Zhou Qunfei is a sFounder and CEO of Lens Technology. Zhou Qunfei was born in 1970 in Xiangxiang, Hunan province, China, the youngest of three children in a poor family. Before she was born, her father, a former soldier, became partially blinded and lost a finger in an industrial accident in the 1960s.
A skilled craftsman, he supported the family by making bamboo baskets and chairs and repairing bicycles. Her mother died when she was five. As a child she helped her family raise animals for sustenance and small profit. Although she was the only one out of her siblings to attend secondary school and showed promise as a bright student, she dropped out at age 16 and moved in with her uncle's family to become a migrant worker in Shenzhen, the special economic zone in Guangdong province.
In Shenzhen she deliberately chose to work for companies near Shenzhen University, so she could take part-time courses at the university. She studied many subjects and passed the examinations to be certified for accounting, computer operations, customs processing, and even became licensed for driving commercial vehicles. Her biggest regret is not having studied English.
Although she dreamed of being a fashion designer, Zhou found a job working for a small family-run firm making watch parts for about 180 yuan a month. Displeased with the working conditions, she decided to quit after three months and submitted a letter of resignation explaining her reasons, yet expressing gratitude for the working opportunity. The letter moved the factory chief to offer her a promotion instead.
When the factory folded, she established her own company in 1993 at age 22, with her savings of HK$20,000 (~USD$3,000). It was her cousin who encouraged her to start on her own business, and the company began with her brother, sister, their spouses, and two cousins all working out of a three bedroom apartment. The company appealed to customers by promising higher-quality watch lenses. Here, Zhang took a hands on approach and involved herself in all parts of the company, including repairs and creating improved designs of factory machinery. In 2001, she caught her big break when her company won a profitable contract to make mobile phone screens for the Chinese electronics giant TCL Corporation.
In 2003, while still producing watch faces, Zhou's company received a request from Motorola to develop glass screens for their Razr V3, during a period when the mobile phone industry was transitioning from plastic to glass display screens.
Following this, Zhou Qunfei started touch-screen maker Lens Technology (named so that it would turn up to potential customers searching "lens" online) in 2003 and the company soon received orders from other mobile-phone makers such as HTC, Nokia, and Samsung Electronics. After producing the touch screens for Apple's iPhone during its 2007 market entry, Lens developed into the dominant player of the industry. Lens Technology now primarily supplies touch-screens to leading electronics makers such as Apple, Samsung, and Huawei, receiving nearly 75% of its revenue from Apple and Samsung. The Apple Watch uses her company's glass and sapphire crystal screens.
As of 2017, the company employs about 90,000 people, was expected to churn out more than a billion glass screens, and has 32 different factory locations. Last year, Lens posted net profits of 1.18 billion yuan on revenue of 14.5 billion yuan.