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Mark Hsu, Envision Recruit, Taiwan

Taiwan’s Envision Recruit runs a collection of companies offering marketing, test preparation, education placement and other services in Taiwan, China and Thailand. We caught up with founder Mark Hsu for the lowdown on Taiwan’s shifting market.

The PIE: Where did the idea for Envision Recruit come from?

"I’d say about 40-50% probably use an agent but that’s a big decline from previous years"

Envision Recruit grew as an extension of my experience as an agency. What I found was that I had attended a lot of these international networking events, but the problem was that the schools were still having a hard time overcoming the last mile in converting leads into enrolments. That was my reason for starting it.

The PIE: Why do you think schools find it so difficult to go the last mile?

In Taiwan, and in most of Asia, the agency industry is highly fragmented and so when you go to international events like agent workshops you’re seeing maybe 1% of the agencies out there. So an agency has to have the resources to fly out to events – even though we are getting comped for our hotel rooms and attendance – but you still need to have the means to buy the airfare.

“On a per capita basis Taiwan is probably the world’s second biggest source market”

So Envision Recruit put a handbook together showing that there are 350 active agencies in Taiwan and that at any of these agent workshops maybe two or three would show up. So there’s no way a school is actually capturing the whole market. Number two, I would say less than 3% of agents have English language websites. So if you’re a non Chinese speaker just Googling in English you’re not going to find the agency names.

The PIE: So schools are missing opportunities in the Taiwan market?

Yes. I saw that schools were spending a lot of money on attending events, workshops, conferences and thinking that “I have got Taiwan covered”; or think that Taiwan is maybe a dead or dormant market. But if you look at the statistics, Taiwan is still the fifth most important source country for the US. Pound for pound, on a per capita basis it’s probably the world’s second biggest source market behind South Korea because our population is only twenty-three million.

“When you go to international events like agent workshops you’re seeing maybe 1% of the agencies out there”

The PIE: Do you help broker relationships of meeting with agents for your clients?

We have two solutions. One is a la carte, so if you just want to test things out we have this handbook available for sale; and we run an in-country agent workshop at which we can represent overseas schools on their behalf so they don’t need to fly out. What we’re doing right now is a monthly agent workshop.

It’s a relatively inexpensive multi-school info-session. It’s more lecture style than speed dating. We don’t need to comp the agents so schools save on that; if it’s a half day session we just offer tea and coffee. If it’s a full day session we throw in lunch.

The PIE: Can you tell me more about what Envision Recruit offers?

Before we started running events for language schools, previously we were running information sessions for top business schools such as the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. So we would coordinate the logistics of setting up an information session at a five star hotel. And then we charge the schools an execution fee to attract guests for the information sessions. We’ve been doing this for three years.

The PIE: Are you helping agents meet these schools?

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