FOREIGN MAKERS ON THE RISE
Author: Zhang Xinyuan
Liam Bates, 32, moved to Beijing 10 years ago from Switzerland. It was gut-wrenching for him to see his Canadian girlfriend suffering from an asthma attack because of the polluted air in the city, so he decided to make his own air purifier to make their life easier.
“My girlfriend would not stop coughing as soon as she got off the plane. She couldn’t even sleep at night,” Bates said. His girlfriend’s parents suggested they buy an air purifier.
“We went shopping together, but only found a brand I hadn’t heard of, the effect was unclear and it cost more than 8,000 yuan ($1,248). The choice was so limited, so I decided to look into it and make one myself.”
Bates created his own air purifier called Oxybox. It only took him seven months to come up with his creation at half the cost of branded ones. He also designed an air quality testing device called Laser Egg, which is quite popular among the expat community in China.
There is an official term for people like Bates, who make their own gadgets based on their innovative ideas and combine them with advanced technology to change the way people live – “Maker.”
When Bates was trying to sell his air purifier to Keystone Academy, an international high school in Beijing, he was competing with big brands like Siemens and Philips.
“I thought I didn’t stand a chance at the time, but the school finally chose our product and bought more than 200 machines. That’s because our air purifier did the best in the tests conducted by the school. Our company only comprised three people back then,” Bates said.
“China’s well-rounded manufacturing system also makes it easier for makers to transform their ideas into actual products,” Bates said.
“There are millions of components in the market that can be used to build different products, and a lot of factories can help you build the products whether it’s 30 or 3,000 of them, in a very short amount of time.” […]