How do you get from growing up where your parents are factory workers, to becoming the richest man in China? This is the story of Robin Li, founder of Baidu- the biggest search engine in china. In all honesty his story gets me buzzing, he exemplifies the classical story of you can be who you want to be, you just have to be able to take the risk.
Let me start by saying Robin Li spent his childhood in acute hardships and lack of better education. Li could not afford to go to school, if not for the scholarships awarded him. But now, the company he founded is dominating the world’s fastest-growing internet market-China. Li has come out to say, his mother, taught him to stay motivated for a better tomorrow and that he grew up remembering his mother’s words, “We don’t have a back door, if you want a better life, a better job in the future you will have to study hard and ensure you get into the best college.” And all this helped him till he got his Bachelors of Science degree in information management at Peking University, China. After which in 1991, Li proceeded to the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York in the U.S for a postgraduate degree, which he finally received in 1994.
One of the few reasons I slightly support paid employment is for securing the necessary and important network in an industry (if you are in paid employment, make the most of it, by securing the necessary connects, and know when to exit) and in 1994, Robin Li joined IDD Information Services, a New Jersey division of Dow Jones and Company, as a software developer for the online edition of The Wall Street Journal. In 1996, Li received a U.S. patent for his development of the ‘Rankdex’, which is a site-scoring algorithm for search engine page ranking.
Just like we always say at CreativityTurf, being brave enough to take the step and knowing when to exit, Li decided in 1997, to start working on his own search engine, and this was the technology he used for the Baidu search engine. Later in 2000, Li decided to team up with Eric Xu and together they founded the most popular search engine in China, Baidu.Com. As of now, the search engine ranks #5 on Alexa and receives about 220 million pageviews per day. And now Li is now gearing up for a mobile push, which currently makes up a small percentage of sales but is growing at a rapid pace.
Trust me, we are not promising that all will go smoothly. Sometimes things could even get worse, but you just have to believe in your idea, in your business and in yourself. Know fully well that success doesn’t come easy, and for you to be among the few successful business owners, you will have to do things differently from everybody. Li has shown, your background, doesn’t determine where you end-up, Robin Li shows a classic case of rags to riches story, but because he dared to believe, he is now the richest man in Mainland China. Be inspired, dare to believe where you come from doesn’t determine where you end-up, you actually determine where you end-up.