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Getting a head start in the world of business

A chance conversation with friends on a bus ride home from school has led to Year 11 Haileybury student, William Shen, launching a thriving business.

NEWS 21 June 2023

William and schoolfriends, Kevin Dai and Arvin Jiao, are co-founders of Go Badminton, a badminton coaching startup that they run outside of school.

The boys ran their first coaching session in July 2021 and while COVID-19 temporarily put the brakes on their business, it has since attracted a steady stream of new clients keen to brush up on their racquet skills.

“Kevin, Arvin and I were taking a bus home from school and talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up. Since we all played badminton, I suggested we start a coaching business. Kevin and Arvin are state level badminton players and had coached at other clubs so they already had coaching experience,” says William.

"School is important for learning many major life skills but you can only gain some experiences by venturing into the real world. Personally, one of the biggest reasons why I started the business was to force myself into trying new things and gaining experience outside of the school environment."

It took a couple of weeks to plan how Go Badminton would operate and the boys then ran their first coaching session. They teach students from ages six to 18 in small groups and run sessions twice a week. The business now has 49 students and nine coaches on their books and numbers are climbing.

“I vividly remember Kevin, Arvin and myself in a desperate huddle before our first session – sorting out a rough plan of what we would. We’ve gradually built our coaching system, learned from any mistakes and we’ve gone deeper into planning for each class,” says William.

“There is still plenty of room for the business to grow and my plan is to continue building Go Badminton until I graduate. I might then take a gap year to grow the business to the point where it allows me to put all my efforts into it full-time, or I’ll then start another venture."

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is that there are opportunities out there that you don’t even know exist. However, they will never present themselves to you if you don’t first take the small actions or steps every day that might seem meaningless at the time but are the start of your journey.”
William Shen (Year 11)

Entrepreneurship and Enterprise is a key pillar of a Haileybury education and Damien Meunier, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says the efforts of William, Kevin and Arvin showcase entrepreneurship in action.

“I know how busy the lives of Haileybury students are so for William and his friends to prioritise time to dedicate to developing and launching their idea is fantastic. We know that 70 per cent of all business startups fail and their business has been going for a few years now due to their commitment,” says Damien.

“The many experiences and skills that William, Kevin and Arvin have developed through starting this business and running it will be invaluable for them in the future.

“Problem-solving, building customer relationships, learning the basics of doing business, organisation and teamwork are skills that can be applied to whatever future pathways the boys choose to take. These are skills that can sometimes take a lifetime to master – what an amazing head start they’ve made!”
Damien Meunier, Head of Innovation