The Heart of the Matter: The Humble Beginnings of Maodong Xu’s Fortune

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The name Maodong Xu is synonymous with success on a global scale. It’s no secret that the entrepreneur and blockchain mogul has made billions with his contributions to the eCommerce, FinTech, and mobile technology sectors. In 2016, he landed on the Forbes list of Chinese Billionaires—just one of many profiles written about his incredible success. But the true measure of such a successful man cannot be taken by simply ticking off his accomplishments and wrapping a tidy bow around his endeavors. The foundations of his immense success are found in a much more personal place, in a history of commitment, sacrifice, and big dreams.

Before he was a serial entrepreneur, Maodong Xu grew up in a small fishing village in Rizhao, part of the Shandong Province of China. In 1990, at the age of 23, he graduated from Wuhan University of Technology with a degree in Computer application & automation and a minor in business management. Just three years later, in 1993, this sociable and savvy young tech graduate wed his betrothed, Fang Zhou. As is culturally customary, upon their marriage, he was givenwedding gift money of 60,000 RMB—approximately $10,000—from friends and relatives.

Typically, this money would be spent on furniture and decoration to create a cozy start to their new life and home, but Maodong Xu saw a different future. In a warehouse with an area of less than 30 square meters, the newlyweds set up their home. They purchased a bed and mattress for 300 RMB, counting it and six wooden stools from his bride’s family among the scant belongings they brought to their new, unconventional home. The rest of the wedding money would fund his dream, and from this risk would come a reward beyond even Maodong Xu’s imagination.

“Tradition speaks to starting life out well with the gifts of loved ones,” says Mr. Xu, “and I believe that’s precisely what I did. I saw the best possible life for myself and my family. I saw the risk, and I measured it against the huge opportunity. This is how success happens. This is how I honor and care for my family.”

With the bulk of their wedding gifts free for investing, Maodong Xu founded his first business, the QiLu Supermarket, in 1994. The investment paid off, and this supermarket in his hometown of Rizhao would become the largest supermarket in the Shandong Province, expanding to multiple stores that would later be sold for investment money in additional endeavors. With a taste for successful investment and his extraordinary entrepreneurial genius and instinct as a guide, the fuse had been lit, and the successes compiled.

In 1998, Maodong Xu founded what would become the largest SMS application company in China, Dotad, which was later acquired by Focus Media for $30M, a price that would double when the share price increased after the acquisition. From 2007 on the tally of companies co-founded and sold continued to grow, with Maodong Xu investing, innovating, and cashing in on acquisitions of companies such as EGLS (acquired by Dragon Pipe for $500M), Lmobile (originally invested in by Softbank Asia Investment Bank and acquired by Telstra for $159M), Welink, Wowo, and others.

As the acquisitions brought him a bigger earnout, Maodong Xu continued to create and invest in tech companies then successfully exit them through large acquisitions, amassing his fortune while building his entrepreneurial empire. In 2017, Mr. Xu was named to the Top 10 News Figures in China list along with other known names such as Jack Ma. He brought his success mindset and investment model to the United States in 2018 when he moved overseas to assist his son, Haohan Xu.

His newest endeavor, Fresh2, is a business-to-business e-commerce platform which is upending the wholesale food supply standards with an innovative, open-sourced app and delivery service supplying Asian cuisine ingredients to restaurants. Fresh2 brings a new perspective and opportunity to end users and the food sources supplying specialty produce and ingredients, making fresh, quality ingredients readily available for providers of Asian fare, a leading food choice for consumers throughout the United States.

In a space where investment is often risky and only the smartest bets pay off, Maodong Xu’s journey has come full circle. From humble beginnings and one big risk to support his new family, to a multi-billion-dollar empire that includes collaboration with his own entrepreneurially minded son, the head for investment has all but obliterated the idea of luck. When it comes to dream building and realizing success, Maodong Xu is cornering the market, still focusing on bringing success to his family.

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