To wrap up our journey to China we had to trek back to where it all began, Hong Kong. We boarded the bus for an hour long ride from Shenzhen to Hong Kong with excitement of the night ahead. We would be spending our last night sailing the Hong Kong sees on Carlson Alumn Dr.Richard Lee’s yacht, “Life Style”. After our course wrap up at the hotel we all began getting on our boating outfits so we could get the best possible photos.
We all boarded the Life Style where we were met by Dr. Richard Lee with snacks and drinks. During the boat ride many of us were able to chat with Richard about his life and journey. He was open to telling all of us of the highs and lows that come with immense success. Richard constantly stressed the idea to follow your passions and to put everything you have into that passion, in order to achieve the greatest happiness. This passion for him was Italian motor vehicles, and was apparent through his facial expressions when companies such as Ferarri were brought up. He spent little time talking about his individual success of being responsible for bringing Ferarri to China, and spent more time sharing his wisdom and personal advice with us students.
We were all so happy to end our trip on a beautiful night in the Hong Kong bay riding on the most magnificent boat. There was a little sadness in the air as we all knew this would be the last night we had in Hong Kong, but there was also so much happiness to have this journey come to a close with such a great night. As we daparted from the boat Richard had one last suprise for us; he walked us to a parking lot near the harbor where he had his 1/11 limited edition Ferarri waiting for us to see.
Our last full day in Shenzhen was marked by our last day of site visits. Our first site visit was to Hax Accelerator, which is a hardware accelerator a part of SOSV (a large venture capital company).
At Hax we were able to hear about what industries it focuses on developing products for, as well as their process for developing products and choosing firms to invest in. Hax has 4 areas of focus: (1) consumer (2) health (3) enterprise (4) industrial. Their consumer division is focused on IoT or specialized consumer electronics. One example of a company they’ve invested is Nura; a company that creates headphones that develop a customized tone/equalizer based on the tone/pitch your ears operate at.
After hearing about their areas of focus, we heard a lot about Shenzhen’s local ecosystem of electronics manufacturing and how essential it is to Hax’s operations. We were also able to pitch our idea of a smart lunchbox. Both of the employees had great feedback for our group!
After getting to get a quick tour of their facilities, we headed down to the electronics market, which was right below their office. This market is the largest electronics market in the world; one could go into the market and buy all the necessary components to build an iPhone or laptop. The main (and basically only) reason Hax is located in Shenzhen is because of this market. Due to their location, Hax can leverage the market to rapidly iterate prototypes of products within a matter of weeks.
Our day consisted of three site visits where we learned a lot about three companies pioneering the way for Chinese tech companies.
Kingdee gave us an interesting walkthrough of an in-house exhibit of their technology and innovation. It consisted of breathtaking displays, a look into automated manufacturing, and a look into their cloud technology. It also featured some information about the growth of the company and numerous companies they have worked with.
We were then taken upstairs Suishou where we were greeted by Carlson alumni Branden Chen. He guided us through a presentation about his financial services apps, Suishouji and Cardniu. These apps help enable individuals receive financial services which they may not have had access to before. Suishou has been so successful that both of these apps are only behind WeChat Pay and Alipay. Brendan also finished up his presentation with a reverse Q&A, asking us about our experiences in China so far.
We were then treated to a gracious lunch and even took a great group picture with our CSOM flag.
We took a short break inside of a large mall, and then made our way to a Marriott Hotel to meet with a FinTech Project Manager from Tencent. She met with us in small groups and gave a basic overview of her work and then opened it up for Q&A. She offered a lot of insights about her work life, the development of WeChat Pay in Malaysia and Hong Kong, and helpful advice for our professional careers moving forward.
Day 12 started with an extravagant breakfast at the Hyatt Place in Shenzhen!! During breakfast Steve told members of the class that Alibaba is rolling out the red carpet for us!! Many students were very excited to hear this. Steve also mentioned a VP at Ant Financial, a financial subsidiary of Alibaba, would be speaking to us! Ant Financial’s primary product is the app Alipay. This app offers many crucial financial services free of charge. Ant Financial is also the 4th largest bank in the world, depending on the criteria in which you measure.
After breakfast many students were very ecstatic to visit one of the largest companies in the world. Alibaba has the 5th largest GDP in the world!! During the bus ride students’ excitement could hardly be contained. Once we battled through the heavy rain and made it inside we were very surprised at the scale of Alibaba’s Shenzhen office. Different varieties of the mascot could be seen scattered throughout, and the office was very modern focused.
The presentation was very informative and the breath of information provided was impressive. We learned that Alibaba and Ant Financial are at the forefront of technology, and they strive to make it easy to do business everywhere. They also stated that Ant Financial’s goal is to allow everyone to be on an even playing field for financial service offerings, and this will allow for new innovations to be derived. Questions were very numerous and the speakers generously granted us more time to ensure we had all the information we needed.
After Alibaba we went to Hema, Alibaba’s smart retail grocery store. This store was very high tech and we were surprised to see a delivery conveyor belt near the store’s ceiling. Hema provides many fresh foods to customers, and also offers a restaurant for those trying to get a quick bite. Overall, it was a great experience.
We hopped on the trusty bus for our next stop Nio!!! The staff gave us a tour of their showroom and showed us their standard SUV offerings. At the showroom they also had the Nio EP9 which costs $1.9 million and set the world record for the fastest autonomous vehicle. We then took a short tour off the Nio house. This is an area for car owners to come and hang out! Nio also offers fun activities for kids like Joycamp!
After Nio we headed back to the hotel. Some students went to try hot pot for the first time, and stated it was an out of this world experience!! Once dinner was complete, students headed back and hit the hay for another exciting day!!
After our busy day yesterday, Sunday (Day 11) ended up being a free day for us to do whatever we wanted. Some of us chose to explore the area surrounding our hotel. It was amazing how much there was to do in such a short range of where we were. There were a plethora of stores and restaurants on every road. In particular, there were multiple popular brand stores like Nike all within the same area, which made it easy to shop around. Some of us decided to get street food for lunch at a nearby vendor, which ended up being very delicious. Afterwards, we traveled to the technology market. The market had a wide variety of tech goods and they were all surprisingly cheap. In the afternoon, people tried to group up for dinner. Some people ended up grabbing street food again, while others looked for more differentiated food like burgers. Overall, it was a very relaxing day, and a nice respite from our busy schedules.
Our first full day in Shenzhen started with a site visit to DJI. Upon arrival to DJI we were able to look around their showroom at a variety of their newest models of drones and cameras. Shortly after exploration of their showroom, we were shown a presentation which dived deeper into the types of drone and camera products that DJI deploys. One grouping of camera products is called Osmo, which are cameras used for selfies. The drone products were broken down into 3 groups (Commercial, Professional, & Enterprise). The Commercial drones can be easily used by any consumer, while the Professional & Enterprise drones have more specific use cases. For example, the Professional drones can be used for high quality photography and filmography with 4k resolution. One example of an enterprise drone that we were shown was the MG-1S. This drone is specifically designed for agricultural purposes as it deploys water to large areas of crops.
Once we gained a base understanding of the type of drones, we were able to
see them used. One drone was connected to a VR set which we could view, and
another was able to be flown using hand signals. DJI had incredibly innovative
products that they were more than happy to share with us.
After DJI, we then went on a city tour with our wonderful guide Eric. He brought us to the Shenzhen Museum of History, Lychee Park, Meridian View Center, and the Shenzhen light show. The museum covered a variety of different topics from war and politics to architecture and literature. Lychee Park was a gorgeous park that featured many activities for children as well as dancing groups for adults of all ages. We then visited the Meridian View Center located on the 69th floor of the Diwang Commercial Center, which allowed us to get a bird’s eye view of the entire city. Lastly, we finished up with an amazing light show that runs every night. It was fascinating to see the buildings come to life.
Our last morning in Guangzhou was very lax; Anne announced we pushed back our departure time to Shenzhen to 1:00 PM so we were able to sleep in :). Everyone in the group took the morning to recharge in different ways; a couple from our group took some time to have alone time and recharge while others explored the local street markets.
The bus ride to Shenzhen took about 3 hours in total, as we drove through the Guangzhou suburbs and nearby by Dongguan (where we did the Carlisle tour) to get to the futuristic city of Shenzhen. Once in Shenzhen, we had the night to explore the city!
Most people from the group walked to the local mall area to grab food. Similar to Guangzhou, right outside our hotel is a street market/mall area. Except the mall area in Shenzhen is much more modern. Shenzhen in general is very modern. Similarly to Hong Kong, Shenzhen feels like you’ve stepped into the future; the architecture and infrastructure in both cities is astonishing and very well-planned. We are all excited to explore more of Shenzhen and meet with businesses operating in Shenzhen!
Day 7 started with a visit to a store of the future: Yoorstore. Yoorstore’s mission is to create a seamless store with cashier-less checkout process while providing a large array of fresh goods for purchase. At the same time, Yoorstore’s focus was on pushing their customers to make their purchases online, completely bypassing the need to visit the store in the first place. The real strength of Yoorstore is their innovative supply chain, which allows them to stock their shelves with fresh produce from local farms and markets each morning.
In the afternoon, we went and toured Guangzhou’s ancient city Sha Wan, which was founded over 800 years ago. It was an awe inspiring experience to walk through buildings so old that pre-dated the discovery of America. In addition to touring buildings, we also had the opportunity to taste the local cuisine. Some of our favorite dishes were crispy skin pork, fried rice, and a desert local to the region named ginger milk.
That evening we took cooking lessons with a highly qualified team of local chefs. Their resumes included being the head chef of a five star hotel, cooking for the president of China, and having won a number of Asian culinary competitions. Together they taught us how to make Three Cup Chicken, Sweet Sour Pork, and Seafood Fried Rice. After preparing our dishes, we sat down, ate our amazing food, and digested all that we had learned during our two days in Guangzhou.
Since Hong Kong was our first stop in this program, leaving was a bitter sweet moment. Bitter because of the sense of familiarity with the city and its people after only a few days, but sweet because of the opportunity to explore someplace new.
The train ride was about an hour and 20 minutes. It was mostly time to catch up on some sleep but for some it was a time to reflect back on the trip thus far. The funny thing about this train ride wasn’t just the bathroom but once we arrived at our location, all 31 of us had about 3 minutes to grab our luggage and hurry off the train. We then went through customs and left the station. Walking outside was a completely different atmosphere than in Hong Kong. Smaller buildings, significantly fewer tourists, and it felt as if all eyes were on us.
After a very short lunch we headed to our factory tour of Carlisie, specifically focusing on medical and aerospace technologies. We sadly couldn’t take any pictures, however, just being there and taking in all the knowledge was worth it. We got a chance to learn a bit more about their company and how much of a focus they are putting on Lean production in order to improve quality and efficiency. CMT has 4000 labor workers compared to CIT’s about 600, but is projected to decrease their labor force in the near future to become more automatic. Calvin and Ryan both mentioned that in order for this to truly work and be efficient, they need to work on implementing design into the machines doing the automation.
After our tour we got on our bus and finally began our journey to Guangzhou. There was so much greenery on the way there that was a type of beauty we didn’t get to see in Hong Kong.
In all, we as a group are really looking forward to experiencing Guangzhou, even if only for a day. Since it is our first stop in mainland China, we can’t wait to compare and contrast the two places and learn as much as possible.
Day 6 started with a trip to Arrow Open Lab in the the Science Park in Hong Kong. We got a great presentation from one of the engineers in the lab about what Arrow actually does, and we had a chance to walk around for awhile and get a closer look at some of the technologies that they have developed. It was awesome to get a closer look at some of the technologies that we’ll be using in the future!
After arrow, we stopped at a nearby restaurant for a big group lunch, and then moved on to the Chinese University of Hong Kong. There, we received a lecture from a professor that has a focus of developing IoT technologies. We learned about some projects that a few of his students had developed, and had the opportunity to meet some of the students and get a tour around the campus. We toured an exhibition of the history of the university, as well as an art gallery with some amazing Chinese painting.
After the site visits, a few of us went to go see the Nan Lian gardens and the Chi Lin Nunnery. We walked around for awhile and took in the amazing views. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to get a good nights rest for the coming travel day. All in all it was a great day!