Asia Startup Pulse

How Citybox Finds Own Position Among Fierce Unmanned Retail Competitions, with Co-founder & COO Neo Lv

Episode Summary

By the end of 2017, over 200 unmanned store startups were launched in China, which attracted more than US$620 million investment just during that year. However, after the hype faded, only a few companies survived from the fierce competitions, and Citybox is one of them. Citybox started their business on a totally different path. As a result, their smart vending machine solution can be flexibly deployed in different scenarios which allows them to find the right channels for distribution. In 2017 and 2018, Citybox raised Series A and B from top VCs, like GGV, ZhenFund and SIG China. Our guest today, Neo Lv, is one of the company’s co-founders and today’s COO. He will take us back to the initial stage of the company and share how Citybox decided to take a very different playbook in terms of business strategy, coming from a deep understanding of the industry and a very lean startup technology approach. Instead of spending their funding on business development and developing hardware, Citybox concentrated their efforts to automate their operations. Today, Citybox is also a great marketing tool for brands to test and launch new products thanks to the data they can collect from a very loyal customer base.

Episode Notes

Our guest today, Neo Lv, is one of the company’s co-founders and today’s COO.

Show Notes:

02:11 Introduction to Neo Lv and Citybox

04:47 Unmanned retail hype in 2017 & what makes Citybox unique

08:54 Monetize data

12:51 How Citybox sustainably gets profitable among the strong competitions

18:27 Competitions bring new growth opportunities

24:47 How Citybox built their first generation of the smart vending machines

29:08 The future of unmanned retail

33:45 Compare China with other markets globally

Many thanks to our guest  Neo Lv; host Oscar Ramos; producers Eva Shi and Sagar Chaudhary; editor David; organizer Chinaccelerator; and sponsor People Squared. Be sure to check out our website

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