ARTHUR CAI : an entrepreneurial success

Arthur Cai, 37 years old, is an outdoor lover, art collector and entrepreneur. Graduated from law school, the first company he founded was an advertising agency. With a love for sports and outdoor life, he switched to the sports industry in 2018 and founded Arthur Sports Co., Ltd. Soon, Arthur Sports became one of the fastest-growing sports companies in China. It serves sports and tourism administrations and authorities in various cities in China as a strategist and promoter. It became the official partner of the Belt and Road International Regatta in 2022. BRR was established in 2019 and named after the Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese Government. Now, it is one of the biggest sailing events in China and starting to have its name known in Southeast Asia. From a participant in the regatta and co-organiser, Arthur dedicates his passion for sailing and his expertise in advertising to BRR and brings it overseas.

What inspired you to develop Arthur Sports?

I grew up as a sports enthusiast. I have tried various types of sports, and some of them became my lifetime hobbies, such as mountain climbing, diving, boxing and alpine skiing. All of these hobbies drag me out of the office and my business. And one day, I asked myself, why not make THESE my business, and set my office outdoors?  I love sports, and why not start a business in the sports industry?

How have your priorities changed from when you first started in 2018?

When I first started the sports business, I was still a fan, I always prioritised what I enjoyed the most, what made me look cool, and barely considered from the business perspective. This was a typical fan or playing mentality. But with the business going on, it became clearer and clearer to me that sports, as an industry, has more functions than just making people look cool. It develops a healthy and fashionable lifestyle for people individually. It builds connections between people and different cultures.  So in the recent couple of years, I have been choosing projects and investing very carefully. Firstly, I need to make ends meet. That is how the business sustains. Secondly, I must make the most of the sports functions and benefit the community. At the same time, I try to keep my passion and love for sports as I’ve always had.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?

I should have started sooner!

As I said, in the beginning, I was a little too self-focused. But I don’t think it was a bad mentality, because it helped form my business philosophy today. So if I could do something differently, it would be the timing I started the sports business. The sooner I get started, the more time I have to learn. But I’m still happy with where I am now.

How did you decide where to establish your company?

The first office of my company was in Australia. I used to travel to Australia a lot, and in my understanding, Australia is a country into sports, and about sports. I registered a company in Australia planning to bring some of the most exciting events from Australia to China. Then in 2019, my mind was changed by the Belt and Road International Regatta. There is another way of doing international sports which is bringing a Chinese brand overseas. When I thought it through, I registered Guangxi Arthur Sports in Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which is a window region facing ASEAN countries, also the home of Belt and Road Regatta.

What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?

It is quite different participating in a sport and organising sports. The difference, or say, the knowledge gap between these two posed the biggest challenge to my sports career.  I was lucky that I had a group of passionate and fast-learning people around me. Some of them were from my advertising agency, loyal and adaptive; some were experienced sports business people, very professional. The team helped me survive the early-stage confusion and took the business on track. My love for sports and the sportsmanship in me also strengthened my determination.

What is unique about your business?

We are, if not the only, one of the very few sports companies in China who organise events overseas. Some big companies bought established international brands and continued the business globally. This is not the case for organising events overseas. The event brands we are promoting are Chinese, we are telling the Chinese story to the world. The major two projects we are working on, Belt and Road International Regatta and China-ASEAN International Touring Assembly are both China-originated brands which have reached out to other countries. For a very long time, China has proved itself as a sporting nation several times at the Olympics. We have world-class athletes and sports stars. But no event brand from China has been heard globally. This is my ambition and also the vision of Arthur Sports.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to become an entrepreneur?

Don’t give up. It sounds like a cliché, but when you are there, struggling with the pressure, frustration and loneliness, it is easy to forget your original aspiration and quit. But I’m not suggesting forcing yourself ahead recklessly. You need to be prepared intellectually, mentally, and if possible, financially. On the other hand, you should always be aware that you are never done equipping yourself. Learn from the frustration and the failure, enjoy the pressure and loneliness and keep reminding yourself of your aspirations. Most importantly, don’t give up.

What strategies did you first use to market your business?

I’m not sure if it can be called a strategy, but I used to tell my story in sports before I introduced my business. I shared my experience of participating in a certain sport, what I achieved, how I felt, and how I saw the world from a different perspective, for example, the cloud and earth I saw from the top of a 7500m-high mountain, the dark and lonely night I endured during an offshore sailing cruise. When they dived into my story and started to feel the joy I felt, then I let them know that my job was to provide the same experience to every single one of them.

It worked. And it still works.

How do you define success and how long did it take you to find it?

To be honest, I don’t know, I don’t think I have ever tasted true success. When I made a fortune from the advertising business, people said I was successful. I didn’t agree. That was money, not success. Only I knew what I suffered for it. So, is success making money out of being yourself and doing what you like to do? Maybe. I will soon find out.

What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?

Building the team. My team is my biggest fortune so far. And I’m so blessed to have them. Sometimes when I look back to the beginning of the company, I can’t help but be proud of myself, ‘there must be something in me that I can gather these wonderful people around me!’ Some of them have been working with me since the advertising company, and some were newly recruited when I started Arthur Sports. They have different backgrounds, and different personalities, some even don’t like sports. But when they get together, it’s like a puzzle completed, what you have is a perfect picture. And the dynamic they created in the team empowered me. Working with such a team, you will never doubt yourself or the future of the business.

What are you working on now? The future?

We are preparing for the Belt and Road International Regatta 2024 and China-ASEAN International Touring Assemble. For Belt and Road Regatta, we will continue our partnership with the Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. The partnership is beyond just a race day in our name but other various exchanges and communications between the two regattas. In addition, we are trying to attract more Asian countries to come on board to co-organise the Belt and Road Regatta. The China-ASEAN International Touring Assembly has a 14-year history already. It travels by car, from Nanning, Guangxi, all the way to Singapore, passing through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia, It will be the 15th edition of the Touring Assembly, and the first time after COVID.

Besides these two major ones, we also have smaller brands, more entertaining, including Freestyle Motocross shows, the World Supercross Championship and an action sports tournament. Domestically, we will have SCL China (Sailing Championship League), national or regional youth sailing events and some city marathons.

Arthur Sports is not only focusing on operating events, we are also planning sports theme parks, training campuses, sports themes tourism, and sports documentaries which are inspired by my advertising gene. We label ourselves as a sports promoter because we are using sports to build communication channels between different cultures, different age groups and different backgrounds.  When it comes to sports, there are no language barriers, no ideology difference, just a bunch of people gathering from different parts of the world and sharing their stories and having fun. We appreciate the atmosphere of sports, and we want to create more fun for more people and lead the sports industry in China.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Everyone around me is happy, it is perfect happiness.

What is the trait you most admire in others?

To answer this question, you need to give me more pages. There are so many. I see a lot of good things in people around me and I want to have them all. You can say that I’m greedy, you can also say I’m a perfectionist. I want desperately to absorb as many good qualities as possible.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Art Collection. Expensive and addicted.

What is your favourite journey?

North Pole. It was the first time I saw how small humans are and how lonely people can be.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

No, every virtue deserves praise.

Which living person do you most admire?

My father. He is hard-working, perseverant and passionate about what he does. He is my role model.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Don’t give up”. I used it earlier in this questionnaire, and I used it a lot when talking to my friends, co-workers and younger people around me. Even though I mean it whenever I say it, it still seems easier to say than to be done. I will try to reduce the usage of it in the future.

When and where were you happiest?

With my family at home, where I can go back to age 5.

What do you consider your greatest achievement/s?

Climbing Muztagata Mountain, 7546m. At the top of the mountain, I saw a lot of things, visible and invisible, external and internal. I saw the earth, I saw the time. I saw the world, I saw myself.

What and when is your next professional event?


Favourite movie?

The Godfather

How would you like to be remembered?

The founder of Arthur Sports

What is your motto?

勇者无惧 (means the warrior never fears) I don’t know any perfect English translation of this phrase. Let’s go with the Chinese, it is engraved in my heart.

Captain Arthur Cai is interviewed at the Belt & Road Royal Langkawi International Regatta 2024. Accreditation to Digital Visual Advertising (DVA)

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