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Young Chinese entrepreneur has big image IP ambitions

Lifestyle2018-02-09

CEO Wang Biao and his team at 12 Block Culture have come a long way since their humble beginnings in a quest to become China's first and biggest image intellectual property incubator company. 12 Block Culture is known for its WeChat emoticons but what it does goes far beyond that. “Our WeChat emoticons have been sent tens of billions of times; 20 or 30 billion times (and) have been downloaded a billion times," said Wang, a 31-year-old entrepreneur. "However, our business model isn't based on emoticons. It's just a segment of our business model. It's something for our era, which can draw our attention in an instant, with very low costs. "Our business model is based more on incubating image intellectual property. The image intellectual property I'm talking of is like Hello Kitty, Kumamon – 'Line' emoticons from Japan – or Snoopy from the US. These are typical image intellectual properties. The logic of our company's operations is based on image IP. To put it in a simple way – we want to attract lots of attention within controllable costs, then transform this attention into value." In 2013, Wang Biao set up his own studio in Taiyuan in northern China. Wang Biao, CEO of 12 Block Culture. "At that time, we found that some good images were already on the Internet," he said. "And we found that the rapid development of the Internet could help us to nurture an image IP quicker and more efficiently. Under such circumstances, we managed to find some good painters and punsters online, and invited them to work in our studio. Then we incubated two images 'Tuanzi' and 'Freezing Girl', which turned out to be very popular." At the end of 2015, Wang formally set up 12 Block Culture as well as a company to attract investment. Later, they expanded with branches in such major cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. "I think image IP is a big business," Wang said. "It's a source of consumption and entertainment. For China, and for our country's youngsters, nurturing an image IP is very important, because we lack companies like those from Japan and the US, which can nurture their own IPs. So it has become our main goal – to nurture our own image IPs that are loved by youngsters." Japan's GDP per capita was 8,000 US dollars in 1978 when its requirements for entertainment and consumption increased greatly. Two years later, many influential brands popped up, such as Hello Kitty and the 7-11 convenience store. China's GDP per capita reached 8,000 US dollars in 2016, according to Wang. From that point on, Chinese people's need for entertainment and consumption also increased. "I think two years after that, in 2018, China might have big image IP companies and influential IPs popping up. So we hope we can do something now." "Tuanzi" was also the first Chinese IP to have been invited to Japan by the Tokyo Tower. Taking this IP along with other Chinese elements to Tokyo was a cultural export. The result was pretty good. "And we will go there again during this Spring Festival," Wang said. For the coming Chinese Year of the Dog, Wang said the company made a "Tuanzi" doll, which has a dog's head for a hat. The hat can be taken off. "We have also made some functional products, such as this year's calendar. There is also a celebratory badge. And this is a case for data cable. It is very cute, and it's very portable. It looks like a badge, but it has data cable inside. You can pull out the cable to the length you like. When you don't use it, you can pull it again, and it will recoil automatically, and be wound up inside. We hope it can be a portable accompaniment for our fans." (CGTN)

CEO Wang Biao and his team at 12 Block Culture have come a long way since their humble beginnings in a quest to become China's first and biggest image intellectual property incubator company.

12 Block Culture is known for its WeChat emoticons but what it does goes far beyond that.

“Our WeChat emoticons have been sent tens of billions of times; 20 or 30 billion times (and) have been downloaded a billion times," said Wang, a 31-year-old entrepreneur. "However, our business model isn't based on emoticons. It's just a segment of our business model. It's something for our era, which can draw our attention in an instant, with very low costs.

"Our business model is based more on incubating image intellectual property. The image intellectual property I'm talking of is like Hello Kitty, Kumamon – 'Line' emoticons from Japan – or Snoopy from the US. These are typical image intellectual properties. The logic of our company's operations is based on image IP. To put it in a simple way – we want to attract lots of attention within controllable costs, then transform this attention into value."

In 2013, Wang Biao set up his own studio in Taiyuan in northern China.

Wang Biao, CEO of 12 Block Culture.

Wang Biao, CEO of 12 Block Culture.

"At that time, we found that some good images were already on the Internet," he said. "And we found that the rapid development of the Internet could help us to nurture an image IP quicker and more efficiently. Under such circumstances, we managed to find some good painters and punsters online, and invited them to work in our studio. Then we incubated two images 'Tuanzi' and 'Freezing Girl', which turned out to be very popular."

At the end of 2015, Wang formally set up 12 Block Culture as well as a company to attract investment. Later, they expanded with branches in such major cities as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

"I think image IP is a big business," Wang said. "It's a source of consumption and entertainment. For China, and for our country's youngsters, nurturing an image IP is very important, because we lack companies like those from Japan and the US, which can nurture their own IPs. So it has become our main goal – to nurture our own image IPs that are loved by youngsters."

Japan's GDP per capita was 8,000 US dollars in 1978 when its requirements for entertainment and consumption increased greatly. Two years later, many influential brands popped up, such as Hello Kitty and the 7-11 convenience store. China's GDP per capita reached 8,000 US dollars in 2016, according to Wang.

From that point on, Chinese people's need for entertainment and consumption also increased. "I think two years after that, in 2018, China might have big image IP companies and influential IPs popping up. So we hope we can do something now."

"Tuanzi" was also the first Chinese IP to have been invited to Japan by the Tokyo Tower. Taking this IP along with other Chinese elements to Tokyo was a cultural export. The result was pretty good. "And we will go there again during this Spring Festival," Wang said.

For the coming Chinese Year of the Dog, Wang said the company made a "Tuanzi" doll, which has a dog's head for a hat. The hat can be taken off.

"We have also made some functional products, such as this year's calendar. There is also a celebratory badge. And this is a case for data cable. It is very cute, and it's very portable. It looks like a badge, but it has data cable inside. You can pull out the cable to the length you like. When you don't use it, you can pull it again, and it will recoil automatically, and be wound up inside. We hope it can be a portable accompaniment for our fans."

(CGTN)

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