Meet William Shum, the persona spearheading the first tourbillon brand of Hong Kong – Memorigin
Revolutionary leaders get to lay the foundation of innovative business culture and initiate amazing strategies. Counted among these business tycoons is William Shum, CEO, Memorigin Watch Company.
In 2011, Memorigin embarked on its incorporation under William’s dynamic leadership and today, after nine years of its journey, it has become a prominent name with a market presence in more than 20 countries including Taiwan, Japan, the USA, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Australia, etc.
In his role as founder and CEO, William Shum brings his expertise to one of the renowned companies, driven by strong domain competence and extensive industry knowledge. The visionary has led the venture to attain a number of awards and recognitions from the society such as the 2011 Hong Kong Emerging Brand by CMAHK & HKBDC and the champion of the 2012 HSBC Youth Business Award. In particular, he was nominated and got the Young Industrialist Awards of Hong Kong in 2015 and Chinese Outstanding Youth in 2016. His brand Memorigin won the Hong Kong Top Brand 2019. In 2019, He was nominated by Inside Retail Magazine as one of the top 50 Retail Innovative Leaders in Hong Kong. Due to his contribution in promoting Eastern Cultural Art, he was awarded “Datuk, Dato“in 2020 by Maharaja, King of Kerajaan Kutai Mulawarman in Indonesia, and Justice of Peace (JP) by Malaysia Datuk.
In academics, Mr Shum graduated from Cornell University attaining his Master’s degree, majoring in applied economics and management. He completed the Financial Risk Management (FRM) exams after coming back to Hong Kong and worked in investment banking for a year. He then started his entrepreneurship by utilizing his in-house watch factory to create the first Hong Kong tourbillon brand – Memorigin.
Memorigin, the specialist of tourbillon watches
Being the first Hong Kong brand that specializes in tourbillon watches, Memorigin integrates marvellous oriental arts and top western watchmaking skills to produce tourbillon watches with prominent cultural features. Over the past few years, they have collaborated with various international brands. their watches are also well received and collaboratively marketed by top Asian celebrities.
“Memorigin”, a combination of “memorial” and “original”, represents the fountain of hope for humankind. When creating every exquisite tourbillon watch, Memorigin is devoted to creativity, determination, and hope. It is hoped that each watch can ignite inspiration and courage to seize opportunities, conquer challenges and realize dreams, creating infinite miracles ahead.
“We offer a unique movement engraving service as we believe that engraving a customized inscription on the movement instils soul into the watch. It will add value to the many meaningful moments in your life”, said William Shum.
Memorigin’s clientele includes traders and end-consumers. As the company often collaborates with different celebrities, IPs, and representatives from different industries, they are renowned for forward-thinking creative designs and artisanal craftsmanship. Much imagination has been turned into reality. They offer a wide variety of watch designs, from timeless and classic to artistic, glamorous, and more to take care of their customers’ needs at all times.
What influenced William’s decision to be an entrepreneur?
William was nurtured by his grandfather, who was well-versed in literary classics and history, with a profound wealth of knowledge of Chinese culture. He was also deeply influenced by his woodcraft-collector father, Shum Mak-ling, who had a breadth of knowledge in woodworking craftsmanship. The vast amount of literary talent and artistic craftsmanship has trickled down through generations in the family and bred William’s interest in the long-standing and rich history of Chinese culture.
William studied the relationship between the educational level of factory’s employees and their productivity when he was writing for his master’s thesis. He found that the watch factory which his father had invested in produced tourbillon movements for Swiss brands. Tourbillon is one of the world’s top three most sophisticated mechanical watches.
William completed his master’s degree in the U.S. in 2008, the year that Lehman Brothers collapsed. Many of his fellows couldn’t get a job in the finance field and chose to pursue further studies. Fortunately, he returned to Hong Kong and got to work at an investment bank. Yet, he often pondered upon ways to start his own business as he came up with an idea that he could utilize his father’s factory to create a Hong Kong watch brand with local design and in-house movements. He believed that merging the Chinese wood carving art with top Western watchmaking techniques could present the essence of “East meets West” and also preserve and pass on this unique cultural asset to future generations.
Despite his parent’s worries, he decided to give it a try. He quit his job and resolutely created Hong Kong’s first tourbillon watch brand at the young age of 25.
Significant hurdles on the way
It has been hard to revitalize and modernize the aging local watch industry. Therefore, William and his team have to transform from a traditional watch brand and enhance their competitiveness by creating breakthroughs with innovations.
The disruption of the Covid-19 epidemic has brought them a lot of challenges. It kept the big-spending tourists away and local consumers tightened their purse strings. The market expansion could also be difficult because of the restricted border control and quarantine measures implemented by different authorities.
The driving force behind this innovative journey
It is the passion and perseverance that have helped William achieve what he has today. He hasn’t forgotten the intent of starting this business. Strong faith has led him to overcome a lot of obstacles along the way.
He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to his team and partners. They have made a great effort in growing and keeping the business healthy. He wouldn’t miss his family whenever he gets the chance to show his appreciation. They have been giving him encouragement, emotional assistance, and unwavering trust.
A day in William’s life
William usually has a healthy breakfast with his wife and daughter. Then, he goes back to the office and talks to the team to see how they are doing. He often arranges one client meeting in the morning and another one at lunchtime. In the afternoon, he sometimes participates in various community services or charitable activities. Otherwise, it can be packed with meetings. When he finally has his own time at night, he will read, exercise, and spend some quality time with his family.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman & Business Dynamics by John Sterman
Memorigin’s future roadmap
Memorigin will continue to pursue quality excellence and customer satisfaction with an insistence on cultural heritage and dedication to product and technology development. They hope to achieve more breakthroughs and create more milestones in the future. 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Memorigin.
Another highlight will be the partnership with the NBA rising star LaMelo Ball. Through this opportunity, the team hopes to spread the unique blend of oriental and western cultures to the rest of the world.
A piece of advice for female entrepreneurs
Female characters usually incorporate toughness and gentleness. While males tend to be more dominant, stoic, and straightforward, they can be laughed at and seen as weakened if they show some traditional traits of femininity. Female entrepreneurs should utilize this strength in the business world.
As you sow, so shall you reap.
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