By David Rowan for the Wired.co.uk
At the IngDan Experience Center, in the Geosciences Research Centre in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District, you can play with smart diapers, the USENSE badminton swing sensor and Coolpeds motorised luggage.You can’t actually buy them here: founder Jeffrey Kang says it’s about spreading the word. IngDan, he explains, is “the next Alibaba — bringing Chinese manufacturing capability to anywhere in the world”. How? By uniting every stakeholder in the internet-of-things (IoT) economy.
“The next Alibaba — bringing Chinese manufacturing capability to anywhere in the world”
Jeffrey Kang, IngDan
IngDan, Kang’s 200-person company, calls itself an IoT innovation platform. With its website, apps and physical “experience stores” from Beijing to Tel Aviv, this year it expects to connect 15,000 IoT businesses with 6,000 suppliers and 15 million “fans”. Kang calls it a “B2B2C model”: through IngDan, startups and established manufacturers can meet component suppliers and customers, with IngDan serving as matchmaker, design consultant, fablab enabler and general adviser.
“We’ve developed an ecosystem not just for suppliers, but are bringing all the Chinese internet companies onboard — JD, Taobao, Baidu,” explains Kang, 46. “We’re the one-stop shop to serve IoT entrepreneurs. If Xiaomi is building a closed loop like iOS, we’re the Android. Though Xiaomi is also our customer and partner.”
IngDan launched a showroom in San Francisco last December as part of a $35m US investment. It’s 70 per cent owned by Kang’s other business, Cogobuy Group, a Hong-Kong listed company that operates China’s largest manufacturing supply chain platform.
“It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur here,” Kang says. “There’s money, we have the ecosystem, and the Chinese government is driving innovation.”
In the past, he adds, “Silicon Valley was the innovation driver. But now, it’s joined by Shenzhen. We talk of Shenzhen Valley. We’re bringing Shenzhen to everywhere.”
This article was first published in the April 2016 issue of WIRED magazine.