Chinese Ex-Google Engineer Builds $1.5 Billion Startup in Under Two Years

After working as a tech lead at Google, Colin Huang decided to run his own business. Now, less than two years after its founding, his fourth startup is valued at $1.5 billion.

Huang’s brainchild is Pinduoduo (PDD), an e-commerce site that capitalizes on a fun shopping experience. The Shanghai-based business is wisely accessible on WeChat, China’s popular messaging app.

Having just raised more than $100 million, PDD is now valued at over 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion), Bloomberg noted. It’s an impressive feat for a company founded just 21 months prior.

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In essence, PDD attempts to bring the shopping mall experience right at the customer’s fingertips. The idea is to let a group of people such as friends shop together so they can get discounts.

While shopping, users can share ideas, consult opinion and even gossip. This makes PDD a shopping site with a social flair, which Huang finds to be advantageous. He told Bloomberg:

“A few companies have tried this before, but no one has really been able to do it. We felt we had a competitive advantage.”

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The 37-year-old founder draws his business acumen from life experiences, one of which was some time with Google. It was 2004 when he chose to join the then-unproven search engine over Microsoft, where he spent two years as an intern, for its “uncertainty.”

In 2007, he launched his first company called Ouku.com, which sold electronic devices. This was followed by Leqi, a marketing service, and a gaming startup that offered role play titles on WeChat. Huang claimed the latter two made him “financially free.”

Observing the dynamics between Alibaba and Tencent, China’s top two internet companies, Huang then found the opportunity to create a service that cuts across e-commerce and games. By May 2015, he succeeded in raising $8 million and launched PDD months later.

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The service is a work in progress. Today, its total goods sold amount to four billion yuan ($580 million) a month, a solid rise from the monthly 100 million yuan ($14 million) it recorded in early 2016.

Cover Image via Xinhua

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