For Richard Qiangdong Liu, his childhood was tough, but this did not bring him down. It inspired him to become who he is today, the founder of the leading ecommerce platform in China, What were his early days like?

Liu Qiangdong was born in Chang’an, a small village in Jiangsu province, China. His parents worked as rice farmers while Liu was left taking care of his grandmother. It is during this time that Liu’s innovativeness was seen. He would accompany his grandmother to get pork meat where they would choose the fattiest cuts. After cooking the meat, they would keep the residual fat to prepare other dishes.

While in primary school, Liu organized for him and his classmates to go and see electricity (a light bulb) at a nearby town. During holidays when he was in middle school, Liu would use his little savings to travel to the nearby city of Nanjing. Here he would marvel at the buildings and dream of travelling the world.

Qiangdong was an excellent student but when he qualified for university his family could not afford to send him. The whole village came together to contribute the little they had for train fare and food. He joined Renmin University in Beijing where he pursued a degree in Sociology. During his free time, he would learn computer programming. He later joined China Europe International Business School where he pursued an EMBA.

Richard Liu’s first attempt at entrepreneurship was while in university where he started a restaurant near the school. This business failed within a year due to his lack of management skills. His next entrepreneurial venture was in 1998 when he started a storefront that distributed magneto-optical products in Zhongguancun. His was a reliable business that sold authentic products, a combination that saw the company experience a rapid growth.

Within five years, this became a retail store with 12 chain stores. In 2003, China experienced the SARs pandemic which affected many businesses including Richard Liu’s. He decided to start selling his products online and this is how was started. Liu wrote the first code for the company’s website, and he has since led it to become one of the best ecommerce platforms in the world. See this article for more information.


More about Richard Liu on