It’s the classic example of a business born out of frustration. Ning Li wanted a new sofa. He was 28, working as a banker, and wanted to splash some cash on a piece of designer leather furniture. He shopped the home furnishing stores, eventually found a sofa of choice, and just was about to stick the £3000 bill on his credit card when he happened to talk to an old school friend from China, the country he grew up in.
‘I just mentioned to my friend, who I’d sat next to every day at primary school, that I was about to buy this sofa’, says Li. ‘And he told me that he had just taken over his parents’ furniture-making factory – and that they had won the contract to make the exact sofa I was about to buy.’
Li’s friend informed him ...