Shenzhen. City of infinite possibility
Seven days. Nine factory tours. One million new WeChat connections.
This was my first of two visits to Shenzhen, the high-tech center of China. A stone’s throw from Hong Kong, the city glows with potential, powered by the spirit of the people who live and work there – ANYTHING is possible to them. If you can think it, there’s a good chance a prototype will be waiting for you at the front desk the next day.
In my bustling week there, I ran from pillar to post, meeting with product engineers, production managers, sales support people and QA teams to discuss the hardware I wanted to create for the launch of the Flyte brand into the regulated market.
I had written product briefs and spec sheets, outlining what we were looking for as we launched into the regulated market. I was now here to review the RFQs in person with the teams, ultimately looking to come home with five contenders from our original shortlist. For cartridges, we reviewed my requests for ceramic porosity, coil resistance and hole intake size to ensure they would be able to vaporize product. I was also on the hunt for heavy metals testing results from labs like SGS.
I was also looking to create a child-resistant buttonless battery to rival CCELL, the industry leader and makers of bullet-proof products. Also a high-capacity battery for the winter months as well as a commemorative throw-back.
“OH, YES. WE’RE GMP,” MY HOST SAYS, MOMENTS BEFORE I OBSERVE AN EMPLOYEE SMOKING ON THE PRODUCTION LINE. WHILE WEARING FLIP-FLOPS. AT LEAST HIS HAIR NET WAS ON.
I have been blessed, in my life, to have had collaborative relationships with clients and co-workers but, in Shenzhen, they take collaboration to a whole new level. The most impressive demonstration of this was a Velx, a dedicated cannabis vape spin-off of leading e-juice vape hardware maker GeekVape.
To set the tone, the four partners of the company share one large office, with desks facing the center of the room. No egos there.
Lunch starts at the same time for everyone. There’s a huge kettle of soup in the kitchen to supplement the lunch employees brought. Everyone ladles a bowl. The feel is like a restaurant – not in the furniture or decor but in the way people communed. Cross-departmental bonding. Engineers hanging with sales, QA hanging with marketing. In my meetings with the teams, it was evident that there were no boundaries between departments – there was something bigger to work towards.
At another manufacturer, we picked up a custodian along the tour who was only too happy to talk about his company’s plans for the future and how his contribution was vital to their GMP and ISO accreditations. I was unable to have lunch there, but the vibe was the same – EVERYONE matters.
Of course, there are always exceptions, I visited two factories that were managed in the old, autocratic way – from the top down. No morale, bare minimum standards, people scurrying when senior management arrived. No thanks. The topper on on of those visits was seeing a worker in a “GMP” facility who had booties over his flip-flops and stood, barefoot, atop them. While smoking a cigarette.
That was the exception, not the rule.
My second visit was to further development on cartridges and batteries from my first visit. As well as take in the enormous IECIE vape expo. I had been to the expo in Prague and met with some of these vendors, but the Shenzhen show was immense. We had further shortlisted vendors and were now working towards developing the products to lead the relaunch of the Flyte brand.
What a great experience for a nerd, in this Willy Wonka hardware paradise.
Technology continues to evolve and there are new ideas we are very sweet on. I have not ceased my relationships with manufacturers (friends) and am eager for the day I can get back to Shenzhen to pick up where I left off