Chinese furniture e-commerce Li Ning Deng Times Weekly wants to build the next IKEA

Li Ning was born in Foshan, a small town in southern China. Today, two years ago, he and his companions founded an interesting company,, in London, England. Most of the furniture sold on this site comes from the hands of excellent and even well-known designers. However, users find that their price is only a fraction of that of traditional furniture stores. In 2011, the company's business grew by 700% and now sells three to four 40-foot containers per day.
Li Ning, the founder of the company, also made the "Time" weekly magazine more than a year ago because he founded such a "fast company." At the age of 16, he went to a boarding school in France and, like many teenage Chinese students, quickly integrated into the local culture and entered Paris, a prestigious business school in Europe. After graduation, Li Ning successfully entered the investment bank and continued an enviable personal development path. However, he quickly discovered that he was different from others: he liked creativity and needed a lot of free time to implement these ideas. In 2007, Li Ning had its first company.
The original inspiration came from his own home experience in Paris. At the time, he was going to spend $3,000 to buy a Chesterfield-style leather sofa. But a friend told him that the sofa was assembled in China and the production cost was only $300. While saving a sum of money, Li Ning was driven by curiosity to investigate: Foshan is one of the Chinese furniture production bases, and some of the high-end furniture exported from his hometown to the European exhibition hall, through more than 7 middlemen, There is huge profit margin.
Based on this discovery, Li Ning founded a furniture sales website called and achieved success. After leading his company to lead the industry in France, he sold his shares and began to travel around the world. Not long after, he met Brent Hobman, founder of, the UK's fastest growing online travel retail business, and he agreed to continue to optimize business based on the success of The model, combined with Mark Simon Simon, founder and CEO of Meetic, Europe's largest dating site, John Hunter, founder of interactive media agency Syzygy, and PROfoundersCaptial, to invest £2.5 million in the new company.
In April 2010, was founded in Notting Hill, northwest corner of Hyde Park, London. Chinese readers know this place because of a movie of the same name, which tells a fairy tale story of a "grey boy." Li Ning and two entrepreneurial partners are Julian Called and Chloe Chloe. In a recent interview, he mentioned that the two partners and he have complementary talents. However, his responsibilities include everything from day-to-day management to strategic decision making. In addition, "I have to urgently respond to urgent problems in daily operations."
Today, has 65 employees, 16 of whom are in Shanghai, responsible for working with more than 40 furniture manufacturers in China. The company works with some of Europe's finest furniture designers to deliver their work to Chinese factories. In the process, whether it is collecting ideas, testing the popularity of ideas, or selling, it is done through the Internet, thus reducing the intermediate links and significantly reducing the price.
Currently, there are similar crowdsourcing websites in other industries. For example, Threadless, the online T-shirt sales site in Chicago, first used a similar approach to collect design ideas from users. According to reports, after this, some large companies (such as Procter & Gamble and General Electric) have begun to collect products and advertising ideas in a similar way. However, slightly modified this model of relying on collective intelligence. The company works primarily with world-class designers and artists, including the most expensive contemporary artist in the UK, Damien Hirst, and the design is exclusive. Of course, in the end, the user will vote to determine the value of these designs and ideas, and the company will decide what to sell. In addition, in an interview with this journal, Li Ning also pointed out that the most important point is that with the power of the Internet, the company’s final price is only a fraction of the ordinary price of these design works. “Because there is no middleman, warehouse, Inventory cost, etc.". Although some European media believe that is already the leader of online furniture retailers in the UK, Li Ning believes that his and his team's goals go far beyond this. When it comes to the future, his answer is straightforward: "To be the next IKEA."
Li Ning believes that the company's main competitors are those traditional furniture retailers, which have performed well in both the UK and other parts of Europe. It is understood that although these companies have a very stable brand and have been recognized by local consumers, the operating costs are also very high, especially in the display, inventory and other aspects. The biggest problem is that these traditional European brands are moving very slowly to the Internet. In the view of Li Ning's team, this is the best time for an innovative company like this to create its own brand.
However, the virtual world does not cover all the business links. The model of purchasing and placing orders first gives a lot of cost advantages, but the logistics requirements are very high. Although users can show more patience with the arrival time for low prices, this kind of patience is not endless. Li Ning also recognized the difficulty and even thought it was the biggest challenge for the company in the future. Since its inception, the company has invested heavily in the establishment of a very advanced and sophisticated ERP system that allows companies to track and monitor cross-border supply chains and customer orders. “Logistics is the main link we need to innovate and move towards excellence.” Li Ning explained.
2012 is very important for him and the company. The young businessman who wants to shuttle between China and Europe every month believes that he is still an authentic Chinese entrepreneur. His biggest dream is: "Go back to China and devote yourself to the Chinese consumer market."
Who is my entrepreneurial tutor?
Li Ning has two entrepreneurial instructors who have a deep influence on him:
Mark Simon Sydney "A great French entrepreneur who founded Meetic, Europe's leading online dating site, was acquired by, the dating site of IAC, America's largest online travel services company. When I was still working for Mark, He told me what an entrepreneurial spirit is and how to do business on the Internet. He is also the lead investor at the founding of"
Brent Hobman, the founder of, an online travel retail business, and mydeco, an online furniture retail website. He persuaded me to come to the UK to help me start my entrepreneurial journey here. Hobman is still here. Directly involved in the operation of, every day is guiding me how to develop into a great brand and become a company with greater ambition."

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