Clowning about on the express delivery circuit
Updated: 2012-06-11 08:02
By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily)
An employee of a clown express delivery service on his way to deliver flowers to a client in Beijing. To cater to customers' various needs, some express delivery companies now even have Santa Claus, Spiderman and other costumes for their workers. To provide an entertaining service, sometimes employees have to play the guitar, sing songs or perform magic tricks. Xu Yin / For China Daily
Chen Junjun sports extraordinary outfits to get his company noticed
Wearing a multicolored Afro wig, exaggerated make-up, oversized glasses and a costume decorated with sparkling stars, Chen Junjun is an unlikely looking courier.
But the 30 year old has been running his clown express delivery in Shanghai for more than three months and become a familiar figure within his district.
"It wasn't my initial intention to run the clown express delivery as an independent business. I only did it to promote my group-buying website. I will deliver anything bought on my group-buying website through Surprise, my express delivery company that I opened in March," said Chen.
Chen registered his own company, Shanghai MengPaiArts Co, running four major businesses under its banner: the group-buying website malajie.com, an online forum based in west Shanghai's Songjiang district, an online shopping mall and the Surprise clown express delivery.
"We are very short of personnel at present. I have only four people working with me in the delivery business. As my company is based in Songjiang, and it's a long way to go to the central part of Shanghai, we are only carrying out the express delivery business within Songjiang," said Chen.
"Surprise express delivery is actually more than a mere express delivery business. It provides all kinds of creative ideas to my customers, such as planning for marriage proposals, similar to wedding planning," he said.
"The so-called creative industry always targets young people and the rich," he added.
To cater to customers' various needs, they also have costumes of Santa Claus and Spiderman. To make the show more lively, Chen will also play guitar, sing songs or perform magic tricks to entertain customers.
While some children may be frightened by the exaggerated look of the clown, older people gave a big welcome to Chen's novel idea.
"It is such a huge surprise to me, be it his service or his costume. I quite like it," said Cui Tongjiao, a college student studying in Songjiang University Town.
A dispatch boy in such a costume might freak the elderly out.
"I cannot accept this kind of delivery. It's too scary," said passerby 56-year-old Wang Meijuan.
Chen forged the idea of starting up a company of his own in 2009 when he left his previous job at a Nanjing-based professional architecture magazine. One friend of mine was thinking of starting his own company at that time and asked me to join him. I worked with him for about a month. The clown express delivery started in March this year.
"The group-buying website is basically the same as other ones, selling dining or recreational coupons. What differentiates mine from others is that my website is based in Songjiang district only at present," Chen said.
"Group-buying websites are suffering these days and are faced with the threat of being swallowed up by giant websites," he said.
"It is really hard for group-buying companies to make money at present. To support the operation of the website, I'm also working on website construction and tutoring companies in online sales to make ends meet," he added.
After majoring in Chinese literature at college, Chen came to Shanghai in 2007 and worked at an information technology company because he is really interested in the industry.
"Now I am looking for an eligible team and adequate financial support," he said.
In terms of financial backing, Chen is seeking investment capital especially catering to startup entrepreneurs. He has submitted some proposals to startup company mentors based in Songjiang and is awaiting a response from them.
"My parents split up when I was only 10 years old. After that I lived with my father and the economic situation at my home was not that good. Teachers and classmates in high school were very caring toward me. The school offered to waive my tuition fees. When I opened my desk I would find some apples or milk to my great surprise. I have received much from society. It is now my job to give something back and pass on the caring, loving heart," said Chen.
"All the orders we take at present are charged at 50 yuan ($7.90) each because we are still in the promotion stage so, basically, we are not making any profits now. Besides, it is very hard for startup entrepreneurs to make profits during the first two or three years. But clown delivery is my interest. I think I can carry on."
(China Daily 06/11/2012 page15)