Global From Asia
E-Commerce Entrepreneur Interview TV Show
Episode 03: To Create the Soul of a Product, One Must Be Born for It, Leo Liu, Founder of Ennoplus
About the guest
Leo, Founder of Ennoplus
Leo Liu entered the business in 2006, their earliest product is Solar Fountain. Naturally, they want to provide sellers with the strongest protection we can so that they feel safe investing in their products.
People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Show Length: 25:05
Ok thank you everybody for tuning in.
We’re at the Global From Aisa Cross Boarder E-Commerce series.
We’re here in Shenzhen China.
Today we’re at Innoplus- it’s a solar light factory-and we have with us the co-founder Leo.
Leo thank you for coming.
Hi everyone I am Leo Liu, the co-founder of Innoplus.
Our company has its principal business in outdoor solar lighting.
So how did this start?
I heard it was 10 years ago you started this. What’s the story?
We started the current venture in 2015 but in fact we have been in the solar business for 10 years now
We have done many products, such as outdoor sports, solar fountain and LED lighting
However during this 8 to 10 years we found that we had not accumulated too much useful experience
that would help us deliver great products.
So we decided in 2015 that we would create a company with a real vision
I think making a product is more than making something for sale.
The main thing is to make something that you can pour all your dreams and interest in.
and it ends up helping its users
That’s why we created Innoplus
Our goal is to make a congregation of all the creative talent
take the vision in those talented minds for products
and make them into real products
Ultimately this will let all the overseas customers, be it American or Japanese
use our products
Feel its usability and practicality
We hope to create products that are good value and both price and usage
This is our vision
We hope to turn everyone’s dreams into reality
and benefit the end users on the way with good products
Our company has so far invented a lot of new user experience
Some of our products are quite well received by the customers
We think we have completed the first step of this entrepreneurship project
Innoplus in actually a re-imagining from zero for us
A refreshed perspective
made in China
I hope to make more people recognize our Made in China
Let them know that China can make very good products too
Not just Korea Japan or Hong Kong
China is also one of the finest
That’s the story but what would you say is some of the experience that you and your team of co-founders have when you started
I entered the business in 2006
Our earliest product is solar fountain
In the beginning I was working for another company
There were only two people when I joined
The initial intent was to do 2.4G wireless transmission
like the audio devices that we see nowadays
We worked together for a little more than a month
It was in a residential area
There was a solar panel and a pump on the terrace
I saw this contraption that used solar power to make a fountain go
and thought this to be a great idea
a very good product
I asked my boss
“Where did this come from and how does it work”
He told me that this was made by a Thai to beautify their garden
I asked why the product was not continued
He told me that there was simply too few orders
so I took a number of photos of the product
and a self-made video that shows how you would operate a solar pump
And I uploaded it to 1688.com which was the hot thing back in 2006
About 15 days after that
Many clients contacted me, expressing interest to sell this product overseas
I thought it was great
I built a batch of the thing completely by hand
about 200 of them and sent them out
After that big sale, about 3 months later
I consulted with my clients
and asked them where they sold the product to
Domestic or overseas？
They said they sold it on this thing called eBay
That’s how I got to know the first E-commerce businesses back in 2006
Those who started on eBay at the very dawn of E-commerce
As the product sold more and more
Some clients brought their requests to us
asking if we could make other things with solar power
Apparently environmental protection was big overseas
and they hope this ideal of a clean environment would propagate
They asked me if I could apply solar power to lighting or household power generation
so we began to try to make these things
The technology we had was only enough to make fountains
I left that company in 2007
because I felt that I could bring out the product potential more on my own
My ex-boss thought that the only thing that mattered was making money
but I felt that products should change and improve constantly
So I left my original company in 2007
and registered a company of my own called Guangyu Tech
The name was just for a name’s sake
The point was to make hand-made products by myself
Like if someone says he wanted solar power generation, I would make a solar charger
If it was lighting I would make a solar light
Some said they wanted a fountain that could float on the water
So I made the prototype floating fountain that’s selling best now on eBay and Amazon
The design began there
Some foreigners liked to fish
but If the fish is put in the barrel too long it could die.
So I developed a solar oxygenation pump
From my very first venture in 2007 till now.
I have never stopped developing the product.
I think solar power is amazing.
It’s a new energy that’s very friendly to the environment
and it brings convenience to many.
You can have power as long as you have sunlight. It could be stored in batteries.
All your favourite electronics suddenly become more convenient to carry around
Of course there were difficulties, too.
We had many failures, like the time when we received massive volume of complaints
telling us that our tech is not complete
Made in China product no good and so forth
but through extended development, improvement, upgrades, innovation, and stabilization
I am confident that our product have no significant problem anymore.
Even if you do find faults it’s with very low probabilities
At least our customers approval rating is now satisfactory.
In 2015, I was being well along with my partner on this venture
I thought only having a single product on the roster is too boring
I was still just a seller.
The basic business model was still simple retail
while I thought that true products should have the soul of their creator
A product with a soul
is more than just a compilation of metals sand plastics.
It is about looking at a need of daily life
and solving the problem with our product in a truly unique way.
It has to have good aesthetics and good function
satisfy the desires of the users.
We also think the price should be accessible to all
in order to spread solar power to all families, conserve energy resources
which is becoming crucial in this day and age when we can really see an end to our energy wealth
We hope that renewable energy would be more common
and break the perception that it could only work on a big solar farm
It can be used by every family, every person, right down to the kids.
Let them one day suddenly realize that “the light in the house is power by the sun”
“nothing else is needed”
“We only need the sun”
I hope our light spread in both physical and metaphorical ways to every family
Let everyone know that their outdoor could be brighter
and their nights safer.
OK great answer.
It kind leads into my next question
You’ve listened to your market
You listen to the sellers on Amazon and eBay,
And you build your own brand,
How do you choose the direction of your business and products, your R&D, your development?
Our product line now is essential just outdoor solar light fixtures
placed on walls , about 1 to 1.5 meters
However, we now have many new customer requests
that led to us dividing the products into layers
from the lawn and road at the bottom layer
to the stairs and fences
to the walls and the door light
and then to the roof.
So we now divide the products into specialized layers.
For example we have solar wall lights, solar door lights, solar roof lights
and solar lawn lights.
This is the new theme of our marketing.
We hope to section a household, give it more variety
and have a light at every point that one is needed,
bring lighting to roads, colours to gardens and walls
and the sun to every path we walk
The whole environment
Give it a sense of safety and lived-in feeling.
Our safety lights are mainly used in stairways and corridors,
Roof lighting is for cars.
When the house owner drives home, there will be a light at the garage to illuminate.
When he takes out the key at the door there is a light to help him see.
Everything is designed for ease and convenience.
That’s our current direction for development.
We also rolled out some new looks
but more of the functionalities are still in development.
Going back to our business models
One is call “Customized Development”
where a user brings to us an idea of the product he needs.
We will then use a decade of experience to make it happen
Give him what he wants.
The second is selling a planned catalogue of products by Amazon sellers
A good example of that would be the Enpore brand on Amazon
This is one of our major strategic partners.
They use their own brand on Amazon but the products are of our making
This has produced good results so far.
We are fairly high-rank on Amazon.
Our product optimization cycle is about 16 months.
Meaning, 16 months after a product enters the market, we will come up with the next gen version for it
because we aim to provide users with better, more friendly product each year.
The process actually resembles human evolution
with its constant improvement and upgrades.
The end user will feel this improvement
and the distance between him and the product will be shortened.
It does exactly what he wants
as if the catering is intelligent.
You are 3 to 5 meters from your door
a light gets lit up above your head.
You can now take out your key and open the door
feeling very welcome in your own house.
All the stress from work, instantly relieved.
Both of our business model
can technically be classified as customization.
One is customization by the request of the end user.
The other is a complete product line
customized for the different countries and regions.
The later takes into consideration what a light in a certain environment should do, its functions and brightness
in order to accommodate the local user.
We’ve talked a lot of business today
How about your hobbies, for fun?
While I do have many hobbies, they all have something to do with products
I think all things can be viewed as products
I like modification of cars for drifting
This is a childhood dream.
I felt when I was a kid that cars are meant to slide across the road.
The normal way of driving is too boring.
Cars should drift around corners.
This dream is carried all the way until today.
My wife told me that I am too old for that dangerous stuff
but I think danger is a part of manhood.
I like modding cars
but now I have a family so I can’t get too overboard with that
Chinese laws don’t give much room for auto modification either
But I am still hoping that I could have one made to my designs one day
regardless whether it would be permitted to go on the road.
So my first love is still product.
I like the creative merchandises you have overseas.
The masterminds really bring their ideas to bear
regardless of the commercial viability.
I think these people are dreamers
and who try to bring their dreams into the real world.
I feel that it is an art to focus on a product, a workmanship spirit.
I think the basic principle behind a product cannot be how much money you would make from it,
It needs a soul
That’s the only way it can woo others, make them think it’s as cool as you think it is
Sometimes my wife says I’m on the 60s.
She thinks I have no life
when in fact the way I have a life is to make good products.
The constant innovation and creativity
That’s what I enjoy most.
If I find a website where everybody is conversing about how to realize their ideas,
I could spend the whole night on it.
It makes me feel good.
I would start to think “could I do it if it was me?”
“How would I have done it?”
I think this is a challenge that one must undertake.
Set some standards into your professional life
Not just saying that my profession is to sell you stuff and take your money.
I feel that’s not how it is meant to be
It’s process is requiring excellence from yourself,
from your products.
Lean to look at products from different angles.
Don’t take the creation process for granted
and bring your passions and desires into the things you make.
Complete the task using your own thoughts and experience.
Product is now more than a merchandise.
So in short my hobby is my product.
It is all that I am.
Even my name card read: Born For Products.
That is my dream
In our company everyone has a different name card line
And mine is about my products.
Very interesting talk today.
For the international audience, people watching today, what kind of people would you like to meet?
Our current clients are all Amazon sellers
and there are not many of them.
The number is few because we choose customization as our business.
We hope that all our Amazon sellers share our passion for quality
and use the platform to vertically develop the product, make it deeper
Not just taking products from us
and selling them on Amazon
to whoever that is willing to pay.
Our need is in sellers who could understand that
We build a product line
Customized for different countries and area
to meet the lighting requirements for every family
I hope our sellers could specialize,
Understand that a product is in a line of products
and get away from the simple retail of a single merchandise
I feel that everyone’s vision must be align for it to be truly accomplished.
Not all things can be accomplished by having a dream
but a dream is actually your pursuit for the product
It is your soul in the product.
So I hope no matter it’s in America or Japan
Selling from different countries and investigate their local needs more
and help us make our product more complete
bring more users closer to our craft
There are culture difference between our country and the rest of the world
different circumstances for living
So I hope sellers could bring in more information to help us understand that difference
about the facts of life overseas.
This could be great help to our product development.
For sellers, we don’t need many
but we hope to find those who are willing to specialize and ask of the products as much as we do
It’s the only way to better the products
It needs tuning after tuning, not short-sighted busy work.
Alright now for our next segment we have a couple follow-up questions for Leo.
Great interview, thank you.
My question I think a lot of people always worry or wonder
How do you get the investment or the money to start the business?
So far, our capital has come from the profit of our product sales.
We bring those back into R&D.
Currently we only have two stakeholders in the company
I am one and Zhang Weibo is the other.
Because of that
we had no trouble bringing back the profit from our latest innovation
and putting it back into the business.
We didn’t take it all for ourselves
at least not personal gains.
Our profit goes straight into product development
So the funds for R&D
is sufficient at the moment.
This way of total investment in the product
has its own reward.
As long as the things you come up with at the end are good,
The risk factor is actually not that big.
So overall our company
is fairly competitive in the market.
My second question is
You have your own brand
It’s great that you talked about made in China, innovation.
Did you register a trademark?
Where did you register and how did you develop it?
So far our product mainly used rebranding.
The brands of products are generally our sellers
We do have our own Innoplus trademark
and we do offer intellectual property protection to all our sellers.
We now possess IP patent in the US, Europe, Japan and China.
Basically four major regions.
We apply for patents during the concept drawing stage with ID (InDesign).
When the ID draft is finished there will be a second application,
Then a third when the finished product is prototyped
So one product will have multiple patents attached to it
because it changes during development
and we apply for a patent each time it does
This way we expand the sphere of protection of the patent
make the protection more thorough
Damage of imitation can be minimized
I am talking about some unauthorized copies of our product being sold on Amazon
It is highly damaging to our sellers
Naturally we want to provide sellers with the strongest protection we can
so that they feel safe investing in our products
OK great thanks so much