The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Senior builds $100,000 NT non-profit


William Wu (’18) has quietly built a small charitable business that has, to date, earned a profit of over $100,000 NT; all proceeds from the company’s sales benefit the Taiwanese Guide Dog Association, which works to help the vision-impaired.
He first came up with the idea to create Florentino Design Studio over a year and a half ago. “I used to volunteer at the Taipei Municipal School for the Blind,” he says. “I realized, as I grew up and grew older, I had become increasingly self-reliant. These kids don’t get that. Their problems with vision will persist into adulthood. Plus, my own mother had vision loss, so it was something I felt passionate about on a personal level.”
Though he volunteered at the School for The Blind For two years, he realized he could do more. Guide dogs came to mind. “These kids need to be able to get around. Something as simple as getting food could be quite difficult for them. It might even affect their ability to not only thrive, but to survive.”
William’s personal experiences and revelations formed the basis for Florentino Design Studio. He wanted to create a product that had low production costs but high value. He worked with a local Taiwanese designer to create the Sleepy Cat and Jolly Pup Planters, decorative containers in which plants are grown. These cute and functional products cost $500 NT, and all profits go to the aforementioned Taiwanese Guide Dog Association.
21st century technology made it possible for him to start his business with minimal capital. “All of this would not be possible without 3D printing. Creating an iron mold for the planters would cost $100,000 NTcreating a silicone mold for the planters was significantly cheaper.”
As a social entrepreneur, William made full use of the resources available here to him here at TAS: “We have a piece of software we use in ceramics class, called Rhino, that I used to create a computer model of the planters.” William also asked Mr. Anthony Ives and Mrs. Michelle Bruce, his psychology and honors marketing teachers, respectively, for help. “Mr. Ives used his experience with psychology to help me with marketing, and Mrs. Bruce really helped elevate my business with the creation of a 21-page business plan.” 
Thanks to the combined efforts of these two teachers, a 10-person team of TAS students, and William himself, Florentino Design Studio has now branched out from selling planters just at the Tiger Shop in addition to local sales at ACI Institute, a popular tutoring company used by TAS students, and a variety of local cafes, William believes there may be 

some foreign interest in his products. “I am currently working creating a PayPal account and integrating it into my website. If there is actual demand, I would like to bring the business model with me to the United States when I go to college and find local artists to collaborate with there.”
At the end of the day, it is all about making an impact for William. There are an estimated 253 million vision-impaired people in the world and just as his own mother made a recovery from vision impairment, there is hope for them, too.

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