If you’ve ever searched for a portable charger on Amazon, chances are you’ll see one name appearing over and over again: Anker.
The Chinese brand, founded in 2011, is a favorite among reviewers. Other brands might have more advanced features, but Anker’s power banks are known for providing just the right amount of goodies at an acceptable price. BestReviews endorsed the PowerCore 26800 as “Best of the Best.” Tom’s Guide called the PowerCore 20100 “an ace in every category.” And in 2017, the Wall Street Journal named a combo of Anker’s battery pack, power port and charging cable among their top holiday gifts.
It was all started by Steven Yang. A software engineer by training, the Peking University graduate quit his job at Google in 2011 for Anker -- a hardware startup he hoped would change how the world views Chinese products.
“In shops outside of China, shelves were filled with non-Chinese brands. Anything made in China was labeled as low-end, low-price,” he told Changsha Evening Post in 2013. “I wanted to introduce good Chinese products to foreigners. That was what motivated me.”
Armed with his mother’s life savings and less than US$1 million in funding, Yang returned from California to his native Changsha -- the capital of the mountainous southern province Hunan. Soon after, seeking to set up a supply chain and build prototypes for their first products, he headed to the tech hub of Shenzhen.
In the beginning, Anker chose to sell its products primarily on Amazon -- a move that has allowed it to save on retail and logistics costs, focusing instead on product research and engineering. The tactic combines the best of both worlds: Anker can take advantage of its close proximity to Chinese factories -- while using Amazon’s established infrastructure to reach American consumers.
It proved to be a winning formula. Today, Anker has more than 30 million customers across 100 countries and regions, according to its website. It makes a variety of products including power banks, wireless and car chargers, as well as USB and Lightning cables. It’s also expanded into a range of lifestyle gadgets like smart speakers, headphones, portable projectors, and robot vacuum cleaners under a number of sub-brands like Eufy and Roav.
Outside of Amazon, you might soon see more Anker products in physical stores too. Yang says they’re already selling offline in the US, Europe, Japan, the Middle East -- and of course, their home turf, China.