Former Google employees find success with own company in Beijing

Updated: 2015-08-21 16:22

By Yan Dongjie(

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Jeremy Zhou quit his job at Google in the US in 2008 with a vision to start his own IT company in China. Last year, with some bumps in the road, that vision became a reality. Today, with two other former Google staffers at his side, Zhou is basking in triumph.

Jide Tech, the company Zhou founded along with partners David Gao and Ben Lu, is well on the road to success. The Beijing-based company currently has more than 100 employees, a product in a mini PC – the Remix Mini – that runs on Google's Android operating system, and nearly 19,000 financial backers who have offered a total of $1.4 million on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to bring their PC to market.

Zhou, who serves as CEO of Jide, claims it's the largest amount of money a Chinese company has ever raised on Kickstarter, the world's largest crowd-funding platform.

"Only one out of every 2,000 projects on Kickstarter raises more than $1 million, and no company from the Asia-Pacific region has ever achieved that. We did it," said Zhou.

Zhou, Gao, and Lu started Jide Tech in Beijing in early 2014, after the three quit Google. Jide develops computer systems and electric products.

Zhou is proud of Remix Mini, which is scheduled to hit the market in October at a cost of $30. With the palm-sized PC people will be able to access the Internet and do routine tasks, such as send emails and watch videos.

After nine years at Google, he followed his dream. When Zhou joined Google in 2000, he became the first Chinese staff at the US-based tech giant, and its first Internet engineer, when Google was a company in its infancy with about 100 employees.

"It was just like Jide now," said Zhou.

Zhou, as well as Gao and Lu, who served Google for almost 10 years, all assumed important roles at Google, with positions IT people envy. But the three young men didn't hesitate to quit when they learned that China was a new market in which they could start their own IT business.

"We left Google, and I'm sure that was a big loss for them but not for us," said Lu, who added that the experience in the US was extremely helpful on their path to starting Jide.

"I can't conclude to say how, but it influenced us in every aspect," Lu said. "Besides the techniques that we mastered, the most important thing we learned is the dedication and attitude. We know that to be dedicated is essential if you want to have your own business,." Lu said.

Zhou and his partners saw companies start and soon close. They learned that all the successful ones have one thing in common, and that is the dedication of the people involved.

"You have to know what you are doing and believe what you decide to do will be a success some day," Zhou said. "So that you have an aim to fight for, no matter what obstacles and difficulties come out."

Success doesn't come easy. With greater freedom comes greater responsibility. The three co-founders all said that managing an enterprise is very different from working for a big company.

"When your decision proves to be wrong, if you work for a big company, the loss can be covered in several months with slight adjustments," said Gao. "But in your own company, once a wrong decision is made, the company might shut down in half a year, and your 100 employees will lose their jobs. That is not a joke."

The three men admitted that they struggle from the pressure of running the company.

"I never dreamed of work when I was at Google," Lu said. "Now stuff about my company come into my dreams every night." He said he now sleeps no more than six hours a night.

"Once, the toilet in the office got stuck. I had to put my hands in it," Zhou recalled about the early days of the company. "Everything in this company is our responsibility. When the toilet is broken, you need to go fix it yourself, and that is also one aspect of starting a business."

The trio said they are all very confident about the future of startups and the IT industry in general.

"The IT industry in China is predicted to continue to flourish for another 15 to 30 years as more talent floods in and users demand more," Zhou said.

However, Zhou also expressed his worries about China's IT industry, saying that it has been following and even copying.

"The US invents something, and China takes it, or maybe with some slight adjustment," said Zhou. "But now the number of Chinese Internet users has surpassed that of America. We should also build the confidence to develop things that the US has not."

Zhao Xuejie contributed to this story.

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