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Since Smartisan floundered, founder Luo Yonghao has tried out different ventures, the latest being live streaming. (Picture: Douyin via WeChat)

Indebted tech founder makes US$15 million by selling through live streaming

Luo Yonghao, founder of smartphone maker Smartisan, saw 48 million people tune in to watch him sell products on the Chinese version of TikTok

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

How do you repay millions of dollars of debt left after your smartphone company falters? In China, you can turn to selling products through live streaming.

Last year, founder of smartphone maker Smartisan, Luo Yonghao, found himself banned from planes and high speed trains after landing himself on China’s notorious debtor blacklist. But Luo promised to repay his debts and seems to have found a perfect way out: Live streaming on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. During his live streaming debut, the fallen entrepreneur made more than 110 million yuan (US$15.5 million) with 48 million people tuning in to watch him sell 22 different products, local media reported.
Ironically, one of the products Luo sold during his three-hour streaming session on Wednesday was the latest flagship from former competitor Xiaomi, the Mi 10. The flamboyant founder became famous in China for his outrageous claims that included bashing Xiaomi and Apple. Luo, however, may still have to do more live streaming sessions to repay his debt, but at least he’s not on the blacklist anymore. His company Smartisan made a deal to transfer some of its patents and employees to TikTok owner ByteDance, enabling the tech giant to launch the so-called TikTok phone.

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