China Perspective

Entrepreneur lives like a sheik after business success

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-02-04 06:46
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Virgos by their nature are meant to be conservative and lack determination for change, but when it comes to Zhang

Junyi the horoscopes have got it all wrong. "Action!" he yells. "Once you feel good about a business plan, just go for it."

His action philosophy has certainly worked for him. After arriving in Dubai in 2003, he was among the first to see a gap in the market and introduce massage chairs to the glamorous emirate. He now runs iRest, a massage equipment manufacturing company in China, and seven stores in the Middle East, including two in Qatar.

With millions of dirham in annual profits, the 30-year-old, who originally hails from Wenzhou in Zhejiang province, can now enjoy the kind of lifestyle others only dream of. He owns six apartments in Dubai, recently spent 400,000 AED ($110,000) on a new four-wheel drive Range Rover SUV and eats breakfast at the Burj Al Arab, dubbed the world's first seven-star hotel, once a week.

But success did not come easy. Zhang started as a secretary at a property firm in Wenzhou, but with help from Chen Zhiyuan, chairman of Wenzhou Chamber of Commerce in the United Arab Emirates, he headed to Dubai. "It was an awesome opportunity for me.," he said. It did not disappoint.

Despite the emirate boasting massive oil reserves, it offers an incomparable business atmosphere. With no corporate or income taxes, a top-notch banking system and a legal code that favors property and ownership, Dubai is the embodiment of former ruler Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum's motto that "what is good for merchants is good for Dubai".

Zhang struggled at first. He spoke only broken English and had little business experience. "Everyone treated me like a kid," he said. In his first eight months in Dubai, he had six jobs, including as a glass equipment salesman and a shopkeeper in Chinese supermarket. "I decided to calm down and carefully think about what my best business opportunity was," he said. That was when he stuck on the idea of massage chairs. "Life is boring in the Middle East as weather is extremely hot, so people spent much time at home," he said. "I thought to myself, 'I must grab the first bucket of gold'."

He rented a warehouse and, using his good connections, was able to import 10 containers of massage chairs worth about 4.5 million yuan ($660,000) without paying a penny. He recalled: "I told the manufacturers that I would eat all those chairs if I failed to sell them."

After seven months, Zhang had sold every chair. After seven years, his iRest brand is now one of the most recognized in Dubai. He plans to expand his business into northern Iraq next month. "Dubai is a dynamic place," he added.

China Daily

(China Daily 02/04/2010 page7)