Richard Li – Successful International Students and What Drives Them Forward

With the Future Founders Festival coming in July, we’re bringing our favorite Q&A with the event’s speakers.

First up is Richard Li, Co-founder of July: Melbourne-based travel brand and Brosa: Australian online furniture retailer that’s worth over $50 million.

This amazing business man will be one of the principal speakers at the festival, so be sure to sign up for the event to hear more about him.

Q1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an E-commerce entrepreneur with a Chinese background. Like many other international students, I came to Australia at the age of 16 with very limited English skills. Fast forward to today, I’ve cofounded two successful E-commerce brands in two completely different verticals: Brosa in furniture, and July in luggage. 

Q2: Tell us what’s the most enjoyable part of what you do!

The most enjoyable and proud part of what we do is when we receive positive reviews from our customers telling us how much they love the July brand and how much they enjoy the products. 

Q3: Do you think International Students have tougher barriers to break in Australia? 

I think it’s difficult for anyone to start a business, regardless whether you are an international student or not. There have been many unique challenges on my entrepreneurial journey as an international student for sure, for instance English skill was just one of many challenges for me when I first started out, but very quickly I realised the flip side is that I’m a bilingual speaker. I might not be perfect with my English but I can speak two languages, which is an unfair advance in today’s business world.

Q4: Google dictionary states that an entrepreneur is: “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” Do you agree? 

Totally. I just have to say, starting a business is not for everyone. Each person has a different financial situation and different level of tolerance to risks. But as we all learnt the Risk-Return Tradeoff from our economics class. The potential return rises with an increase in risk!

Q5: What’s your personal challenge when you first start your venture? 

The biggest challenge when I started my first business was that I didn’t know where to start, or if I was on the right track. I definitely did a lot of googling trying to figure out how things work, and learn from other entrepreneurs that have done it already. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know.

I wish I had a few mentors that could help guide me a bit those early days of my journey, but I can’t say it wasn’t fun & exciting trying to explore myself/ourselves as well.  

Q6: How do you keep driving yourself towards your career goals when an unexpected life event happens?

I just stay positive and always look at the bright side. 

Q7: What do you think of the proverbial “half empty-half full?” 

I don’t have much thoughts on this, but I definitely think a more optimistic founder has a higher chance to succeed. Why would a pessimistic person run the risk to start a business in the first place?

Q8: What three pieces of advice can you give for starting entrepreneurs 

  • Idea is cheap, it’s all about execution
  • Launch fast, learn fast
  • Find a cofounder

Q9: What are you looking forward to at the Future Founders Festival? And what Ideas do you hope to come from the participants? 

I’m looking forward to sharing my entrepreneurial journey as an international student, and hopefully this will help anyone out there who’s about to start a business, or struggle with their startup, or even encourage people who never thought of starting their own venture.

Ideas are cheap, I’m not interested in ideas. I’m interested to hear how people are executing on their ideas and what traction they’ve achieved.


Are you inspired yet? Don’t miss out the Future Founder Festival happening online from 15 to 16th of July now.



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