Alumni Kaleidoscope: Lancelot Shir - Bsc(MATH)-GM

Mathematics tutoring and beekeeping; many Hong Kongers have done the former, the latter, not so much. Even rarer would be an entrepreneur who has done both, but this is precisely what Lancelot Shir has achieved. A 2011 BSc (Mathematics) graduate of HKUST, Lancelot has parlayed both his mastery of numbers and broad exposure to the liberal arts to start two successful businesses in Hong Kong.

Fittingly, Lancelot's first business was named Knight Mathematics. He funded the business with the two years of salary he earned from his first job and rented a space in Jordan, where it remains today. Lancelot's parents were initially skeptical—they wanted their son to work in government or academia instead. Within a year, the Shirs were converts as Knight continued to attract growing number of students who were drawn to the results Lancelot was producing as a maths tutor. 

Today, Knight Mathematics employs four tutors—Lancelot still heads the operation—and in 2019, a whopping 94 percent of Knights' students received a Grade 4 or better on their DSE Mathematics examinations, with almost 60 percent scoring 5s or higher. What's Lancelot's secret to his tutoring center's success? "Every student is unique, and hence a different approach is required," he explains. Lancelot's maximum class size is five pupils, which helps him remember their names and observe and identify the right strategy to get the most out of students.

Considering the prestige of school tutors in Hong Kong, many would have been satisfied with what Lancelot had already attained, but the HKUST alum already had other dreams in mind. A year ago, he turned his attention to beekeeping and selling honey. Lancelot founded Hong Kong Raw Honey with zero experience in either producing honey or retail, but that didn't faze him.

Possessing a keen observational and analytical eye (that was further honed while running Knight Mathematics), Lancelot quickly understood how different types of bees behaved and crucially, this enabled him to track their food sources and also allowed him to bond with these ecologically important insects.

His raw honey was awarded "Best Made in Hong Kong Product" at the Natural & Organic Awards Asia a few years back; Lancelot's company sells a range of mono-floral honey that expresses unique colors, tastes and textures. One of his best sellers is ivy honey, made from the ivy tree that is native to Hong Kong. Darker in color, it is a potent anti-viral honey that can also be used for topical purposes (such as skin rashes and allergies).

Lancelot is quick to credit his fellow HKUST alums for mentoring him: "They were particularly helpful with advising me on how I should market my honey in the competitive Hong Kong market." With his enthusiasm and daring, don't be surprised if the maths wizard starts another flourishing business within the next few years.



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