At the 2019 China Polo Future Trend Conference on August 26, Paris Luo, Founder of 1003 POLO, invited several industry icons, including Zhong Guowei, General Secretary of the Chinese Equestrian Association, Michael Yu, CEO of New Oriental Education & Technology Group, Sun Taoran, Founder of Lakala, Liu Jiping, a founding shareholder of Baidu, and Li Zhongzi, CEO of Lee World Group. Her goal was to facilitate the development of polo sport in China.
During the founding year of 1003 POLO, Paris Luo ran on a full schedule. She was busy pushing ahead with the company business, leading the team from match to match, meeting investors, and attending all kinds of charity events related to polo. When she finally sat down with iAsk after the conference, the first thing she said was, ”I’ve got another event coming up tonight. Let’s wrap up this quickly.”
Life is on the Horseback?
In the past, Paris Luo had carried many labels. but in recent two years, she had freed herself from all of them. As the trail-blazer for China’s new generation of women’s polo, she had founded the world’s first-ever women’s polo school, 1003 Pan-Asia Women’s Polo School(1003 Metropolitan Polo School), and serves as its headmaster. She had also founded the first university polo club in China, and led the Peking University polo team in matches against top-notch global universities like Oxford and Harvard.
In 2018, she was appointed as the China Ambassador for Women’s International Polo Network. Alongside with the princess of Brunei, the wife of the Argentine ambassador, Hollywood film stars and many other enthusiasts of the game to establish a world-leading certification system for women’s polo jointly and to propel its development around the world.
And it was in that year that Paris Luo founded 1003 POLO, which seeks to spread the culture of polo in China. With the main goals to provide an exceptional and exquisite lifestyle for the wider elite community in China.
iAsk: How should we understand 1003 POLO?
Paris Luo: 1003 POLO is currently China’s only comprehensive service platform which has polo at its core. It combines the polo lifestyle, polo elite education, polo competition organization, polo-related intellectual property, and polo charity all in one platform.
iAsk: For the domestic audience, polo is still rather out of reach either as a sport or as an industry. I’m curious as to why you chose this as your career.
Paris Luo: During the Oxford Cup in the UK in 2017, I led the first-ever all-Chinese polo team in history to compete. When I heard the national anthem played on the court, I teared up, and I thought: it’s polo that awoke my courage and my perseverance. I would never have thought that I could be so passionate about anything. And it was also polo that made me aware of who I truly am. The intensity of that moment went beyond anything I’d known about myself before.
But in my home country, where polo originated, people in China today know very little about polo. I reinvented myself through the polo, and I’d like to also contribute as much as I can to polo and polo in China. That moment became my life’s turning point, and also became the motivation for me to found 1003 POLO.
iAsk: What’s the significance of a polo renaissance in China? Is it just about giving people one more sport to play?
Paris Luo: I hope to advocate a value system through the polo. Namely, that life is like being on horseback. You can discover a lot on horseback, including business strategizing, anxiety in the face of uncertainties, and the balance between work and life. Moreover, polo is about communication between the horse and us. Horses sense all our emotions, from happy to sad. When you are feeling confident, the horse will obey your instructions; but when that confidence is absent, the horse may begin to take advantage of you. And those that do well in polo are people with a loving heart who share an emotional bond with their horse.
iAsk: But isn’t it too hard to try to accomplish that mission through entrepreneurship? Do you regret anything?
Paris Luo: No, I have no regrets. Never. Someone else from the media also asked me yesterday the same question: if I’d ever thought about quitting. I said, no matter how hard the journey ahead, I will never give up.
A Polo Miracle?
When founding 1003 POLO, Paris Luo also received encouragement from Michael Yu, CEO of New Oriental Education. Paris Luo said the thing that impressed her the most was when she ”wrote a very long message to Mr. Yu, and the only response he gave was: it’s worth a try.”
Michael Yu showed his support once again at the 2019 China Polo Future Trend Conference. He said that Paris Luo’s passion, positivity, confidence, focus and her love for life constantly inspired him. As an educator, he wished that Chinese teens could take part in the game of polo, which would help them better communicate with the world, and cultivate a stronger character.
真正冲进马球产业，1003 POLO的奔跑速度比罗斌想得快很多。今年6月，1003 POLO宣布获得超千万Pre-A轮投资，投资方为熊猫资本、考拉基金、紫辉创投。拉卡拉董事长、考拉基金创始人孙陶然说，投资1003 POLO，是给每一个梦想一个机会。
1003 POLO has charged ahead in the polo industry with a speed that has far exceeded Paris Luo’s expectation. In June this year, 1003 POLO announced a pre-A round of financing for over 10 million RMB. The investors were Panda Capital, Koala Fund and PurpleSky. CEO of Lakala and founder of Koala Fund, Sun Taoran said that investing in 1003 POLO was about giving each dream a chance.
But his investment was not a shot in the dark. As Sun sees it, polo is definitely a new lifestyle worthy of promotion around the world. At the same time, he also sees the quality and capability of Paris Luo of becoming a successful entrepreneur. ”She’s got big ambitions, a broad heart, a stubborn will, and exceptional learning and strategic abilities. So I’m certain that Paris Luo will come closer and closer to her dream.”
Paris Luo said the funding will go into consolidating high-end polo resources worldwide and enhancing the beginner coaching system in China. As a front-runner and facilitator of polo, the polo industry and the polo culture, 1003 POLO will also stay committed to building a comprehensive service platform for the polo ecosystem, and propelling the development of polo in China.
iAsk: Do you have a clear plan for your next steps? Do you lean toward business development or cultural communication?
Paris Luo: Both. Firstly, to promote the sport itself, we have officially set up the 1003 POLO Club at the Lee World G9 International Manor in Huailai County, 100 kilometers from Beijing. This is the world’s first-ever women’s polo club. Through this, we hope to increase the presence of Chinese polo in the world and to attract international players and people in the industry to China.
At the same time, we have launched a strategic partnership with Guards Polo Club of the UK, the world’s top polo club. Guards Polo Club is the UK’s most historical polo club. Its chairman is the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In the past decade, many Chinese polo lovers had sought to partner with Guards Polo Club, but to no avail. And 1003 POLO did it. We achieved a full-on partnership with them from branding to joint matches and joint membership. We will also be recruiting a ”founders’ team” in China, led by me in June next year, ready to compete.
Next, on the business side, 1003 POLO plans to acquire 30,000 users in 2 to 3 years, while also beginning to recruit our city partners. Our goal is to set up 30 polo schools in China within 3 to 5 years, and we hope to establish a polo ecosystem domestically.
iAsk: If we look still further beyond, in a decade, what do you think 1003 POLO will be like? What will Paris Luo be doing?
Paris Luo: I hope that 1003 POLO will become a widely respected company around the world, a polo miracle. Somebody had once asked me what kind of courage enabled me to promote such a niche sport in China. I said that after I got to know polo and understand polo, I began to see what perseverance was, what responsibility was, and what it meant to carry a mission. I hope that with our efforts, the sport of polo can come to have a renaissance in China.
At the end of our interview, Paris Luo took the care to emphasize to us that, despite this first-ever women’s polo team, 1003 POLO also welcomes male members. What they seek to promote is to make everybody enjoy the polo culture and identify with the polo spirit.
Just like how Paris Luo described her team: brave, independent, persistent and well-cultured—these are also qualities that we saw on this trail-blazer of Chinese women’s polo.