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China's Avcon Bridges Videoconferencing and Surveillance
China's nationwide outbreak of SARS in 2003 may have caused trouble for many businesses but it jump-started Avcon Information Technology, a provider of videoconference and surveillance systems. (And, yes, the two are close cousins.)
"We caught a glance from Lady Luck," says Liu Xiaolu, 43-year-old cofounder and general manager of Avcon in Shanghai. Basically there are two methods to set up a videoconference system: using PC-based software or using special equipment with embedded software. At that time the China market for such capability was divided up by international giants like Cisco and Polycom of the U.S., which focused on the more profitable equipment business. Avcon, as a new player trying to find a way in, was engaged in less capital-consuming software development.
"The outbreak increased the demand for videoconference but also made it hard to find intercity logistics for equipment shipping," Liu recalls, "while we only need to remotely install our software on our clients' computers. Actually we didn't even meet our first batch of clients until a couple years later." Avcon collected $1.4 million in sales within a year of its founding in 2003. Last year it made $13 million net profit on $33 million revenue and qualified for FORBES ASIA's Best Under A Billion (BUB) companies list.
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