Soft­ware park gath­er­ing place for young pro­fes­sion­als

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHUAN TI and ZHOU LIHUA As the Chi­nese econ­omy en­ters the new nor­mal with its growth rate slow­ing, in­no­va­tion has been placed at a core po­si­tion in China’s over­all devel­op­ment. China Daily re­cently in­ter­viewed peo­ple in­volved with a lead­ing State-leve

Lo­cated in Wuhan’s Op­tics Val­ley Soft­ware Park, the F4 build­ing looks just like an av­er­age of­fice block from the out­side: hum­ble and grey, there is noth­ing spe­cial about it.

How­ever, this place has al­ready be­come a land­mark among in­ter­net star­tups in Wuhan — home to four lead­ing in­ter­net com­pa­nies, two of which are “uni­corns” with founders born af­ter the 1980s.

A “uni­corn” is the name given to startup com­pa­nies with an es­ti­mated value of over one bill i o n dol­lars, but it also has a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on the devel­op­ment and up­grad­ing of the en­tire in­dus­try.

The ques­tion is, how and why did young and am­bi­tious en­trepreneurs build up their in­ter­net em­pire in Op­tics Val­ley of Wuhan, a city in the mid­dle of China, a thou­sand miles away from the estab­lished tech­nol­ogy cen­ters like Beijing, Shang­hai or Guangzhou?

The abun­dance of Wuhan’s hu­man re­sources may be the an­swer.

Known as the “city of univer­si­ties”, Wuhan has 85 higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions and the world’s largest num­ber of un­der­grad­u­ates, more than one mil­lion.

The sheer quan­tity of af­ford­able young pro­fes­sion­als has at­tracted en­trepreneurs to the city, seek­ing the dy­namic, am­bi­tious and cre­ative young blood like their own.

“Douyu is made by and for young peo­ple, and that is what makes Wuhan an ideal choice,” said Zhang

Douyu is made by and for young peo­ple, and that is what makes Wuhan an ideal choice.” Douyu

Zhang Wen­ming,

the co-founder of

Wen­ming, the co-founder of Douyu, one of the first in­ter­net com­pa­nies in China to pioneer on­line com­pet­i­tive game stream­ing.

“With such a big pop­u­la­tion of un­der­grad­u­ates, Wuhan is our largest mar­ket and tal­ent pool.”

Af­ter only two years since it started in 2014, Douyu em­ploys more than 1,500 peo­ple.

The pro­gres­sive strat­egy and rapid growth re­flect what its name has in­di­cated: Douyu means Si­amese fight­ing fish in Chi­nese, a very ag­gres­sive and ter­ri­to­rial species that can only be raised alone.

“When the con­cept of live-stream­ing for on­line gam­ing first came out, we de­cided to go for it, but we had a hard time find­ing in­vest­ment,” Zhang said.

“There was no pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence to draw from, and most of the in­vestors are too old to un­der­stand the con­cept.

“It has a huge mar­ket po­ten­tial that only young peo­ple can pos­si­bly un­der­stand,” Zhang said.

“Af­ter we got our first in­vest­ment of $3 mil­lion, we as­sumed it could keep the com­pany run­ning for at least half a year, but we quickly burned through the cash within two months.

“We were very rad­i­cal in the be­gin­ning and we hired the world’s top game play­ers to play for us. But our fear­less ac­tion paid off, we have not only oc­cu­pied the en­tire mar­ket, we ac­tu­ally cre­ated it,” Zhang said. “I re­al­ized it was the best age to start my own ca­reer, be­cause I had noth­ing to lose and even if I lost, I can af­ford to start over again.”

Douyu has done its best to cre­ate a com­fort­able work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for young peo­ple — buf­fet fruit and snack bar, a chill-out zone with swings, video games and VR game equip­ment.

“We keep our staff stay­ing in­no­va­tive and never bored by their work,” said Xu Juan­juan, se­nior PR di­rec­tor.

But Douyu is not the only onebil­lion-dol­lar com­pany led and run by re­cent grad­u­ates.

On the sec­ond floor of the same build­ing, Juanpi, an e-com­merce plat­form, just won the ti­tle of uni­corn en­ter­prise, be­com­ing Wuhan’s sec­ond in­ter­net gi­ant.

“E-com­merce plat­forms are not rare now, but we man­aged to fig­ure out an as­pect that no­body has done be­fore,” said Xia Kurt, the pres­i­dent of Juanpi.

“We not only of­fer goods, but also a ser­vice to help cus­tomers to pick the goods with a high price-per­for­mance ra­tio.”

Be­ing a grad­u­ate from Wuhan him­self, Xia rec­og­nizes Wuhan as a city with great po­ten­tial.

“Op­tics Val­ley is the place where young tal­ents go to look for a job now,” said Xia.

“There is a large pop­u­la­tion of young pro­fes­sion­als.”

Apart from the hu­man re­sources, Xia ac­knowl­edged that sup­port from lo­cal govern­ment has played an im­por­tant part in Juanpi’s suc­cess.

“They cut many un­nec­es­sary ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­cesses, which made things much more con­ve­nient for us,” said Xia. “Our suc­cess could not be achieved so quickly un­der the sup­port from Op­tics Val­ley alone. The pol­icy from the govern­ment helped, too.”

Speak­ing on the fu­ture, Xia is pos­i­tive but hopes the govern­ment can go a step fur­ther to bet­ter serve tech star­tups in Wuhan.

“I hope the govern­ment can help up­grade the hu­man re­sources struc­ture,” Xia said.

“Un­like Guangzhou or Shang­hai, we lack the nec­es­sary la­bor for se­nior po­si­tions and cer­tain po­si­tions, such as se­nior mar­ket­ing, prod­uct man­age­ment, etc.”

in Douyu since it started in 2014

PHO­TOS BY ZHANG WEI / CHINA DAILY

Run by a young team mostly made up of mem­bers born af­ter 1990, Douyu has taken a pro­gres­sive ap­proach in its early stages.

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