By: Hailey Temple
Since beginning his studies in Information Management at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), Steven Hu G‘04 has kept his finger on the pulse of a rapidly growing technology sector both in the United States and China. As the CEO of InGameAd Interactive, Hu understands the challenges and rewards of exploring the intersections of entrepreneurship and technology.
On a recent visit to Syracuse, Hu reflected on his experiences at the iSchool and how they paved the way for his international success as a businessman in the fast-paced field of digital gaming.
As a graduate student studying Information Management, Hu focused his studies on the business of digital worlds. Working closely with Associate Professor Ian MacInnes, who provided guidance as Hu explored the business models of online gaming industries in China and published his studies in Telematics and Informatics.
“Steven is an extremely passionate, intelligent and well-spoken person. He is always ready and able to adapt to the developments in the technology world, which has made him so successful in the gaming advertising industry in China,” said MacInnes.
Toward the end of his time at the iSchool, he became passionate about building an online game empowered by advertising, where the game generated revenue from advertising rather than playing for play. Though two venture capitalists supported Hu’s vision, his ideas came too early for the gaming world, which was still in its developing stages in China. “I imagine they felt I had a great idea, but I had just developed the idea before the time was right,” said Hu.
Hu moved to Shanghai after graduation, still passionate about making his idea a reality. Hu was working for Dow Jones in 2005 when he finally quit to pursue his gaming design full-time and to establish InGameAd Interactive .Two years after graduating, he received an email from the two capital investors who he met at the iSchool. They expressed an interest in his company, and later invested in Hu’s startup to help get the company off the ground. Hu also closed an investment in 2008 with WPP, the second largest advertising company in the world.
“We were struggling but had perseverance to stick around while other companies were folding. The competition was fierce and working with a startup was definitely a challenge during the first two years. We were lucky enough to stick around in time for social gaming,” said Hu.
With the booming world of social media gaming, InGameAd Interactive has become a successful company, providing advertising and interaction through the popularity of social gaming in China. Though Hu’s company is still small, with 40 employees based in Taiwan, he sees the potential for InGameAd Interactive to become a global story, especially with the popularity of mobile gaming. Singtel recently invested in his company and Hu hopes to bring two more investors from Japan to support his ideas.
As Hu reflects on his experience as an iSchool student and entrepreneur, he attributes the iSchool mentality and culture to his success. “The iSchool has done a great job shifting with the trends that are happening in technology. The professors here are so good and the education is always adjusting with the times. It’s great that there is so much innovative thinking and I am impressed with the international presence at the iSchool,” said Hu.
For aspiring entrepreneurs at the iSchool, Hu offered a word of advice to students pursuing their goals in the technology realm: “follow your passion, make a buzz on the market, and always be ready to adapt to the changing world. Be brave and follow your passions, you never know where you will be if you abandon your dreams.”