uasvision.com The photo above was shot in Shenzhen, Lotus Hill Peak and shows DJI’s initial entrepreneurial team – from right to left: Wang Frank, Chen Jinying, Lu Zhihui and Chen Chuqiang.

It all began in 2006, when a graduate student at Hong Kong University of Science, Wang Frank, founded and situated DJI in the school’s warehouse. “It was shabby, with not very tall ceiling, a small open space, and about 20 square meters of space. I did not know such a small warehouse existed.  But the three of us contently settled in there.” Lu Zhihui recalls. [Ed. note Lu Zhihui went on to
found MMC.]

When asked why he went for such a small company at the time, Lu Zhihui said that it was not out of profit as much as it was out of the interest in innovative technologies and the feeling of excitement that this technology gave him.

Out of four team members, only Wang Frank had a UAV technology background, Wang Frank thus served as a mentor to all of them, often giving them late night lessons. At the time the copter had a lot of problems.  Lu Zhihui would always say; “Wang Frank was a person that never gave up, no matter how troublesome the situation was.”

At that time, there were no titles between the members, between a few people in a room and a lot of things to be done, Lu Zhihui felt like working in a tech lab rather than an entrepreneurial facility. When the company began accepting investments, the relationship between the members got more complicated.

By the end of 2008 Lu Zhihui left DJI. Within six months, both Chen Chujiang and Chen Jinying also left.

Lu Zhihui believed DJI’s growth happened thanks to Wang family’s wealth that ensured Frank enough funding to fully focus on research and development rather than worrying about actual profits. Later on, however, after retracing DJI’s growth path, he found out that it was not only by the strength of Wang’s family, but also via introduction of numbers external resources that DJI led to the top. One of these resources was Wang Frank’s mentor Lize Xiang. Not only did Frank bring money back to his university, but also managed to obtain referrals and employ many likeminded people from the same institution he came. This gave him a stable influx of high quality referred experts with the same foundation that he had.

A bunch of young guys in a warehouse instead of a garage. One more focused than the rest. Tight ties to a university. People passionate about innovation. It’s a very familiar story. With stunning results.
Not sure if the article was written by a Chinese person, or is a translation of an article originally written in Chinese which is my guess. Either way, it’s a fascinating history.

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