We talked to Yuan Li, co-founder of Benewake, about the research, development, and production of solid-state LiDAR during the pandemic and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Yuan Li: We are staying safe.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Benewake.
Yuan Li: Benewake was founded after I came back to China in 2015. There were several professors and alumni who worked with me to turn the academic achievements into products so that they could benefit more people. We later launched a LiDAR product, specifically aimed at drones. Now Benewake LiDAR is widely applied in transportation, drone, robot, industrial automation, and IoT. I still remember when I started my business, I said we must make a product, let it fly to every corner of the world, up to the space probe to Mars, down to the rural areas of Africa. Now Benewake market is distributed in 38 countries and regions around the world.
How does Benewake innovate?
Yuan Li: We provide innovative LiDAR sensors and related solutions. Now Benewake’s patent application has reached 274. Unlike other manufacturers, we focus our market on the transportation sector, not only autonomous driving. Especially this year, Benewake will release the world’s first LiDAR focusing on rail transit, which will bring a breakthrough in efficiency and safety in the field of rail transit.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Yuan Li: The sudden outbreak of Coronavirus at the beginning of 2020 brought great turbulence to the global market, But Benewake survived the impact of the pandemic smoothly with its global market layout and mature high-end technology and maintained the consistent revenue and profit growth of the company for several years. We go through the weak market during the special period.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Yuan Li: Benewake didn’t give up on any employees. We strengthen talent training and widen the service channel of overseas talents. The national English-language newspaper CHINA DAILY reports on Benewake’s introduction of overseas talents. https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202008/13/WS5f348efca31083481725ffa0.html
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Yuan Li: We are mainly on B2B mode and the pandemic had definitely band us from engaging with most, if not all, of the foreign customers. Our product sometimes requires site commissioning which became difficult with the domestic and international travel restrictions. We attended CES online exhibition and get to meet some new overseas partners.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Yuan Li: Benewake won the government’s Award for the innovative company.
Your final thoughts?
Yuan Li: 2021 is a key year for technology innovation enterprises. LiDAR, as one of the core sensing technologies, will develop at full speed this year. We expect to increase our investment in large-scale transportation this year to produce stronger and safer LiDAR.