Why Apple Chose a No-Cash, Low-Marketing Startup to Appear in All Its Stores Across China

Beijing, March 2, 2016 – Origins Technology, a Beijing-based startup that develops smart technologies, announced that its Laser Egg smart air quality monitor is available in 29 Apple stores across China as of March 2. It will be in Apple’s online store starting March 24.

Origins Technology is less than two years old. It has a very modest marketing budget. How did this little startup catch the eye of global tech giant Apple?

“When people ask us how we got into the Apple store, I don’t really know what to say,” co-founder Liam Bates says, “We just knew that if we made a good product that was simple, beautiful and practical, people would enjoy using it.”

That turned out to be true, and the users included Apple staff, who quickly became fans of the monitor and its app.

Since the launch of the Laser Egg, the product has been popular with both expats and Chinese, for use at home and in the office. With only a simple WeChat store and fan following, sales growth rates since launch in June 2015 have averaged almost 100% month on month.

Employees of Apple’s Shanghai office were soon bringing their Laser Eggs to work, where they became hugely popular. This caught the eye of Apple headquarters, and within weeks the Laser Egg was ushered onto store shelves across the country.

Laser Egg Is a Tech Treasure – and Part of an Entrepreneurial Adventure

“Trying to create a company, and create a great product is just like going on an epic adventure,” says Bates, who built a large fan club in China as the presenter of a TV adventure travel show.

“Crazy things happen every day, and it is really, really exhausting, but ultimately, really rewarding! When we saw the Laser Egg on the shelves of the Apple Store, it felt just like when Ken and I arrived in Shanghai at the end of our motorbike trip.”

In 2009, two good friends set off on the adventure of a lifetime, travelling by motorbike from Tibet to Shanghai, 8000km across the Chinese countryside. Neither of them had ever ridden a motorbike, and they barely had enough cash to buy petrol.

Liam Bates and Ken Ying travelled on a shoestring budget, sometimes sharing a single plate of fried rice a day. They encountered gangsters, thieves, and even crashed into a tractor in Jiangsu province. It was a tough trip, but full of adventure and excitement, and the pair became friends for life.

A New Adventure

5 years after their first trip, Liam and Ken decided to set off again, this time on a completely new kind of adventure, and joined by Liam’s fiancée, Jess. The trio created Origins Technology to design beautiful devices to monitor and improve the environment. As with their first adventure, they had zero experience, and zero cash.

With an adventurous spirit, they set off to Shenzhen, and began calling up factories and telling them their ideas and dreams for the future. After several days of factories hanging up the phone on them, they needed to change tactics. Liam and Ken found the most expensive hotel in all of Shenzhen, and casually mentioned to the factories that they were staying there.

“Suddenly everyone wanted to talk to us, and they all sent fancy cars to pick us up,” Bates recalls, laughing.

“So we would go to that super-expensive hotel, and then find a really dirty, cheap, rundown hostel next to it, where we would sleep. Fifteen minutes before our meeting, we would walk into the five-star hotel and sit on the lobby couch.”

From these very grassroots beginnings, Origins was born, and the Laser Egg was created. The Laser Egg is a high accuracy smart air quality monitor that allows consumers to measure air pollution for themselves.

A look at the team today shows that other than size, not much has changed: everyone loves to travel, and each team member has countless stories about their adventures hitchhiking across Europe or bicycling solo in Nepal.

Press Contact

Jessica Lam
Origins Technology Limited
(+86) 186 1143 6428

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