Li Xuanjin, founder of Lady Link. [cnwomen.com.cn]
Li Xuanjin, a former investment bank analyst from Beijing, has come up with many innovative entrepreneurial ideas which have led her on the path to success during the past two years.
Becoming Female 'Do-er'
After her graduation from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Li found her first job as an analyst at BDA China, a famous investment bank headquartered in Wall Street.
BDA China, located at Guomao, or China World Trade Center, the central business and commercial district of Beijing, which also serves as the workplace of many of the city's female high-flyers. To offer them a communication platform, in August 2013, Li, together with several of her colleagues, registered a public account called Guomao Lady on the popular social media app WeChat. The account received over 1,000 followers within a couple of months.
The group has one rule: all posts should be original. "We turn what we think into words and share with each other," Li explained.
As the popularity of the account continued to grow, more and more brands wanted to take it as a promotion platform for their products, and they contacted Li to negotiate cooperation.
Kicking off Road to Entrepreneurship
In early 2014, Li quit her job and turned to a financial media firm. During that period, a wave of popular entrepreneurship and innovation swept over China. Inspired, Li began to think about starting her own business.
In addition, Li noticed a commercial opportunity. "At that time, original spirits were not acknowledged adequately. Some original brands had difficulties attracting investment and finding promotional channels, which generates great demand for activities which could help them find target customers and gain customer experience," Li said. Therefore, Li resigned again six months later and established Lady Link, a women's community.
In July 2014, Li organized a wine party called Science and Technology Walk into Women's Life, attracting 150 office ladies. At the party, Lady Link came into being.
Li introduced to the party three high-tech products – an intelligent lamp, a smart bracelet and intelligent humidifier – which she thought were all closely related to women's life. The debut activity made a profit, a pleasant surprise to Li and the other two founders.
"Bringing high-quality life to ladies is how we position Lady Link," Li said.
When asked about the difference between Lady Link and other women's communities, Li responded, "We focus more on the experience of offline activities. Besides, every event we held has its own shining points. We have achieved accurate positioning, quality service and innovation in a real sense."
During the past two years, Li has organized over 50 offline activities and established partnership with more than 100 brands.
At present, Lady Link mainly focuses on helping original brands extend promotion channels and gain investment.
Except for charity activities, almost every event has earned money, which strengthened her confidence.
"Activities themselves are products. We try our best to ensure each event reaches as many people as possible," she said.
Setting Foot in Vertical E-Commerce
Having gained rich experience and a large number of users, Li made a crucial decision – making a transformation and engaging in fashion e-commerce. She by chance took part in the program of SHOPit, an app to search for fashion products, and became a partner. From then on, she started business in vertical e-commerce in fashion, with clothes being her main products.
"Advertising is the only way to make a profit for a pure community, while e-commerce has more choice," she divulged.
In September 2016, she got substantial investment from Pre Angel, an investment company which provides guidance to entrepreneurs.
As for how to stand out from numerous fashion apps, Li said that model innovation is the point, and advocated a mode which combines app, community and fund-raising together.
When talking about the collapse of a group of "offline-to-online" and other firms in recent days, Li believes that China has entered a cooling-off period for entrepreneurship. "We should think more and find a suitable profit model for ourselves. This is important to entrepreneurs," she concluded.
(Source: paper.cnwomen.com.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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