Since its designation as a Special Economic Zone, Shenzhen has earned its reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley for hardware.’ Many hardware startups such as DJI choose to base their headquarters in Shenzhen, and hardware accelerators, such as Brinc and HAX, leverage the city to offer entrepreneurs a proximity to manufacturing that’s hard to find elsewhere.

However, jumping into hardware and getting hands-on with product manufacturing isn’t easy, especially as a foreigner in China. Navigating Chinese factories and negotiating with factory bosses can be a sink-or-swim experience for expat entrepreneurs, depending on their cultural fluency, language skills, and chutzpah.

We sat down with Liam Bates, the co-founder of Origins Technology, at ChinaBang Awards 2016 to discuss his experience in China as an expat running a hardware startup. Mr. Bates has lived in China on-and-off for a total of ten years, and used to film travel documentaries in China, an experience that surprisingly proved useful when he started Origins Technology without any previous experience in manufacturing hardware.

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Eva Xiao

Eva Xiao is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. Contact her at eva.xiao@technode.com or evawxiao (wechat & twitter).