Born in 1969, Feng Jun graduated from China’s elite university Tsinghua in 1992. His degree was in civil engineering and on graduation he was assigned to the headquarters of Construction Engineering Corporation. He left on his first day after being told he was to be transferred to Malaysia. Instead he headed for Beijing’s IT district Zhongguancun, where he would set up his own business, Huaqi Information Digital Technology.
Feng started out making computer keyboards and cases – the steel boxes that cover PCs. At a computer fair he managed to persuade local wholesalers of the quality of his product. “I am not making money,” he told them “I only add five yuan to the cost.” His strategy of selling high volume at razor thin margins earned him the nickname ‘Feng 5 yuan’. His Little Sun keyboard soon gained 70% of the market in northern China.
By 1996, knock-offs of his Little Sun goods had started to appear. So Feng decided to invest in a new brand: Aigo. He wanted to develop a consumer lifestyle brand so he has moved into making MP3 players, digital cameras and USB flash drives. He also spent big bucks on the design of a new logo, courtesy of Ogilvy & Mather, to help with the launch of Aigo products in international markets. The logo later appeared on McLaren’s Formula One racing cars. Last year, Feng signed a deal with Manchester United to be the English football team’s global IT partner.
Need to know
According to the 21CN Business Herald Feng would like Aigo to become “China’s Samsung”. The company now sells more digital cameras in Europe than in China and is the world’s biggest seller of USB flash drives. It ranks first in China’s MP3 and MP4 businesses too. In December Feng hired Qu Jindong, the former marketing vice-president of Samsung Greater China, to become CEO of Beijing Aigo Storage Technology. He plans a listing within five years. And his managers have an incentive to work hard: 50% of Beijing Aigo Storage Technology stock will be distributed as options to the top 100 employees.
He loves chess – although he prefers the Western version of the game to the Chinese one.
In his own words
On his expectations of the deal with Manchester United: “Compared to Japanese brands, Aigo has a price advantage, but lacks a brand advantage. Manchester United has 300 million registered fans. Since Manchester United recognises Aigo products, we will be able to have access to the word-of-mouth of those fans and establish the brand.”
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