coolux: One Year in China
China, with its population of over 1.3 billion people and staggering yearly growth rates, has proven to be a tough, yet potentially highly profitable market for western businesses to enter. On one hand the possibilities for business development seem endless, on the other hand, unexpected challenges await newly arrived western companies around every corner. Since especially smaller companies are not always in the lucky position of having employees that speak and read Mandarin fluently, having reliable business partners is an absolute necessity.
The award winning German hard- and software company coolux GmbH established its China regional office coolux China Ltd. little more than one year ago. coolux China Ltd. CEO Kim Lee encountered coolux for the first time in 2004. His extensive experience in the lighting industry enabled him to quickly appreciate the practical philosophy behind the Pandoras Box product range:
„We really liked the fact that you could separate layers and content on site. At that time, nobody else had a concept quite like it. We immediately thought that this would be the way forward in the next five to ten years. Gradually we discovered just how many possibilities one had with media servers. We saw the potential opening up. Not just projectors, but the LED and the plasma market needed good control and playback systems as well. That is why coolux products became our favourite choice.“
The relationship between Kim Lee and the German coolux GmbH deepened over the following years and finally led to coolux China Ltd. being officially founded in 2009. Lee’s Hong Kong heritage was a definitive advantage in forming business relations with a European company like coolux. Being able to understand both the western mentality and the traditional Chinese approach to business meant that coolux China Ltd. was able to become a highly successful entry point into the Chinese market in record time. Due to the hitherto unseen scale in terms of multimedia quality and quantity, opening up a branch office in Shanghai was a must.
„It gives our Chinese customers a lot of confidence to receive support from here locally. We speak the same language, have the same lifestyle and know how the market works." coolux China Ltd. does not only sell coolux Pandoras Box systems, but offers training sessions in Mandarin as well. There is little doubt in Lee’s mind that the Chinese market will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, a sentiment he shares with Jian Min Xiao, president of Foremost Group.
At the time when Foremost first came into being in 2003, the event industry in China was still in its infancy, compared to the current situation that was greatly helped by the massive investment surrounding the Shanghai EXPO. One of the most memorable projects realised with the help of Foremost (in conjunction with the German agency Triad) includes the impressive Urban Planet Pavilion with its breathtaking dome projection, that was made possible using coolux Pandoras Box products.
After an initial great success with their work for the then newly built Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Foremost quickly became one of the most important companies utilizing high-tech audio-visual equipment including media servers and related products in their varied project portfolio.
When asked about possible growth opportunities, Foremost president Mr. Jian Min Xiao pointed to the fact that Chinese city planning schemes will lead to countless cities that will each have their own museums and science centres at some point in the near future. He even goes so far to predict that the multimedia and system integration industry might grow to ten times its current size within the next few years.
Besides their great experience and excellent contacts, Foremost offers their customers complete solutions that span hardware and software as well as general planning and media production services. Regarding coolux, Mr. Jian Min Xiao had this to say: „I love the coolux product line and strategy very much. I have a lot of expectations for the future.“
Amidst all these extremely positive future prospects, one should not forget that exactly the same factors that have allowed Kim Lee’s coolux China Ltd. team to go from strength to strength could well be potential risk factors for new companies seeking to enter the Chinese market successfully. Lee thinks that finding the right kind of business partner is a key factor in achieving a lasting success.
„From what I’ve seen I think that some companies just find the wrong contacts and subsequently end up in a wrong direction with their business. Understanding both worlds, Asian and Western, can be a great advantage. In addition to this, it is very important to have the actual personnel ready to take care of the products and offer enough service to satisfy the customers’ needs. Having support personnel in the same country is definitely something our customers value very much.“
“If things continue to develop the way they have for coolux China Ltd. , we envision a situation, where we might branch out into four different regional districts, with a network of highly trained partners who can use their own dialects for training potential new coolux Pandoras Box users. We wish to grow to the point here in China so that at the end of the day, when a customer needs a media server or something related, they will think of coolux as the one brand to go for.”
Whichever new successes and challenges the future will bring, one thing seems crystal clear: The first year of coolux Ltd. in China was a great success across the board, satisfying a great number of high profile customers.