Over the weekend it was announced in the United States that a Shanghai company, Touchmedia, was a winner of perhaps the world’s most prestigious award for new technology companies, The Red Herring Global 100.
Touchmedia, a home-grown China hi-tech success story, has broken the “Made in China” stereotype, which has traditionally positioned the country’s companies as the lowest value-added link in the industrial chain. It has turned the paradigm on its head to become “Invented in China.”
“I am stunned and ecstatic,” said CEO of Touchmedia, Micky Fung. “We have invested 7 years and $30 million to develop the technology and the business, but to win this award, of which tens of thousands of new technology companies dream, is incredible.
“Many people think of China as just a factory for making things invented and designed elsewhere,” Micky continued. “Well, we created all our hardware and software right here in Shanghai. It shows that Shanghai and China can lead the world in technology and innovation.”
The award was presented in San Diego, California, in front of 200 leading hi-technology entrepreneurs from more than 30 countries around the world, including the United States, France, UK, Germany, Russia, Japan and Canada. Touchmedia won the Asian award only one month ago and has now also won the global award.
Touchmedia uses interactive touchscreens for advertising. Their initial deployment, in taxis, reaches over 20 million viewers a month for an average 18 minute ride. They are the only outdoor interactive media winner and this is the first time ever in Red Herring’s history that this type of company has won the award. It is remarkable for a Chinese company to win this award, especially given the current economic downturn.
Touchmedia’s interactive touchscreen system can survive extremes of temperature, dust, vibration, humidity and rough usage in the very challenging taxi environment. In addition, Touchmedia has to date received more than 20 patents based on their proprietary hardware and software. Potential partners from more than 50 countries around the world have already approached them for technology, license and business cooperation opportunities.
Alex Vieux, CEO of Red Herring, in presenting the award, congratulated Touchmedia’s management, directors and staff. “A company that has won this award has achieved something extraordinary, something the whole world should notice.”
The three-day event, culminating in the awards was attended by many of the luminaries of Silicon Valley and the global tech industry, including Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, Juergen Stark of Motorola, Joe Schoendorf of Accel and Guy Gecht, President of EFI.
Touchmedia’s business model is as innovative as its technology. Conventional media has reach but poor effectiveness in terms of awareness, recall and response. The internet achieves higher effectiveness but has zero reach; a separate campaign is needed to reach out to drive viewers to a website. By taking interactive screens to the public, Touchmedia achieves both sets of benefits.
Further, all of the viewer’s actions and responses in the taxi can be measured and recorded. Even their phone number or email address can be collected, downloaded and provided to the advertiser. This gives a precise ROI on every advertising dollar spent.
Explained Mr Fung, “Our sales for 2008 were up 1000% and we have not seen any downturn in the last few months. In fact, sales increased 100% in just the last quarter of 2008.” Revenue forecasts for 2009 are above 200 million RMB. In research and development and in building the business, Touchmedia has already invested over 200 million RMB in China and will double that investment over the course of 2009. Within less than 3 years, the number of employees of Touchmedia has grown from 20 to over 400.
For more than 10 years, Red Herring’s editorial team has diligently surveyed entrepreneurship around the globe. Technology industry executives, investors, and observers regard the Red Herring 100 as an invaluable instrument to discover and advocate the companies that will lead the next wave of innovation. Past award winners include Google, Yahoo!, Skype, Netscape and YouTube.
Touchmedia’s award shows that any Chinese enterprise that wants to differentiate itself, particularly in tough economic times, must innovate.
Touchmedia was founded in 2003 by Micky Fung to develop state-of-the-art touchscreen media technology in China. It is the largest in-taxi interactive media company in China, delivering innovative digital media solutions for clients and the out-of-home advertising industry, at a time when reaching affluent consumers on traditional media is increasingly challenging.