Col­lege nerds un­der­take a long jour­ney to be­come en­trepreneurs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HU YONGQI

For many re­searchers and tech­nol­o­gists, start­ing a busi­ness in­volves a painful tran­si­tion to ma­tu­rity.

For ex­am­ple, when Jiang Yil­iang and three col­leagues started Xi’an Jin­hua Eco­log­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy Co, the first thing they did was rent a nicely dec­o­rated of­fice in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince, in an at­tempt to im­press cus­tomers and at­tract or­ders.

How­ever, Jiang, the CEO, quickly dis­cov­ered that the of­fice was not an is­sue for po­ten­tial cus­tomers. In­stead, be­fore they would con­sider plac­ing an order they de­manded demon­stra­tions of the com­pany’s new tech­nolo­gies as proof that they would help their busi­nesses.

Jin­hua pro­vides soil re­me­di­a­tion ser­vices, based on test­ing to iden­tify the ne­c­es­sary nu­tri­ents and re­struc­tur­ing the soil to re­tain wa­ter and ben­e­fi­cial el­e­ments.

The govern­ment of the Yan­gling Demon­stra­tion Zone, a city in Shaanxi, has for­mu­lated mea­sures to spur star­tups, in­clud­ing set­ting up a 15,000- square-me­ter En­trepreneur­ship and In­no­va­tion Space.

Jin­hua de­cided to use the zone as a home for its lab­o­ra­tory, which houses ex­per­i­men­tal equip­ment that tests soil com­po­si­tion and pro­vides so­lu­tions to raise crop yields and qual­ity.

“The equip­ment cost 1.5 mil­lion yuan ($222,000). Next, we will rent 3,000 sq m of land for ex­per­i­men­tal farms. Our tech- nolo­gies will be ap­plied to the land as a demon­stra­tion of the dif­fer­ences they can make. That’s the key to get­ting or­ders — when cus­tomers see for them­selves and make their own de­ci­sion to work with us,” co­founder Gao Hai­long said.

The com­pany’s busi­ness model de­vel­oped over time as Jiang and his col­leagues be­came more so­phis­ti­cated in their ap­proach and adapted to new de­mands.

“From the very out­set, we were nerds. Be­ing the CEO is high-pres­sure work be­cause I have to en­sure my col­leagues’ liveli­hoods. They were sup­posed to have good jobs and en­joy­able lives af­ter grad­u­a­tion. But ev­ery­thing de­pends on our man­age­ment skills,” Jiang said.

Gao said one of the most dif­fi­cult as­pects of their work is that most farms are fam­ily run, which makes large-scale farm­ing dif­fi­cult and re­duces op­por­tu­ni­ties to use high-tech ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Faced with the long-term process of trans­form­ing agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy into out­put, the com­pany’s man­age­ment must stay cool and alert to han­dle ev­ery tiny chal­lenge,” he added. “All nerdy peo­ple will have to learn to be more clear­sighted in the fu­ture.”

A mem­ber of staff from Shaanxi Guard Agri­cul­ture Ltd mea­sures chloro­phyll lev­els in plants.

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