Uygur entrepreneur vies for slice of the cake

Updated: 2015-05-04 09:29

By MENG JING(China Daily)

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Uygur entrepreneur vies for slice of the cake

Adil Mamattura, the 24-yearold chairman of the board of Hunan Mengxiang Qihang E-commerce Co Ltd, works together with his colleagues in a warehouse. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY.

It was only nine months after his own college graduation ceremony that Adil Mamattura showed up at a job fair at Tsinghua University in Beijing, trying to recruit some of China's best graduates for his startup firm.

The 24-year-old Uygur employer, who passed flyers to potential employees, is the chairman of the board of Hunan Mengxiang Qihang E-commerce Co Ltd.

Compared with the salaries and perks off ered by the other 220 companies at the job fair in Beijing, what the Hunan province-based startup offered was not that lucrative to college students in China's capital city. But Mamattura said the key was to sell "the dream of building a listed company from the scratch" to potential employees.

"Making this company go public is not my sole goal. What I truly want is to make Xinjiang qiegao into 'China's Snickers' to make more people fall in love with the local snack from my hometown," said Mamattura, who is from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Xinjiang qiegao, also known as Xinjiang nut cake, is a mixture of nuts, sweets and glutinous rice. As a traditional Xinjiang street snack, qiegao is usually sold by Uygurs riding tricycles.

Mamattura was passed the skills to make qiegao from his father when he was a young boy, but the machinery major student from Changsha University of Science and Technology never had the idea of making a living out of the sweet snack until a piece of news went viral in December 2012.

A miscommunication between a customer and a qiegao seller eventually led to a huge fight on the street. In the end, the buyer was asked to pay as much as 160,000 yuan ($25,750) for damaging the whole piece of qiegao. "The incident was not only bad for qiegao but also for the reputation of Uygur people," said Mamattura.

He then came up with an idea. Why not sell the local snack online to allow more people to buy the delicious nut cake at a clear and fixed price? Two of Mamattura's college friends were immediately intrigued and jumped on board with an investment of 10,000 yuan each.

The three young men tested the waters online on Taobao and received a good response from the market. After graduating from college last summer, the three partners offcially set up a company to run a qiegao e-commerce business, setting up their own factory and producing qiegao.

Sales from their online shop surged in the autumn after A Bite of China, a famous Chinese TV food documentary, featured qiegao in one episode. According to Mamattura, the company has been profitable since 2014 and had sales of 30 million yuan in the second half of 2014. "Without the Internet, I would never have built up a business as big as the one I have today," he said, adding that his firm has 120 employees.

"We want to add another 100 by the end of this year because we have ambitious plan to signifi cantly boost our sales to 200 million yuan in 2015," he added.

Amid fierce competition from mimickers who sell also qiegao online, his company has adopted an aggressive plan to boost production capacity, open more virtual shops and sell tailor-made qiegao, such as heart-shape ones, to boost sales.

Only 11 students at the job fair at Tsinghua submitted their resume to Mamattura's e-commerce firm. One job hunter said he was not going to apply for a position at the start-up firm because the company was too young.

"There is a great possibilitythat the company may fail soon," said the 22-year-old male student, who wanted to remain anonymous.

But Cao Kai, who joined Mamattura's company right after he graduated from college last year, holds the opposite view. "Losing or winning is not a big deal for us. What matters most is to build something together with those who share your beliefs," he said.