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Farm boy digs up tasty business idea

By Ma Lie  (China Daily)

10:23, June 08, 2012

Wang Honggang puts vegetables into a vending machine in a residential community in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, on Thursday. (China Daily/Yuan Chen)

Buying beverages from a vending machine one day planted an idea in Wang Honggang's head - using the machines to sell vegetables.

It's a way the college grad, who studied how to use computers to run machinery, could combine his education with his upbringing on a farm.

"It is a business familiar to me and my fellow villagers," said Wang, 26.

Since childhood, Wang had helped his father grow vegetables on their farm on the outskirts of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

Yet with the expansion of the city, their farmland had to make way as high-rise offices and residential buildings ate up their vegetable fields.

"We talked about what to do next," Wang said, "and we agreed that we'd better continue with our vegetable business, in which we have the most expertise, but in a better and trendy way."

Then on a hot July day in 2010, Wang and some of his fellow villagers went shopping downtown and bought some beverages from a vending machine.

Suddenly they got the idea to sell vegetables with the machines, prompting Wang and six others to establish a company to do just that.

Then Wang discovered that the knowledge he learned in college was extremely helpful in redesigning the machines to sell vegetables.

The team also designed a small plastic package to hold the vegetables.

"They are reusable," Wang said. "We put a recycling bin next to each vending machine. That both decreases our cost and protects the environment."

At the same time, they rent farmland in the city's remote eastern suburb where they have 10 greenhouses to grow vegetables.

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