Hong Qinghua, the founder of lvmama.com, is known to his staff as “Father Lu.”
Born in a remote village in east China’s Anhui Province, Hong was rather a naughty boy, playing all day and hating to study. Until one day, when his father took off his shoes after coming in from the field, Hong saw his father’s socks old and torn with his toes sticking out. It was then he realized that only study could give him a way out of the harsh living conditions endured by his family.
Not wanting to grow up to be a farmer like his father, Hong immersed himself in learning.
His dream was simple — to go to university and achieve great success. He also wanted to be able to buy enough socks to last his father a lifetime.
Hong had seen photographs of East China Normal University which were in sharp contrast to his living conditions and so, in 1993, when he was told he had been accepted by the university, he could hardly contain his excitement.
From his hometown of Susong to Shanghai, it’s a bumpy coach ride that takes 24 hours.
But Hong’s mind was only on the future and a realization that he was entering another world.
“I hadn’t seen traffic lights before, let alone colorful neon lights and huge flyovers. Shanghai was brightly lit and humming with traffic early in the morning,” he recalled.
He felt infinite possibilities in this international metropolis, and had already planned to get married and begin his career in the city.
During his university days, Hong also worked as a home tutor and a sales agent for a home products company. When he graduated with a master’s degree in 2000, he had saved 80,000 yuan (US$11,678), money he used to launch his career as an entrepreneur.
That same year, Hong was invited by Liu Feng to start a business in Beijing. Together they established the Beijing Davost Tourism Landscape Design Center, the parent company of Davost Intelligence.
However, starting a business was not easy.
“I was living in a basement of 13 square meters, which was also a work place. There was no space for taking a shower in a shared bathroom. In the darkest days, I almost gave up.” Hong said. But his enthusiasm kept him going.
Before he went to Beijing, Hong promised to his girlfriend that if he was successful, she would come to Beijing, but if he failed, he would go back to Shanghai. However, after three years, his girlfriend decided to stay in Shanghai.
In 2004, Hong gave up his success in Beijing and started from scratch again in Shanghai. He established Kchance Research in Jiading District and cooperated with the Tourism Research Center of Shanghai Academy of Social Science’s tourism research center and the designer of the Burj Al Arab Hotel.
When Kchance’s bid for a tourism planning project in Hainan Province’s Sanya was accepted over competition from around the world, the company earned its reputation in the industry.
However, not satisfied with doing tourism development planning, Hong turned his attention to business-to-customer services. “Kchance is not the end point,” Hong said. “ I know the tourism market in China and I think B2C is the development direction.” In 2008, he registered lvmama.com.
In business, Hong claims “Law of the Sky” rather than “Law of Jungle.” In the Internet era, respecting rivals can lead to mutual benefits and a win-win result. “In the sky are both weak sparrows and strong eagles. They live together in different situations to keep nature in balance,” Hong said.
Asked about his original intention to start a business, Hong said: “I have two motivations: first is to do something good for the society; second is living with dignity.”
He has experienced hard times, so he hopes other people can enjoy happiness through his hard work.
While achieving more success, Hong is determined to run a business with love. “Only when staff fall in love with you, can the enterprise have the possibility for sustainable development,” Hong said. From his point of view, the “love quotient” is more important than anything else. He tries to integrate such “love quotient” into his business management.
Hong makes time to hear from his staff with any ideas they have being discussed face to face. “I wish to get along well with my staff like an older brother,” Hong said.
Although his business is booming, Hong keeps going. His goal for his company is to become a respected online to offline tourism group and rank among the top five global tourism groups.
Hong said: “I hope Chinese can travel at freedom and dignity in the world.”