Day three in Beijing was one that everyone had been looking forward to for one reason: the Huawei visit. Immediately upon arriving at their facility, everyone was awestruck by the sheer grandeur of it all. The giant chandelier and rug worthy of a palace that greeted us when we first walked in were just the beginning of the wonders that were to follow. The campus that we visited is home to about 10,000 engineers all working on research and development, but we, understandably, didn’t get to see that. Instead, we were given a tour that put Huawei’s different business segments and products on display. Right away, we passed by a huge screen with 16k technology. We all agreed that the waterfall scene being displayed looked better than real life. As we continued on, we entered a room that looked like it came straight out of a sci-fi movie.
Our guide took us around to different displays, talking about Huawei’s work in 5G, AI, facial recognition, cloud technology, and smartphones. When we came to the phone display, everyone was impressed by the quality as compared to Apple and Samsung especially given that almost all of their models are cheaper. Eventually the tour came to an end and we were led into yet another jaw-dropping room set up in a way that you might expect to find at a world leaders’ summit.
Our host then went into a presentation on more of the business side of the company, which I was certainly able to better understand than the tech part. After she finished, we sipped on tea and coffee while firing off question after question until we finally had to be cut off. As we prepared to depart, we made one last stop: the bathroom. It was definitely on par with the rest of what we had seen. I didn’t even get around to using the bathroom because I was too busy taking pictures and using the hair gel, lotion, and mouthwash provided.
After leaving Huawei, we headed to our next company visit of the day, VIP Kid, an education/tech company that brands itself as the sort of Uber for teachers. It is an online English tutoring service for children that pairs up Chinese students with American or Canadian teachers. After Huawei, I didn’t have the highest expectations for this visit, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it very interesting. The business model is pretty ingenious since the demand for qualified teachers in China is incredibly high with a significant proportion of parents willing to spend over 50% of household income on extra tutoring. This combined with the fact that teachers are underpaid and looking to supplement their income in America has driven the company’s success. Since their founding in 2013, VIP Kid has grown to serve over 500,000 students and works with more than 60,000 teachers. Their rapid growth has earned them the attention of the media and high profile investors as well as recognition in the form of awards, including Forbes Most Innovative in China 2018. Overall, I was very impressed with the company, and I think everyone else was too, since our question and answer session lasted longer than most I’ve been apart of in the past. Later in the evening, we took a trip to the Olympic Park by subway. I was expecting a lot worse conditions on the train, but was surprised to find everything very simple, clean, and relatively uncrowded. The park itself was cool to see, even though it wasn’t necessarily the most exciting. Regardless, it was a very pleasant evening to walk around and take some pictures (and have random people take pictures of us of course).