Richard Liu Qiangdong: Born from Poverty

The most inspirational entrepreneurial stories begin in poverty. People born at the bottom of the food chain see the world in ways that wealthy people could never understand. It’s how people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs grow up and change the world.

One of the poorest beginnings belongs to Richard Liu Qiangdong, founder of JD.com. Richard Liu’s family owned a small shipping company that only shipped coal from one end of China the other. As coal became less used, their company fell into dismay, leading to Richard Liu being raised in one of the impoverished communities on the outskirts of a major city.

After earning his primary degree, he enrolled in the People’s University of China intending to obtain a degree in sociology. From an early age, Richard Liu wanted to be in politics; the People’s University of China was known for its political-elites connections.

To earn extra money, Richard Liu worked as a freelance computer programmer. That extra came in hand when his grandmother got sick and his family needed help affording her treatment. He continued working as a freelance coder after earning his degree from the People’s University. He realized such a degree doesn’t come with such a profitable career, so he later enrolled at the China Europe International Business School.

His first entrepreneurial venture ended badly, but he learned from the experience. With some spare freelance money and some family loans, he acquired a small restaurant. As a young man, he believed that owning a restaurant would be easy but that cheerful disposition quickly faded. Like many restaurants, Richard Liu’s failed within the first six months.

His next attempt would be the one that changed the world. In 1998, Richard Liu opened a tiny four-square-meter shop called Jingdong that sold magneto-optical products. The business found huge success, allowing Richard Liu to open 11 more locations by 2003. Not even that year’s SARS outbreak could stop Richard Liu. In 2004, he closed his brick-and-mortar stores and changed the company’s name to JD.com

Liu Qiangdong’s: Twitter.

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