Dr. Gang Lu, the Founder & Chief Editor of TechNode.com, and independent China Internet business observer, researcher, and open-concept evangelist, firmly believes the Internet environment is still young in China and it is beginning to change and evolve. Far from slowing down, the past two years have brought a new challenge of entrepreneurship to Lu and his team after launching Kuukie (pronounced “cookie”), a custom, digital card print house with a social media edge in 2010. After over four years as an “unprofessional, professional tech blogger” covering both Chinese Internet and tech industry news and analyses, Lu didn’t feel right offering up advice to entrepreneurs if he himself did not have start-up experience. With his background and passions, social marketing seemed the logical choice for him, but it was only the beginning.
“There was one time that I realized, I might be able to combine the high-tech business action with a designing touch. And I found the business cards are important in China. They can express one’s personality,” says Lu. “Be it for business or personal use, we want to encourage users to ‘exchange their brand’ face to face. More importantly, developing that brand with us online.”
Therefore, Kuukie, an online custom cards printing service came into people’s eyes. The key feature that differentiates it from other online printing service is that users can customize both sides of each card, which means EVERY card printed can be different from each other on both sides.
“Although high-quality card printing is our main revenue source at this moment, but we define us as an Internet company, ” says Lu. He and his team established partnerships with a few popular social media sites in China to launch its social-media-only marketing strategy, like Weibo (Chinese Twitter), Jiepang (the LBS service) and Yupoo (image-sharing service). Lu added his exclusive strategy in social marketing to the value proposition of Kuukie, which creates a multi-functional online platform for cards distribution.
Defying all stereotypes of the elusive tech geek, Lu, a longtime lover and supporter of the arts, joined forces with creative collaborator NeochaEDGE, to put another “edge” to his online printing service.
NeochaEDGE is a bilingual, Shanghai-based agency, which made a name for itself in China’s creative community a few years ago. Acting as an online link between Chinese artists and their consumers, NeochaEDGE showcases and promotes the nation’s independent artists throughout the Mainland and abroad. Going beyond the everyday printing service, this artsy alliance between Lu’s team and NeochaEDGE offers clients the option to customize their own products and print with a bit of artistic muse -- pulling from designs of NeochaEDGE's Chinese creatives. With NeochaEDGE's artists posting their work for businesses and people across China to use as they network, a new medium has organically developed for people to support the arts community. Adding a new spin to online marketing, everyone including local artists of all fields, including those outside of the mainstream, can now build their own platform to promote their work, and even more importantly, get paid.
“Most consumers, including businesses, want to be creative and love the idea of having arts and special design on their cards, but usually don't know where to start. This is the service we provide," says Lu. Once people order, that's where the social media aspect of the project kicks in. “The way we market our service is very high-tech," explains Lu.
"When users receive their cards, we encourage them to have a strong online presence,” he continues. The site is built so people can interact with other users and the artists they're supporting. “We not only want to promote the Chinese independent artists to the Chinese and the global market," says Lu. "We want to find a way to both promote and monetize the artists' work."