- Zhu Jianqiang has been in trouble since March 2019.
- The company still owes students over $29 million.
- More companies founded on fancy concepts may face the same fate.
Zhu Jianqiang, which means Strong Pig in Chinese, is the name of a pig that survived under rubble for 36 days after the 8.0 MS Wenchuan Earthquake in 2008. It has become a symbol of survival in China ever since. Since September 2014, a namesake company started to enter people’s daily lives.
Zhu Jianqiang describes itself as an online driving school based on the concept of Internet +, proposed by China’s prime minister Li Keqiang in his Government Work Report on March 5, 2015. It doesn’t own instructors nor training courts itself but acts as an agent between learners and traditional driving schools, offering cheaper learning fees and a reduced period of waiting for exams. Within just four years, the company has developed markets in most major cities with more than 200,000 students, making it one of the largest driving schools in China.
On September 25, news about Zhu Jianqiang going bankruptc suddenly trended online. People start to talk about their bad experiences with this company. It’s all downhill from here.
Informants recall that the company has been involved in legal proceedings since March 2019, and a few months later they stopped paying salaries. Students have been waiting for months just to get their enrollment ID numbers. The Shenzhen Public Security Bureau Traffic Police Station reveals that Zhu Jianqiang doesn’t even hold a certificate allowing them to run this kind of business. It makes people wonder how this company gets away with operating for so many years.
Taking $730 as the average fee, Zhu Jianqiang should be in possession of at least $146 million over the years. Where did the money go? According to several reports, Zhu Jianqiang highly values brand marketing. They spent $59 million on advertising over just five years since their foundation, during which they’ve only received $35 million of funding. Zhu Jianqiang still owes the learners over $29 million fees in just Guangdong, which most people consider impossible to get back.
A journalist has called Zhu Jianqiang asking for refunds. Customer service confirms that the company is in deep trouble and that they couldn’t guarantee any refund for the moment. They claim that since it’s the learners that apply for refunds, it’s considered a violation of the learning contract, for which they would need to retain $150 even if they’re able to refund the rest someday.
Some learners report that when they enrolled, Zhu Jianqiang highly recommended paying by installments, a service provided by DaE Haoche. They complain that now that the driving school has gone bankrupt, they still need to pay DaE Haoche monthly, a violation of which would incur a daily interest of $0.6.
Apparently, Zhu Jianqiang is just a common business idea branded with concepts of Internet + and big data and it worked, at least for a few years. As the push dies down gradually, more companies without a true competency may face the same fate as Zhu Jianqiang.