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The Inspiring Eight: Xiaomi Founders

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The most important thing is to focus, focus, focus. – Lei Jun

As the world grew attached to the Internet and smartphones, eight Chinese masterminds came together to create a phone that took that took the world by a storm! Lei Jun, Zhou Guangping, Huang Jiangji, Li Wanqiang, Hong Feng, Lin Bin, Liu De and Wang Chuan created one of the best brands to emerge from China.

Let’s take a look at these successful entrepreneurs.

1. Lei Jun


Jun Lei is the lesser known founder, chairman and CEO of the company. He was part of the founding team of Kingsoft in 1992 and became its CEO in 1998. He is at present the 12th richest man in China and the 22nd richest man in the technology sector according to Forbes. Jun’s net worth is estimated to be around $ 6.8 billion.

“When facing many complicated issues, I think confidence is the most important thing,” Lei Jun.

2. Lin Bin

Lin Bin is the President of the smartphone company. He graduated from Drexel University with a Master’s in computer science and went on to work with Microsoft. He also became the engineering director for Google Global and the vice president of the Google China Institute of Engineering. In March 2015, Lin Bin was ranked as the 87th richest man on the Forbes Billionaires List, with an estimated net worth of $ 13.2 billion.
3. Li Wanqiang

Li Wanqiang, is the current head of Mi.com ecommerce team and the vice president of Xiaomi. Li headed the MUI and Mi.com teams when the company was founded. He also worked at Kingsoft as the general manager of Kingsoft Dictionary, chief designer of the UI Department, director of Design Center and director of Internet Content. He is considered to be one of the earliest UI and HCI experts in China.
4. Zhou Guangping
Senior Vice President and Director of Xiaomi’s MI Phone Team, Guangping Zhou initially worked at Motorola as the Chief of Hardware R&D of the Ming series. He was the senior director of the Motorola Beijing R&D Center. He also served as the chief engineer and director of the R&D Center of Motorola Personal Communication Department, vice chairman of the Mobile Patent Committee in Motorola China Research Academy and the vice chairman of Cellphone Quality Control in Motorola Asia Pacific. He has a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech University in Electrical Engineering and currently leads the Hardware and BSP teams.
5. Huang Jiangji

Computer Science graduate from Purdue University Huang Jiangji, worked for Microsoft from 1997 – 2010 where he became the Principal Development Manager. He has served as an independent director for Xiaomi since January 2015 and currently leads the Mi WiFi and Mi Cloud teams. While at Microsoft, he oversaw the development of products such as the high performance analysis system of Microsoft’s business servers and B2B systems.
6. Hong Feng
Vice President and head of the MUI division of Xiaomi, Hong Feng has a Computer Science and Engineering degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from Purdue University. He has also worked at Siebel and at Google as the Senior Product Manager of Google China and has led the Google China team.
7. Wang Chuan

Vice President Wang Chuan graduated from Beijing University of Technology with a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. Before Xiaomi, he founded Thunder Stone Technology Ltd., in 1997 and led the company to be the largest audio visual entertainment equipment supplier in China. Wang is currently the CEO of Beijing Duokan Technology Co., Ltd., which he founded in 2010. He became the Vice President of Xiaomi in 2012 and is the current director for Internet TV related products such as Mi TV and Mi Box.
8. Liu De

Liu De was one of the only 20 Chinese students to receive a diploma from Art Center College of Design in 80 years. He graduated with a Master’s Degree in Industrial Design and returned to China to establish the Industrial Design Department at Beijing University of Technology. Liu founded and served as chief designer of New Edge, an industrial design company in 2013 and was also a partner of Rethink Concept in LA. He is the vice president of the company and leads Xiaomi’s Industrial Design and Ecosystem Development programs.
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The Biggest Achievements, Failures And Controversies Of 2017

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2017. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Indian startup ecosystem grew to become one of the biggest ecosystems of the world. Major international venture capital firms invested skyrocketing capital in multiple startup firms. Many new startups were acquired, some acquisitions failed at the finish line. But, overall, it was a very eventful year for startups in India. In no particular order, let’s take a look at some of the biggest startup moments of 2017.

Flipkart – Snapdeal Acquisition
One of the most talked about mergers that continued for more than 6 months, ecommerce giant Flipkart’s acquisition of Snapdeal would have marked the dawn of a new ecommerce era. With SoftBank’s interest in investing in Flipkart, this was supposed to be one of the biggest deals in the ecommerce ecosystem. But, minority investors such as Wipro founder Azim Premji’s investment arm PremjiInvest and others opposed the acquisition due to various issues. Ultimately, despite multiple attempts, the Flipkart and Snapdeal acquisition was called off.

Axis Bank Acquires Digital Payments Startup FreeCharge
Axis Bank, one of the biggest lending firms in India, acquired Snapdeal owned digital payments platform FreeCharge in the middle the Flipkart and Snapdeal merger talks. Launched in 2010, FreeCharge competes against other digital wallets like Paytm and Mobikwik. In accordance with the deal, Axis Bank got access to about 50 million FreeCharge consumers and the 200 member FreeCharge team joined Axis Bank.

Zomato Acquires Runnr
Zomato, India’s leading restaurant discovery and food delivery firm acquired Runnr for about $ 20 million. This acquisition helped Zomato shore up its food delivery business, amid intense competition from rapidly growing rivals such as Swiggy. The deal also gave Runnr a second life which was struggling to raise funds facing tough competition from other food delivery startups like Swiggy and Foodpanda.

Ola Acquires Foodpanda
It clearly was a year for acquisitions in the food tech industry. After the launch of UberEATS, the global taxi hailing firm Uber’s food delivery arm, the homegrown taxi hailing startup Ola acquired the online food ordering and delivery startup, Foodpanda to enter the foodtech industry. Ola invested $ 200 million in the company while Foodpanda’s parent company Delivery Hero received a percentage of Ola’s stock. It will be interesting to see how this new partnership will benefit both the companies and how it will affect Swiggy and Zomato’s domination of the food delivery industry in the coming year. 

While 2017 was a great year for a few startups, not many were so lucky. Here is a list of those startups who have seen better days.

Stayzilla, homestay platform was shut down and the founder was arrested
Early this year, one of the biggest online homestay networks shut down its operations. Over a period of seven years, Stayzilla offered more than 55000 stay options across 4000 towns in India catering to both travelers as well as homeowners who are looking for unique and differentiated stay experiences. A month after the company closed up shop, its founder Yogendra Vasupal was arrested and sent to jail by the Chennai Police Commissioner after a case was filed against him by Jigsaw Advertising, accusing him of fraud. In a dramatic plot twist, Stayzilla’s co founder Sachit Singh received a box from an anonymous source containing a voodoo doll and his son’s photo inside. The package had an added message that said, “The most special way to say you care.” Not the best way to start the year. 30 days later Vasupal was granted bail by the Madras High Court and the HC Judge termed this case as “purely a dispute between two businessmen” while granting bail.

The Snapdeal Fallout
Following a failed merger and the exit of its largest investor SoftBank, which went ahead and invested in Snapdeal’s biggest rival Flipkart, to say 2017 was a bad year for this ecommerce firm would be an understatement. In addition to investment problems, the company also faced multiple expensive legal battles with Paytm Mall and GoJavas. While Axis Bank’s acquisition of FreeCharge gave the company some breathing room, Snapdeal still had to let go of most of its employees. However, the ecommerce firm is still fighting and is focused on its growth path towards building Snapdeal 2.0.

Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh join the Startup India Initiative

The Indian Government refused to be left behind in this Indian startup frenzy. In an attempt to help more such startups grow, both Central and State Governments launched multiple programmes, schemes and initiatives. Here are the programmes launched by the various governments in 2017. In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Startup India Initiative, the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh launched several initiatives to boost startups.

The Uttar Pradesh Government established the biggest incubator in India to provide assistance and funding to new businesses and startups. Chief Minister of UP, set up a Rs. 1000 crores startup fund to encourage startup schemes in the State.

Similarly, the Kerala Government allotted 12 new projects under the State Poverty Eradication Mission’s Kudumbashree program. These projects were a part of the Startup Village Entrepreneurship Program (SVEP) set up by the Union Ministry for Rural Development.

Never one to be left behind, the Karnataka Government also launched the “Elevate Program” to identify 100 of the most innovative startups in Karnataka. The selected startups received funding and mentorship to turn their ideas into successful businesses. The Government also invested close to Rs. 40 crores in the construction of a state of the art artificial intelligence (AI) and data science capabilities center in collaboration with NASSCOM. Named as the Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, the tech hub aims to accelerate the development of artificial intelligence and data science related technologies.

The Hyderabad based startup engine T Hub also launched the Smart City/Smart Building NanoAccelerate Programme in association with United Technologies Corporation (UTC.) Five startups were selected under this program and were given an opportunity to collaborate with UTC, prioritize their solution and develop a proof of concept (POC) on the prioritized solution.

The Andhra Pradesh Government not only launched the one of its kind Blockchain Business Conference in Vizag but also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the US based company, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT.) HTT, under the agreement, will introduce the futuristic “Hyperloop” transportation system in the State Capital region, Amravati. Further, Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., has also made an agreement with the AP Government to sell their newly developed technology in order to provide internet for millions of people without laying any cables. 2,000 boxes will be installed as far as 20 kilometers apart, on posts and rooftops to bring fast internet to connect populated areas, using laser beaming boxes which rely on Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) tech.

2017 was a roller coaster ride filled with highs, lows and loopholes. We hope 2018 will bring more good news, greater technology and inspiring innovations that will make this world a happier and easier place to live in. Startup Stories wishes all of its readers a very happy and prosperous New Year 2018!

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Top Five Inventions Through The Ages!

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It’s Christmas! We, at Startup Stories, would like to wish all you readers a very happy and Merry Christmas. Since Christmas is the time of giving, spreading joy and love, let’s take a look at some of the inventions that have helped humans through the ages, making the world an easier and better place to live.

1. Electricity and the light bulb
Any inventions list will be incomplete without electricity and the light bulb. Where would humans be if we did not have electricity to power our day to day lives? The electric light bulb invented by Thomas Alva Edison is, to this day, considered to be one of the most important inventions, paving the path for many other inventions and discoveries. On the other hand, while Benjamin Franklin is given credit for discovering electricity, electricity became a reality due to the contributions of various scientists over a period of time.

2. Printing Press
The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15 century. Gutenberg’s printing press reduced the cost of printing books and other documents thereby allowing for books to be printed even in lesser numbers. By the 16th century, the output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies. The arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication and resulted in a sharp increase in literacy. Today, practically every alternate house has a printer.
 
3. Computers
Computers, like electricity, have now become a part and parcel of our daily life. These electronic devices that could initially only manipulate, store, retrieve or process data are now used for basically everything in life. Next generation computers can process all forms of data, prioritize information, suggest solutions, learn habits over time and come with personalized digital assistants. Charles Babbage is hugely credited with this invention.

4. Internet
One of the most important inventions, at least for the millennials, is the Internet brought about a huge change in the way the world communicated with each other. Initially designed to be used by the American military, the Internet has now taken over the majority of the industries, digitizing the entire world. Now, new industries like the startup ecosystem are on a rise due to easy access to the internet and its ability to connect the world.

5. Smartphones
Where do we even begin with smartphones? Since 2007, when the first iPhone hit the markets, smartphones have only made life super easy. Right from scheduling appointments to carrying a digital assistant in your pocket and creating augmented realities in your backyard, the smartphones of now can do it all.

This is our list of inventions that have made our life a piece of cake. If you feel we missed out on any amazing inventions, discoveries and innovations, let us know in the comments below. If you are creating the next big thing, write to us at [email protected].

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Bharti Foundation Donates 10% Of Family Wealth To The Giving Pledge Initiative

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The Bharti Family, led by industrialist, Sunil Mittal Bharti, announced early today, it would pledge 10% of its wealth (approximately Rs. 7000 crores,) including their 3%  stake in the Bharti Group flagship, Bharti Airtel, towards Bharti Foundations, the charitable arm of the organization.

With this move, the Bharti Foundation plans on significantly increasing the scope and reach of the Foundation, thereby giving the Group a wider berth for growth. Further, the Foundation plans on increasing innovative development models to support aspirations of India’s underprivileged, including the students of Satya Bharti Schools.

The Foundation works with around 2,40,000 underprivileged children in an attempt to increase the level of education provided to them. The company, in a statement, said the Satya Bharti University for Science and Technology would have a strong focus on future technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Internet of Things, in addition to offering degrees in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Management.

This pledge by the Bharti family is yet another example of billionaires extending into philanthropy. Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani recently signed the Giving Pledge Initiative sponsored by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, which is an invitation to the world’s wealthiest to donate a majority of their wealth to charity.

The only other Indians to have signed the Giving Pledge Initiative are Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, Biocon MD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and P.N.C. Menon of Sobha Developers. The Bharti family draws a strong influence from Mahatma Gandhi’s way of life and this move reaffirms that very fact. The Bharti Foundation helped establish the Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology and Management at IIT Delhi, Bharti Centre for Communication at IIT Mumbai and Bharti Institute of Public Policy at ISB Mohali.

Global taxi hailing startup Uber’s co founder Garrett Camp announced he’s also joining the Giving Pledge to donate at least half of their fortune to philanthropic causes. In a blog post, Camp added, “I’ve now spent 15 years focused mostly on startups and while I’m still passionate about creating useful products, I also realized I shouldn’t wait to start giving back.” 

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