UTS alumnus wins prestigious award for entrepreneurship

22 November 2016

UTS Business School graduate and social entrepreneur Tony Zhuang has been recognised for his innovative, inclusive and international approach to developing a socially-minded eyewear business.

Tony ZhuangUTS Business School alumnus Tony Zhuang (Master of Business Finance, 2005) has been honoured at the 8th Annual Australia China Alumni Awards for his excellence in the field of entrepreneurship, through his pioneering work as Co-Founder and Managing Director of Motion Global, one of the largest designer eyewear e-commerce companies in the world.

The innovator, social entrepreneur and e-commerce entrepreneur was presented with the Austrade–Australia China Alumni Award for Entrepreneurship at a glittering award ceremony and dinner held in Guangzhou on Saturday 19 November.

In 2006, Zhuang and two friends hatched a plan to start a business. All from vastly different backgrounds, they united behind a single goal: to create a socially-minded global company to deliver pioneering value, range and service in an industry where consumers traditionally purchased offline. In this process, they also wanted to fight poverty in some of the world’s poorest communities by providing free prescription glasses.

With no money or funding but with infinite stores of passion, and complimentary corporate expertise, they started from building their business from scratch in each of their bedrooms from Australia, Sweden and Shanghai. Working part-time jobs to support themselves, and forgoing a lot of sleep, they founded Motion Global.

As an early adopter in the online eyewear market, Zhuang and his co-founders originally focused on the Australian market, launching with the Vision Direct brand in 2006. Since then, and under the innovative leadership of Zhuang, the company has developed a significant global presence and has shown particularly strong growth in the Chinese market, and its SmartBuyGlasses Optical Group is a global e-commerce leader in the designer eyewear industry with 150 employees operating in 15 languages across 30 countries worldwide.

Furthermore, the company maintains a strong commitment to social justice and fighting poverty through its innovative, socially-minded entrepreneurial culture, demonstrated by the company’s Buy One Give One social movement.

Through this program, glasses are donated to developing countries in Africa and Asia. In collaboration with Unite for Sight and other partners, the company recently reached a donation milestone in providing over $2 million worth of free eyeglasses to developing countries – equating to more than 78,000 lives positively impacted.

Zhuang, who received the award for his innovative, inclusive and international approach to business and his concern for social justice, makes him yet another outstanding ambassador and role model for UTS and all Australian universities. 

The Australia China Alumni Awards, established in 2009, are a high-profile initiative recognising the wide-ranging achievements of graduates of Australian universities that are currently based in China, both local and expatriate.

Over 500,000 Chinese students have studied in Australia since the early 1970s, and the Australia China Alumni Awards celebrates the successes that have been achieved upon returning home. The awards also seek to recognise the diverse achievements of Australian expatriates in China, and the deepening Australia-China relationship.

Story by Courtney Goddard