Utilizing IT technology as an information highway for China's enterprises
I. Enterprise Introduction
China Network Construction Center is undertaken by Tianjin Zhongke Network Technology Co. Ltd, whose business is focused on website construction for enterprise promotion online.
It also provides services in domain name registration, website hosting, and basic network platform. The company was founded on April 15, 2003. Over the years,through the struggling efforts made by all the staff, we have adapted to the various changes of the market by withstanding various tests. We have gradually expanded our market and deepened our services. According to the demand of the market, we are now adjusting company structure currently. We always pursue the "sincere and pragmatic, long-term service" concept. We make full use of IT for Tianjin enterprises by building the link between Tianjin enterprises and international ones. We aim to achieve better management of an enterprises information, by which, they would gain more benefit, and achieve greater development.
II. brief resume of the entrepreneur
1. Name: Duan Yanfen
2. Age: 48
3. Company positions: legal representative
4. previous relevant experience
A. 1974.10 -1992.9, engaged in enterprise management work
B. 1992.10-2000, founded Xiadi firms and seven other enterprises
C. 2001, founded Hedong District Director of Home Services Company
D. 2001 founded Xiadi Daily Appliance Operation Company
E. April 15, 2003, Established Tianjin Zhongke Network Technology Co. Ltd
1. Is this the first company that you have started, and what drove you towards it?
"Life should be as candles, burned from the top to the end, which is always being bright." This is a famous word from Xiaochunv, which inspired me. The law of my life does not allow the candle to burn out halfway. Since I was laid-off, I have never let down my pace of steps. On April 15, 2003, I started the network company. It stands till today. I spent the best time of my life in the enterprise. When getting into middle-age, many people can not accept the reality of corporate failures. So it is with me. I did not want to give up after failures with my previous companies. I wanted to do something. I would have liked to be a short candle to emit its own weak light to illuminate more people. What should I do? I considered for a long time. After doing some market research, I constantly told myself that I must be committed. Because once I started, I had to be prepared not just for a short time but for years and even longer. I had to struggle for it by using all my lifetime. I saw the prospects of IT industry and decided that to create an IT enterprise. Someone may ask why I set up a network company? I would say, first of all, networking is a prospective industry, which only has less than ten-year history in China. Secondly, I am a person who came from a failed enterprise. In China, you can see many enterprises like it. If a company wants to be invincible, it has to use the advanced technology to promote the production. The Internet is a good
way for them to develop. My company wants to be a pioneer to pave the way to help countless Chinese companies to give them pairs of wings to fly on the information highway from Tianjin to the World.
2. How did you finance your start-up operations and how long did it take for the company to become self-sustainable?
The entire starting fund was from my savings for years. I was fortunate to cooperate with the two young people -Zhao xuelei and Zhang xu- who are also members of the company's shareholders. We three successfully founded Tianjin Zhongke Network Technology Co. Ltd. We have received a lot of help from the community especially the help from the TWBI. I have had various feelings including bitterness and happiness on this journey. The happiness of harvest is an intangible asset for me. It is deeply cherished in my heart, and dissolved in my blood. Furthermore, I want to construct a platform for young people to enable them to get more capital when graduated from university. China Network Construction Center is just this kind of firm, which grants young people the great opportunity to be themselves. In the company, everyone is able to act as the boss to develop business for the company, and to make great contributions. Six months after the company was founded, it achieved self-sustainability.
3. What are your major products and services and how are they uinque? What is your competition?
It is not difficult to start a business. What’s difficult is to survive and develop. Six months after the investment, the company had the normal operating income, and realized self-running. Our main products are network-construction for enterprises, including network development and database management. We mainly focus on the service. Our server is kept running for 24-hours. Problems are solved immediately. This has been highly praised by customers. Each product of our company requires good communication with customers in order to meet their different needs. We focus on top-end customer service, and provide the service with good security and stability, which is our competitive advantage.
4. How do you measure the success of the company?
In the whole process of starting business, we are happy. Although we have not had considerable profits, we are satisfied because we know how to develop our company, what the role our company should play in the market, what is the direction the company should head for.
5. Who are your clients and how many do you have? How are you focusing on expanding your user community?
We target the developing small and medium-sized enterprises which focus on using information to expand their reputation and credibility. Internet is the most convenient way to communicate with customers, which saves those enterprises a lot of human power and resources. We also help some enterprises to gradually become aware the network’s function. We have more than 300 fixed customers. As to the question how to expand the customer base, we have tried to provide multi-shape network platform, so as to open up new business.
6. Are you planning to patent your product and do you see any obstacles in doing so?
In January 2007, we went to the Tianjin Software Certification Association to apply for the product certification. Because of the complex process and cumbersome requirements of documents, we were only approved for a copyright for one product.
7. What was the biggest challenge in stating an innovative business in your country and how did you overcome that?
What's the most important thing in business? Many people would think that the technology is most important in the first year, market in the second year, and management in the third year. I believe the management is most important no matter when. In a business what’s constant is to study. The market,environment, policy, technology, and people's minds are all changing. The only thing that does not change is change. We have to keep learning to face the changes. In the last few years of our business, we experienced lessons of blood. We paid too much “tuition fees”. Blindly expanded the scale of company once trapped us into difficulties. One time, TWBI helped to organize the different classes and invited experts to give us analysis of our problems. We realized how to efficiently utilize management. Due to the timely adjustment of our enterprise’s development direction, the company was able to gradually come out of difficulty. We understood that we should have walked on the road which was suitable for our development.
8. Who are the shareholders in your company?
The shareholders of Tianjin Zhongke Network Technology Co. Ltd are Yanfen, Zhang Xu and Zhao Lei.
9. How have you benefited from business incubation?
My company has benefited a lot from the Tianjin Women's Business Incubator. In the early 2004, my company encountered some problems. I went to the TWBI for consulting, and joined the business incubators. In the cradle of TWBI, our entrepreneurial team received strong support from the centre. The experienced professor who came from the University of Finance and Economics gave us a long-term guiding consultantcy as well. TWBI gave us a number of opportunities to participate in different trainings and expert assessment. In the business incubator, we have been able to grow. It makes us never feel lonely. Our confidence has increased.
10. Do you have some specific lessons that you know now and wish you would have known when you started your business, and which you would like to share with fellow entrepreneurs?
Many lessons can be learned by our business. No one else can take your journey for you, and the failure must be experienced by ourselves. What I want to share with other entrepreneurs is firstly to have self-confidence, be prepared to bear hardships, and have a long-term plan. Based on that, according to the needs of the market and changes in the market, adjust the strategic objectives, prepare sufficient funds, and do a good job in management.
11. How do you plan to internationalize your product and if so, how?
Internet has no regional and international boundaries. My company's product platform is just about to go abroad to the world. I want to inform the world about China and Tianjin by using the IT technology. My company is ready for the construction of the information highway for Chinese enterprises.
12. With hindsight, are there any particular lessons or message that you wish you would have known when you started up your company?
The characteristic of the internet is that it changes very fast with high rate of elimination through selection of market. It is also a young people-intensive industry. Management is extremely important. I really hope that this could be realized when I started my company.
13. Do you feel that you had the necessary advisory and support network when you started your company?
When starting the business, we did lot of market research and analysis. The realization of a business plan should not solely depend on the imagination; it depends on having the courage and wisdom to make decision. It is necessary to have a scientific attitude to the market, to analyze customers, to develop products, and to manage the operational leadership of a strong team. We are deeply grateful to all the staff of TWBI, who have given us many valuable advices and offered SYB courses. TWBI helped us build the courage and confidence to challenge the market. We are going to be successful with the hope and courage of TWBI. I believe what man can accomplish can be accomplished by women too,and do better.
14. What is your message to funders/supporters and what is your message to the users of your product?
It takes time for an enterprise to develop. With the time passing and the accumulation of experience, our company has already gained some experience. We have very clear direction for the development. The funders of our company should be relieved. For our customers and product users, we can also tell them that we will keep introducing new products according to their needs. We will do a better job through online communication, interaction and other services.I hope that more people will understand IT and the Internet, pay more attention to the high-speed transmission of information, and use our products better. Our enterprises will be bigger and stronger with good service through the Internet.