A world of op­por­tu­ni­ties awaits tech­nol­ogy start-ups

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS -

For Liu Chunhe, go­ing global is not an op­tion for Chi­nese tech­nol­ogy start-ups; it is in­evitable.

He is the founder and CEO of Solo Tech­nol­ogy, a com­pany in Bei­jing that pro­vides help with op­ti­miz­ing the An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

Liu, 31, be­lieves that for smallscale tech com­pa­nies like his there are huge op­por­tu­ni­ties in de­vel­op­ing economies where the mo­bile In­ter­net in­dus­try is still un­der­de­vel­oped, such as in Brazil and In­done­sia.

“The mo­bile In­ter­net in­dus­try has con­nected peo­ple across the world. Big com­pa­nies such as Google, Ap­ple and Face­book have built very good plat­forms to pro­vide global ser­vices that can help us tap over­seas mar­kets. If you can launch an app that can gain trac­tion in the app stores, it can be­come known across the world.”

The Chi­nese mar­ket

is al­ready fiercely com­pet­i­tive, so look­ing to vir­tu­ally un­tapped over­seas mar­kets is a nat­u­ral step, he said.

On March 26, Solo an­nounced it had bought Lead­hug, a global mo­bile ad­ver­tis­ing net­work based in Bei­jing.

The com­pany has about 300 mil­lion cus­tomers across 100 coun­tries and re­gions, Liu said.

“In the next phase we will mar­ket over­seas and build a so­cial net­work for our cus­tomers,” he said, adding that the tar­get is to reach 1 bil­lion cus­tomers and achieve a mar­ket value of $10 bil­lion.

“More im­por­tantly, we want to make Solo a great com­pany, the same as Google and Face­book, one that can make huge changes to peo­ple’s lives.”

Liu, who comes from the east­ern prov­ince of Shan­dong, es­tab­lished Solo in 2009 shortly af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Bei­jing Univer­sity of Posts and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“Life is full of choices. I had many good of­fers, such as from Baidu and Ten­cent, that of­fered a hand­some salary for a grad­u­ate, about 20,000 yuan ($3,100) a month. But I just wanted to set up my own busi­ness, and I had the con­fi­dence to make it hap­pen.”

He de­scribed the life of a startup CEO as be­ing “full of chal­lenges, tears, charm and ful­fill­ment”. At first, he said, his team did not fea­ture many grad­u­ates from top uni­ver­si­ties, and many in­vestors turned him down as they be­lieved he was too young and lacked ex­pe­ri­ence in busi­ness man­age­ment.

“When I started, I told every­one that I wanted to cre­ate a great com­pany. Orig­i­nally, 99.99 per­cent of peo­ple didn’t be­lieve in me, but the 0.01 per­cent who did have helped me stick to my dream.”

To­day, Solo is es­ti­mated to be worth $500 mil­lion and has worked with the likes of Face­book and Ya­hoo.

Its head­quar­ters, which oc­cu­pies 500 square me­ters in cen­tral Bei­jing, em­ploys about 150 peo­ple, with the av­er­age age about 24. The com­pany also has an of­fice in Sil­i­con Val­ley in Cal­i­for­nia.

Liu said one of the big­gest chal­lenges for start-ups is tal­ent re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion.

“To keep good work­ers you need to treat them like fam­ily; care about their fu­ture and make them see that the com­pany has great po­ten­tial,” he said.

Last month, Liu flew his em­ploy­ees to the Mal­dives for the com­pany’s an­nual con­fer­ence, and he said he has handed out bonuses of 10,000 yuan in cash and 100,000 yuan in stock to model em­ploy­ees.

“Solo is a young com­pany, so we have to learn from big com­pa­nies, do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional,” he added.

One of his big­gest in­flu­ences has been Elon Musk, the en­tre­pre­neur and in­ven­tor who is head of Tesla Mo­tors and pre­vi­ously founded Pay­pal.

“I’m much younger than him. Based on the fast-chang­ing Chi­nese mar­ket, and the in­creas­ing abil­ity to in­no­vate, we should be hope­ful about the fu­ture. These are great times that of­fer many op­por­tu­ni­ties for or­di­nary peo­ple like me to change the world.”

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Liu Chunhe (right) is the founder and CEO of Solo Tech­nol­ogy, a com­pany in Bei­jing that pro­vides ways to op­ti­mize the An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

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