Few investors would like to invest in the first shopping search engine Yin Rujie founded in the U.S. in late 1990’s. Investors he approached back then argued that e-commerce sites wouldn’t let him index items on their sites for price comparison. Mr. Yin finally managed to raise some funding and later on founded another shopping search brand in the U.S. and his home country South Korea, and the third one for several developed countries. He sold all of the previous ones and now bets that China is the market for shopping search as e-commerce in China has become enormous.

After travel search Qunar went public on the New York Stock Exchange last month, Zhuang Chenchao, co-founder and CEO of Qunar, recently told ITTime that some 200 investors had refused to invest in Qunar since they started raising funding in 2005. (report in Chinese) Although Baidu acquired a controlling stake in 2011, prior to that Robin Li, CEO of Baidu, kept saying he didn’t believe vertical search services would work out and hadn’t seen any successful cases especially in China market. Qunar generated $81.75 million in revenue in 2012 and $58.46 million in the first half of 2013.

Those investors that passed on Qunar reasoned that, according to the report, the demand for air tickets couldn’t be big enough for a search engine even if the idea of price comparison worked. They didn’t see the online travel sector would grow so fast in China.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com