Weihan Bo, a Year Four student in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, has described transforming from having no idea about his future career to becoming an entrepreneurial talent who has founded his own intelligent home business before he has even graduated.
“My dream is to connect things together,” said Weihan (pictured below) of his business that develops smart home products that are networked for remote control.
“I initially studied information and computing science when I entered XJTLU. However, I found that I was more interested in artificial intelligence so I moved to the computer science and technology programme,” he explains.
He enjoyed pursuing his interests and was passionate about programming and algorithms. His third year at XJTLU was extraordinary for him, combining both studying late into the night with devoting all his spare energy to the work of designing and developing a smart lock, which can be operated using a mobile phone.
Encouraged by his tutors, Weihan and two fellow students who had the same interests, Ziheng Guo and Tao Shen, formed a product development team. With their smart lock idea, the team won first prize in the seventh Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition at XJTLU. Subsequently, they won second prize in the Jiangsu Province College Students’ Computer Design Competition.
The team’s achievements in competitions attracted attention from investors. Securing actual investment, however, was still a difficult process: “I used to think others’ entrepreneurship stories were inspirational, but it is really hard to actually do it!” said Weihan.
Having gone through several rounds of negotiation and communication, Weihan and the team finally reached an agreement with an investor last December, receiving RMB five million to establish the company.
Weihan’s next challenge came soon after, with his two team members graduating from XJTLU and Weihan finding it impossible to run a company on his own.
During this difficult period he participated in a design competition in South Jiangsu province in order to meet new people who could join the team and market his business. During this competition, staff in the Career Development Office at the University introduced Weihan to Zhihe Zhao, a Year Two student at XJTLU, and he joined the team.
After the pair won a third prize at the design competition, they met businessman Jianhua Xu, who became an important partner in the company thanks to his experience in operating companies and his knowledge of the internet of things.
Jianhua is impressed with the pair’s approach to business: “What is most valuable is people who not only have innovative ideas but, like Weihan and Zhihe, also have the skills and abilities to execute them,” he said.
With the help of Jianhua, as well as former team member Tao who gave up a stable job in Shanghai to rejoin the team, a stronger team was developed based on its original foundation.
At present, their company (the team is pictured above) is producing mainly tailor-made smart home products and home decorations that can be operated remotely.
“Four years here at XJTLU gives you abundant time and space to seriously consider what kind of life is meaningful to you,” said Weihan, who will graduate from the University in July. “You have the chance to use your abilities, and test your courage, dreams and wild ideas.”