South Island School student taps into that business-minded spirit

South Island School student taps into that business-minded spirit

Discover how entrepreneur Dominic Clark balances book-keeping with textbooks

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Dominic Clark isn't about to let his business venture get in the way of his school work.
Dominic Clark isn't about to let his business venture get in the way of his school work.
Photo: Edmond So/SCMP

For a lot of people, attending university is about getting a degree that will lead to a well-paid job and comfortable life. But there are a growing number of students in Hong Kong who are investing their time and money into something more - their own businesses. Dominic Clark, a Year 12 student at South Island School, is one of those entrepreneurs.

Noticing that Hongkongers' exercise habits can be quite irregular due to their busy lifestyles, Dominic spotted an opportunity - a freelance personal training service.

TAP Fitness Hong Kong provides a mobile personal trainer and meal plans, but without any contracts. They do not operate as a gym, so training can be done anywhere the client wants - flexibility is key.

Dominic founded TAP earlier this year along with fellow South Island students Valerie Chan, Nicola Avitabile and Joseph Luk, and they think their product fills a gap in the market.

"TAP seeks to provide a new type of personal training by fulfilling all of the client's needs, whatever their situation. We tailor to their needs," says Dominic.

The idea first struck Dominic last summer and it took him and the team six months to come up with a plan.

After struggling with legal issues (all four of them are under 18 so can't legally be directors of the company; Dominic's parents eventually had to step in), they finally registered the company in April.

Even then it took the team another two months to organise the "marketing set-up, putting together an organisation, getting trainers, developing systems … all that", says Dominic.

The 16-year-old is interested in both business and fitness.

"I don't necessarily want a job in fitness, but I want to turn my hobby [into something that] has purpose," he says.

But being an entrepreneur isn't easy. Running a successful business takes a lot of work. Throw in homework and studying for exams, and it is a huge commitment.

"It's both exciting and difficult," says Dominic.

Balancing a business and school makes time management essential.

"It's not as difficult as you think. I finish most of my schoolwork at school, leaving me with a lot of time outside of school. I use every opportunity I can, when I'm not doing schoolwork, to try and make progress with the business," says Dominic.

The four students are working as a team to develop TAP and turn it into a profitable business. Each person's contribution is based on their individual skills. For example, Nicola works on strategy and Joseph focuses on media and promotions.

And the team know that school work has a lot to do with their success. Dominic and Nicola are both Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) students. BTEC provides vocational courses at some schools that students can take alongside traditional subjects.

"A lot of the skills and qualities [needed for setting up TAP] were brought in from the BTEC class," says Dominic.

"The focus is on learning practical skills, and we bring these to the business to help us tackle various situations."

Based on their success, setting up a business might not seem that difficult, but Dominic and his team have faced their fair share of challenges.

Money, for starters. Dominic had to borrow almost HK$50,000 from his parents to fund the business.

"In Hong Kong, that's not a lot of money for a business … but it is for students," he says.

Having to become legal directors of the company and loan money to start the business meant Dominic's parents weren't quite on board with the idea initially.

"It took some convincing," says Dominic, who worked hard to gain their trust and reassured them his top priority was still his school work.

Even though TAP Fitness is still in its early stages, with just a handful of regular customers, experience is the most important thing for Dominic and his team.

"The experience is the most valuable asset I can gain from this business. I now know how to run a business - that's something that will be significant for me in the future," says Dominic, whose life goal is "not to work for others".

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
The power's in your hands

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