I woke up to my alarm this morning, a sign that I had hopefully overcome jetlag. Today was a big day! We were visiting Huawei and VIPkid, our first two company visits. I was particularly excited to visit Huawei, as they have rapidly improved their technology over the past few years and now are rivaling companies like Apple and Samsung. I eagerly got ready and headed downstairs for another delicious hotel breakfast. I knew today would be great.
When we arrived at Huawei, I was immediately impressed. The exterior façade of the building our bus pulled up to was marvelous! Upon entry, my jaw dropped. This was one of the fanciest, if not the fanciest building I had ever been in. Marble everywhere, massive crystal chandeliers, and red carpet composed the main entryway. I would compare it to five-star Las Vegas hotels, but that would not do this building justice. We took a group photo and they took us to their exhibition room. The first thing we saw was a 16k, floor to ceiling screen playing a video of a waterfall. The definition of this screen was so good that I genuinely think standing at the waterfall would not look any more realistic. As we rounded the corner, my breath was once again taken away by the architecture of the room. Black marble floors, a blue arched ceiling, and white walls greeted us. It was clear that Huawei wanted to impress very important individuals while displaying their new technology. This building was palace like! The technology was no less impressive- I would gladly trade in my iPhone for a Huawei phone in a heartbeat if I had the option to do so in the United States. After a tour of their exhibition room, we headed upstairs to their meeting room. This room was on par with the rest of the building, evidenced by the fact that it had hosted prime ministers in the past. Here, we were given a quick presentation and had a Q and A session over coffee. On our way out, we were given framed pictures of the group photo we had taken only a few hours earlier as well as a book about Huawei, along with some other goodies. I expected a lot from Huawei, and they still managed to completely exceed my expectations.
Next on our list for the day was another company visit, VIPkid. Unlike Huawei which was a ways outside of Beijing, VIP kid was located high in a skyscraper in the business district of the city. We were shown around by a former Pitt graduate student who had moved to China after graduating in 2009. It was cool to find a Pitt grad in China, as it shows that a Pitt degree really can take you anywhere if you set your mind to it. He showed us around their office, then gave us a rundown on the company’s brief but impressive history. They started in 2013 and quickly became the go-to website for Chinese students to be tutored in English. VIPkid uses a system similar to Uber, where English speaking teachers can sign up then work whenever they choose from their computer. It offers face to face contact with English speakers for the Chinese students (over a skype-style call), as well as lessons that don’t involve teachers at all. It has proven to be successful in the Chinese markets, so VIPkid is trying to expand into the English-speaking market teaching kids and adults Mandarin Chinese. It was very cool to see how a young company could expand so fast.
Both company visits today were incredibly interesting for very different reasons. They were both business focused, which I thought would be boring as an engineer, but they were both incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to visit more companies in Shanghai!