Wang Weibin was educated locally.
At the age of 25, Wang set up Suntrans Group with an initial fund of RMB100 000. After eight years, the company had become a diversified group with 11 sub-companies dealing primarily in software and real estate development, and with total assets of RMB2 billion in 2004. Wang’s interest in developing educational software might have been inspired by his own bumpy academic journey. After graduating from junior high, Wang did not have a chance to continue his education, but fell into a variety of jobs in areas such as hospitality, printing, and trading. As a result of his entrepreneurial spirit and hard work, Wang made a name for himself in the fields of biology, information technology, and real estate in Beijing, with assets of RMB1 billion all before reaching the age of 30.
Wang’s financial success and sparse educational background did not sway his belief in the importance of education. The chance to do something practical for Chinese education came when Wang read the news about a breakthrough on the theory of ‘machine proving of geometric rules’ developed by Dr Zhang Jingzhong, an academic from the China Academy of Sciences. Wang sensed the potential of applying this scientific finding to the development of educational software, which could help solve the problem of the shortage of qualified teachers in many rural areas of China. It was a perfect match for both sides: one needed funding; the other was looking for good technology to make an investment. Soon after Wang and Zhang met, they decided to establish the Beijing Suntrans Tiandi Technological Development Corporation in 2000.
Wang became president and invested RMB20 million into the development of the Suntrans Intelligent Educational Software, which was to serve both junior and senior high school students in subject areas such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The earliest independent development of educational software in China could be traced back to 1987. Those software products, however, were little more than a collection of examination questions. They were dull and hated by all students. Although not the first educational software developed in China, Wang’s product is the first intelligent educational software in the nation, with characteristics such as human-machine interaction, dynamic graphing, and artificial intelligence key. Learning lessons from the previous failed products, the Suntrans software was developed in an innovative and interesting way, including functions such as dynamic drawing, question generation, interactive intelligence problem solving, and artificial intelligence.
Aimed at the potentially huge educational market in China, Wang’s ambitious plan prompted the development of the first intelligence network platform, which became the most influential network-based educational server provider in China in 2001. However piracy has long been a major problem in the Chinese software market. Soon after its release Wang discovered pirate versions of Suntrans software, but he has set the Suntrans educational network platform at the core of his company, where teachers and students can interact, and the pirate versions are unable seriously to jeopardize this core component of his business.