Marketing and Economics (Business Track)
Student. Entrepreneur. Publisher. Radio producer. Campaign organizer. Of all the titles that could sum up RuiHao’s Iowa experience, perhaps the best is “adventurer.” From the early, and admittedly lonely, days of founding AiCheng, a media platform for Chinese students in America, RuiHao has found that risk-taking, matched with guidance and support, can reap a multitude of rewards.
Originally from Chengdu in southwest China, RuiHao chose the University of Iowa for its premier business and creative writing programs and its open and diverse environment. In his time here, he has come to appreciate it most for its cultural diversity and the resources “that pretty much allow you to learn and do anything you want.” His “anything” has included campaign organizing for the 2012 Obama Campaign, leadership in the American Marketing Association’s student chapter on campus, leadership in the Japanese Karate-Do organization, and playing violin with the All-University String Orchestra.
In Fall 2013, following a year of slow starts and frustrations, RuiHao enlisted the support of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) to grow AiCheng, which began as a magazine for Chinese students at Iowa. (AiCheng translates to “share the life you love.”) JPEC guided him in creating an entrepreneurial culture, employing entrepreneurial methods, and provided him with start-up space at the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Lab on campus. The AiCheng team quickly grew from six to 32, launched their third issue, established an online radio station, and began delivering multicultural consulting services to the local community.
When asked about the secret of its sudden success, RuiHao has a quick answer: “Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration! I asked for help and learned from others. I also participated in entrepreneurial trainings, summits, competitions, and conferences at JPEC, and I found my passion. I love creativity, adventure, exploration, and being valuable.”
RuiHao sees the enterprise as “a great flag of diversity and creativity on campus that will continue to create significant value for the local community.” When asked about its future, RuiHao takes a long-term view: “I believe it will be very meaningful to pass AiCheng to younger generations years and years at the University of Iowa, as the name AiCheng implies.”
For RuiHao, the adventure is just beginning. He continues to work with JPEC and a team of entrepreneurs on his next project, a micro publishing platform called thecollegio.com, which allows young journalists to self-publish and sell their works online. He sees no reason why students can’t pursue their dreams right away. He asks, “If the goal for a business student is to be a CEO, CMO, or CFO one day, then why wait for years? I want to be a CEO one day. Why not just do it now?” Through his collaboration with JPEC, that is exactly what he is doing.