From the land of fairy tales, a tale of success in China
Updated: 2012-01-06 10:54
By Liu Lu (China Daily European Edition)
Jens Henne Hansen, founder of the website design company imangu.com, says his business future lies in China. [Provided to China Daily]
Website designer has extended its horizons beyond Denmark
When Jens Henne Hansen first traveled to China in 1984, at the age of seven, he was enthralled by a land full of mystery and excitement.
But the Danish boy could hardly have suspected that one day it would be here that his entrepreneurial dreams would take off.
Six years after moving to Beijing, Hansen, now 34, is the owner of imangu.com, one of the three biggest website design companies in Beijing. It specializes in making online newspapers, web shops, auction sites and social networking sites, and most of its orders come from Europe.
But, impressed by China's robust economic growth, Hansen believes his business future lies in China.
"Right now Europe is not on the right track, but China is growing. My focus will be in China."
Hansen wants to expand his business presence in China by gaining more Chinese customers with what he considers to be his company's superior product and service.
"Even though people may say Chinese don't want the quality people expect in Europe, I am pretty sure in the very near future they will want that."
Until last year imangu.com, founded in 2008, provided services exclusively for customers in Denmark.
Hansen reckons his company is the first Danish software outsourcing company based in China. The business was born of a desire to offer attractive but inexpensive products to customers in his home country.
"At that time there were Danish people operating such companies in Thailand, India and (the) Philippines, but not in China. I chose China because (its) educational level is higher, especially for software technicians and engineers, and China also has the advantage of a relatively cheap workforce."
The company says its sales have been more than doubling each year, and the company's Chinese staff has swelled from only two in the initial stages to more than 40 now.
"We had built our reputation by building websites for many big (Danish) newspapers, and more and more big companies in Denmark are coming to us," Hansen says.
He says the lower prices his rivals in Southeast Asia offer do not bother him because he is confident imangu.com delivers better quality.
"As (salaries) in China (rise), we cannot compete on price any more, because Vietnam can be cheaper. The only thing we can do is to make sure our quality is very good. If the quality is very good, customers are willing to pay higher prices, and we are not competing any more."
For Hansen, winning a price war is also not the key to gaining an enduring foothold in an ever-changing market.
"We (got) into the market by being cheap and efficient, but now we have the experience and brand, so we are competing on quality instead. We want to prove to customers that the quality they get from us is worth the money they spend."
Hansen says the rapidly growing Chinese market has stimulated imangu.com, which had relied solely on orders from Denmark, to shift its focus to China.
"I think in the next two or three years our sales in China may outperform (those of) Denmark."
To win over more Chinese clients, Hansen is hiring more sales people in China.
He says the customers imangu.com is targeting in China are big businesses and foreign companies. His first project in China was to build the website for the office of the Danish Foreign Ministry in Shanghai.
Hansen is well aware that if foreign entrepreneurs want to achieve business success in China it is vital that they are conversant with the Chinese mentality and the country's business practices.
"Because you are selling to Chinese, you cannot do it the same way (as) in Denmark. You have to understand the needs of Chinese customers.
"You have to give the clients something that they cannot get somewhere else. Our advantage is that we can make highly advanced websites with very modern graphic design. This is the edge we are going to use in China.
"I can feel Chinese customers require high quality, but I am sure in the future it will be even higher."
To ensure quality, every new recruit at imangu.com is given at least three to six weeks' intensive training by the company's senior programmers and project managers. Besides, imangu.com's staff track feedback from customers to check if they are happy with what they get.
Hansen says that even if the plan is to stay in China, some day the company may relocate out of downtown Beijing because of rising labor costs.
"I might some day move to the outskirts of Beijing or a smaller city in China due to the cost rise. But I don't want to move out of China because (it) is the place where you can get some good employees and a team that can deliver very good quality."
He could not be more bullish about imangu.com's business prospects here. "If you meet me in two years we will be twice or three times bigger."