, Ukraine, the U.K., Canada and Peru, bringing Chinese brands such as Relx, SKG and Wanglaoji to worldwide platforms. In December 2023, the company became the exclusive distributor of the famous Chinese herbal tea brand Wanglaoji in Peru, according to Lee.

Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS) students attend classes in Peking University's campus in Beijing in 2023.
The Malaysian believes that the two ways to learn from the best are working at the best companies and through the best education resources. Therefore, in 2022 Lee enrolled in the Master in China Studies for Economics and Management Program (MCS) at the Peking University HSBC Business School (PHBS). “Peking University is China's first national comprehensive university, so I think I need to learn from the best and from the one with the longest history,” he told Shenzhen Daily; “The MCS program is designed for anyone, especially foreigners who want to become entrepreneurs in China.”

PHBS students visit Peking University's campus in Beijing in 2023.
He recognizes the importance of Confucius’ teachings and the nuances of Chinese consumer behavior. “I didn’t live in China before, I had no idea about China, so I needed to learn the culture, the Confucius thinking because people's way of thinking in doing business don’t change. So in order to get into the Chinese market, I needed to learn how people really think and behave, and how the whole society and the economics work in China,” he stated.
Lee's studies at PHBS haven't just been theoretical. He has actively applied his learnings to real-world scenarios, achieving impressive results. One such example is his successful placement of a famous consumer electronic product in convenience stores like Circle K in Indonesia. By applying the concept of the "context effect" learned in a marketing course, Lee convinced the stores to group the product with similar products.
Through his experiences in Shenzhen, Lee has developed a deep appreciation for the city’s entrepreneurial spirit characterized by efficiency and bravery in decision making. “Companies in Shenzhen and in other parts of the world are equally efficient,” he observes, “but Shenzhen’s growth is faster because its companies are more willing to take risks.”
Stepping into the New Year, Lee is brimming with exciting goals. He aims to bring renowned Swedish singers Rasmus Gozzi and Fröken Snusk to Shenzhen to facilitate cultural exchanges between Sweden and China. Additionally, he envisions introducing unique Chinese products to the global market.

Lee appreciates Malaysia’s decision to offer a 30-day visa-free travel policy for Chinese citizens from Dec. 1, 2023, to Nov. 30, 2024. He believes that this move will foster economic growth in both nations, open up new opportunities, and pave the way for successful Chinese brands to make a mark in the overseas market.
By Yang Mei
Source: Shenzhen Daily