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Top 24 Under 24: Michael Cheng — The Web Entrepreneur

By David P. Ball, 24 hours Vancouver

Michael Cheng is in our Top 24 Under 24 (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

Michael Cheng is in our Top 24 Under 24 (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

Over the past decade, Internet entrepreneur Michael Cheng has launched nearly a dozen online companies.

In showing great promise from such a young age, the 24-year-old has been acclaimed as one of Canada's “Next 36” entrepreneurs.

For the Hong Kong immigrant, his passion began as a young teen when his family couldn't make ends meet on minimum wage.

“In a moment of desperation I thought, ‘What else can I do to turn the situation around?’” Cheng said. “That's what drove and motivated me. I saw that, as an entrepreneur, I could have an impact.”

His first venture helped people who were uncertain about navigating classified ads sell their vehicles online. Today Cheng heads Needle, which facilitates business between managers and freelancers.

“I want to change the future of work,” he proclaims. “In the next couple years, freelancing and remote work will take the economy by storm.

“Everything is online, but how we manage relationships between remote employers and employees is very important ... How do you trust someone without face-to-face interaction?”

His start-ups have put Cheng among “Canada's future leaders” as chosen by Maclean's magazine, but it wasn't all success along the way.

“Entrepreneurship is one of those things you can't be taught and can't read about,” he said. “You really learn from failing.

“It requires a tremendous amount of failure. An 'overnight success' actually often takes 10 years ... Failure is a stepping stone to success.”





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