1. From Zero to “Smart-Home Hero”: Discover how a software engineer with no hardware experience defied the odds to build a billion-dollar robotics company, challenging industry giants like iRobot.
  2. The Xiaomi Effect: Learn how a strategic partnership with tech giant Xiaomi propelled Roborock to early success, but ultimately led to a bold decision to forge its own path.
  3. Conquering the World, One Home at a Time: Explore Roborock’s strategic global expansion, focusing on markets where innovation trumps cutthroat pricing, and its formula for winning over consumers worldwide.
  4. Innovation is in their DNA: Uncover the technological advances and relentless pursuit of improvement that sets Roborock apart, from its pioneering use of laser navigation to its obsession with user-centric design.
  5. Beyond the Robot Vacuum: Get a glimpse into Roborock’s ambitious plans for the future, as it expands beyond cleaning solutions to create a comprehensive smart home ecosystem.
  6. The Future of Clean is Here: Roborock is not just changing how we clean, but redefining our relationship with our homes. Explore the exciting possibilities of a future where intelligent devices seamlessly blend into our lives.

The 21st century has ushered in an era of unprecedented technological advancement, with smart devices rapidly transforming our homes and lives. Among the most sought-after innovations are those that promise to simplify our daily routines, freeing up valuable time and energy. At the forefront of this revolution is the smart home market, projected to reach a staggering $313.95 billion by 2026, driven by an increasing desire for convenience, efficiency, and connectivity within our living spaces.

Within this booming market, smart cleaning solutions have emerged as a dominant force, capturing the imagination of consumers worldwide. Leading the charge is Roborock, a company synonymous with intelligent robotic vacuum cleaners. Founded in 2014, Roborock has swiftly climbed the ranks to become a global force in the industry, garnering a reputation for cutting-edge technology, sleek design, and a relentless focus on user experience. Its impressive market performance is a testament to its success, with millions of units sold worldwide and a brand recognition that rivals industry veterans.

But Roborock’s journey is far from a tale of overnight success. Behind its meteoric rise lies a story of audacious ambition, unwavering determination, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the realm of smart home technology. It’s a story that begins not in a bustling tech hub, but with a simple desire to solve a common household chore: cleaning.

Humble Beginnings: From Software to Hardware

At the heart of Roborock’s success story is its founder, Chang Jing, a man whose journey embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of innovation and resilience. Born in 1982, Chang’s path was not one paved with privilege or instant recognition. He was, in many ways, an ordinary man navigating the realities of life in a rapidly evolving China. Armed with a sharp intellect and a passion for technology, Chang pursued a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the prestigious South China University of Technology, graduating in 2006.

Chang Jing, the founder of Roborock Tech

His early career followed a familiar trajectory for a bright software engineer, beginning with a role as a technical manager at Beijing Aoyou, a prominent internet security company. A year later, he joined the ranks of Microsoft, honing his skills as a program manager, before moving on to Tencent, the tech giant behind WeChat, where he served as a senior product manager. These experiences exposed him to the inner workings of major tech companies, instilling in him a deep understanding of product development, user experience, and the power of software.

However, the entrepreneurial bug had already bitten Chang. In 2011, while still at Tencent, he took the plunge and co-founded his first venture, Beijing Magic Map Elf Technology Co., a mobile photo-editing app that foreshadowed his future success. The company was later acquired by Baidu, China’s search engine behemoth, where Chang continued to refine his expertise, eventually leading product development for Baidu Maps.

It was during his time at Baidu that Chang’s fascination with the potential of AI and robotics began to take root. He envisioned a future where intelligent machines seamlessly integrated into daily life, simplifying mundane tasks and enhancing human capabilities. This vision, however, was met with skepticism when he first shared his idea for a robotic vacuum cleaner company.

Investors, hesitant to back a software developer venturing into the uncharted territory of hardware, initially dismissed Chang’s ambitions. Undeterred, he knew he needed a compelling prototype to prove his vision and secure the necessary funding. Gathering a small team of like-minded engineers, many of whom had also honed their skills at Microsoft, Chang set up shop in a small office and got to work.

The early days were marked by long hours, countless iterations, and a relentless pursuit of perfection. After weeks of tireless effort, they had a functional prototype, a testament to their ingenuity and a symbol of Chang’s unwavering belief in the project. This prototype would prove to be a turning point, catching the attention of a key player in China’s burgeoning tech scene: Xiaomi.

Xiaomi, known for its disruptive approach to consumer electronics and its vast ecosystem of partner companies, saw the potential in Chang’s vision and the dedication of his team. They offered Roborock a lifeline: early-stage funding and access to their extensive supply chains and manufacturing expertise. This partnership would prove to be a game-changer, propelling Roborock from a fledgling startup to a rising star in the smart home market.

Riding the Xiaomi Wave: Early Success and the Importance of Partnerships

Armed with Xiaomi’s backing and guided by Chang Jing’s vision, Roborock embarked on the development of its debut product. The goal was clear: to create a robotic vacuum cleaner that was not only technologically superior to existing models but also accessible to a wider market. The result was the Mi Home Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaner, a product that would redefine expectations and propel Roborock into the spotlight.

Launched in September 2016, the Mi Home Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaner, often referred to as the “Mi 1,” was a game-changer in the industry. It boasted a suite of innovative features, most notably its Laser Distance Sensor (LDS) technology. This sophisticated navigation system, a rarity in affordable robot vacuums at the time, allowed the Mi 1 to map its surroundings and plan efficient cleaning paths, a significant leap forward from the random bumping navigation prevalent in many competing models.

Beyond its technological prowess, the Mi 1’s strategic pricing proved to be a masterstroke. Priced at an astonishingly affordable 1699 RMB (approximately $270), it undercut competitors by a significant margin, making smart cleaning technology accessible to a vast new market segment. This aggressive pricing strategy, a hallmark of Xiaomi’s business model, was instrumental in driving rapid adoption and establishing a strong foothold for Roborock in the burgeoning smart home market.

Xiaomi’s influence extended far beyond its initial investment. The tech giant’s brand recognition, built upon its reputation for high-quality, affordable products, provided instant credibility to the fledgling Roborock. Moreover, Xiaomi’s extensive online and offline distribution channels, encompassing a vast network of retail stores and e-commerce platforms, ensured the Mi 1 reached a massive audience virtually overnight.

This synergistic partnership, however, was not without its challenges. Roborock, with its roots firmly planted in software development, faced a steep learning curve in the world of hardware manufacturing. This was particularly evident in the development of the robot vacuum’s gearbox, a critical component responsible for regulating motor speed and torque.

Lacking prior experience in gearbox design and production, Roborock initially underestimated the complexities involved. Early attempts to develop the gearbox in-house proved to be time-consuming and costly, draining valuable resources and threatening to derail the entire project. It was a stark reminder that building hardware, unlike software, came with its own set of unique challenges.

Recognizing the need for external expertise, Roborock turned to its network of partners, seeking guidance and support. Xiaomi, once again, played a crucial role, leveraging its relationship with Shanghai Hebei, a key supplier in its smartphone manufacturing chain and, crucially, a company with experience in producing robot vacuums for iRobot. Hebei, in turn, pointed Roborock towards Vigor Precision, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer renowned for its high-precision plastic gears and, importantly, a key supplier for iRobot’s Roomba line of robot vacuums.

Securing a partnership with Vigor Precision, however, proved to be a delicate dance. Bound by exclusivity agreements with iRobot, Vigor was initially reluctant to supply a potential competitor. It took the combined persuasive power of Xiaomi and Hebei to convince Vigor that collaborating with Roborock would be mutually beneficial, ultimately opening doors for the young company to tap into a world-class supply chain.

This episode underscored a critical lesson for Roborock: strategic partnerships were not just beneficial but essential for navigating the complexities of hardware development and production. This realization extended beyond component manufacturing. Recognizing the need to bolster its in-house hardware expertise, Roborock began actively recruiting talent from established players in the robotics field, including former iRobot employees.

The arrival of these seasoned engineers, well-versed in the intricacies of robot vacuum design and manufacturing, proved to be invaluable. They brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, helping Roborock overcome technical hurdles, refine its designs, and establish robust manufacturing processes. This infusion of expertise, coupled with the company’s existing software prowess, laid the foundation for a future of innovation and growth.

Charting a New Course: The Decision to Build a Standalone Brand

The Mi 1’s success was a double-edged sword for Roborock. While it catapulted the company into the limelight and demonstrated its technological prowess, it also highlighted the inherent limitations of operating within Xiaomi’s ecosystem. The “Mi” branding, while advantageous in leveraging Xiaomi’s established reputation, ultimately overshadowed Roborock’s own identity.

Moreover, the Xiaomi model, with its emphasis on aggressive pricing and razor-thin profit margins, left little room for Roborock to reinvest in research and development or build its own brand equity. This realization sparked a crucial question within the company: could Roborock achieve its full potential, both creatively and commercially, while remaining tethered to its benefactor?

The answer, increasingly, seemed to be no. Chang Jing, driven by an ambition that extended beyond contract manufacturing, envisioned Roborock as a global brand synonymous with innovation and excellence in smart home technology. This vision necessitated a bold move: to step out from under Xiaomi’s shadow and chart a course as an independent company.

This decision, however, was not without its risks. Competing directly with Xiaomi in the Chinese market, where brand loyalty and price sensitivity reigned supreme, was deemed a perilous path. Instead, Roborock turned its attention overseas, eyeing a global stage where its focus on quality, innovation, and design could shine through.

Europe, with its tech-savvy consumers and a growing appetite for premium smart home appliances, emerged as an ideal launching pad. This strategic decision was driven by several factors. First, the European market was less price-sensitive than China, allowing Roborock to command higher margins and reinvest in its growth. Second, the competitive landscape, while not without its challenges, lacked a single dominant player with the same market share as iRobot enjoyed in the US.

Navigating the US market, the holy grail for many smart home companies, presented a unique set of hurdles. iRobot, with its Roomba line of robot vacuums, held a commanding lead, fiercely guarding its market share and intellectual property. Engaging in a head-to-head battle with a well-established incumbent, particularly in a market known for its litigious nature, was deemed too risky at this early stage.

Roborock’s overseas expansion was built upon a two-pronged approach: forging strategic partnerships with established cross-border e-commerce platforms and cultivating direct relationships with key retailers. This strategy allowed Roborock to rapidly expand its reach while minimizing upfront costs and navigating the complexities of international logistics and distribution.

On the e-commerce front, Roborock strategically aligned itself with platforms like Amazon, leveraging its global reach and established customer base. This partnership proved particularly fruitful in Europe, where Amazon held a dominant position in the online retail landscape. Roborock’s sleek product designs and impressive online reviews quickly resonated with consumers, establishing a strong foothold for the brand.

In parallel, Roborock recognized the importance of building relationships with brick-and-mortar retailers, particularly in key European markets. This involved attending industry trade shows, engaging with local distributors, and securing shelf space in electronics and appliance stores. This multi-faceted approach, combining the reach of online platforms with the trust and tangibility of physical retail, proved highly effective in building brand awareness and driving sales.

Navigating Challenges and Embracing Innovation: The Road to Becoming “Roborock”

Stepping out from the shadow of a tech giant like Xiaomi, however advantageous the initial partnership may have been, is akin to a bird taking its first flight after leaving the nest. There’s an undeniable vulnerability, a sense of venturing into the unknown, that comes with establishing a brand in a market already teeming with established players and ambitious newcomers. This was the challenge that Roborock willingly embraced as it embarked on its journey to become a globally recognized name in the smart home arena.

The competitive landscape of the robotic vacuum cleaner market was, and remains, fierce. Industry veterans like iRobot had a decades-long head start, their brand names practically synonymous with the product itself. Cheaper alternatives flooded online marketplaces, tempting budget-conscious consumers with promises of functionality over finesse. Roborock, if it were to carve its own niche, needed more than just a good product; it needed a distinct identity rooted in technological innovation and an unwavering commitment to user experience.

Chang Jing, true to his engineering roots, recognized that true differentiation in a market increasingly driven by feature parity lay in mastering the software that breathed intelligence into the hardware. This meant going beyond simply incorporating off-the-shelf components and instead investing heavily in developing proprietary algorithms and software that would set Roborock’s products apart.

This strategy manifested in several key areas. Roborock’s engineers meticulously refined the algorithms governing its robots’ navigation and mapping capabilities. Obstacle avoidance, a constant source of frustration for early adopters of robotic vacuums, became a focal point. The company’s products consistently ranked high in independent tests for their ability to deftly maneuver around furniture, avoid getting tangled in cords, and intelligently navigate complex layouts.

Roborock’s commitment to innovation extended beyond navigation. Understanding that a truly smart home device should seamlessly integrate into a user’s life, not complicate it, the company placed significant emphasis on user interface and app design. Features like room-specific cleaning schedules, customizable suction power, and the ability to set virtual boundaries, all easily controlled through a user-friendly app, became hallmarks of the Roborock experience.

This focus on continuous improvement and addressing user needs was evident in the company’s product roadmap. Each new generation of robot vacuum brought with it incremental but significant upgrades. The Roborock S5 Max, for example, introduced the much-lauded “Selective Room Cleaning” feature, allowing users to target specific rooms or areas for cleaning, a feature that quickly became an industry standard. The S6 MaxV, with its dual-camera system capable of recognizing and avoiding common household obstacles like shoes and pet waste, further demonstrated the company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what a robot vacuum could achieve.

However, Roborock’s ambitions extended beyond simply perfecting the robotic vacuum cleaner. Recognizing the interconnected nature of the smart home, the company began to envision an ecosystem of intelligent devices working in harmony to simplify daily life. This vision was reflected in the company’s expansion into new product categories, most notably the Roborock H1, a lightweight cordless stick vacuum designed to complement its robot vacuums, extending the “Roborock clean” to areas beyond the reach of its wheeled counterparts.

This move into new product categories was not simply about diversification for its own sake. It stemmed from a deep understanding of evolving user needs and a desire to provide comprehensive solutions for the smart home. Roborock’s foray into handheld vacuums leveraged its existing expertise in motor design, battery technology, and user-centric design principles, ensuring a cohesive user experience across its product portfolio.

Roborock’s journey, however, is far from over. The smart home market, much like the technology that drives it, is in a constant state of evolution. New challenges and opportunities emerge with each passing year, demanding adaptability, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to exceeding consumer expectations. As Roborock continues to navigate this dynamic landscape, one thing remains clear: its relentless pursuit of intelligent solutions for the home, coupled with its dedication to building a brand synonymous with quality and innovation, ensures its place at the forefront of the smart home revolution for years to come.

Conclusion: Looking Ahead to a Future of Intelligent Living

Roborock’s journey, from a humble startup fueled by a software engineer’s ambition to a globally recognized brand synonymous with intelligent cleaning, is a testament to the transformative power of vision, innovation, and strategic partnerships. Chang Jing’s unwavering belief in the potential of robotics to revolutionize the way we live, coupled with his pragmatic approach to navigating the complexities of the hardware industry, has propelled Roborock to the forefront of the smart home revolution.

The company’s success story is inextricably linked to its ability to adapt and evolve in a dynamic market. Its early partnership with Xiaomi provided a crucial springboard, granting access to resources and expertise that would have been difficult to acquire independently. However, recognizing the limitations of this arrangement, Roborock strategically charted its own course, establishing a distinct brand identity and pursuing global expansion with laser focus.

As the smart home market continues its exponential growth, the demand for intelligent cleaning solutions shows no signs of abating. Consumers, increasingly seeking ways to simplify their lives and reclaim precious time, are embracing robotic vacuum cleaners and other smart home appliances that promise to automate mundane tasks. This trend is poised to accelerate as AI and robotics technologies mature, leading to even more sophisticated and capable devices.

Roborock, however, cannot afford to rest on its laurels. The smart home landscape is fiercely competitive, with established players and ambitious startups vying for market share. To maintain its leading position, Roborock must continue to innovate, anticipating and exceeding consumer expectations. This requires ongoing investment in research and development, a relentless focus on user experience, and a willingness to explore new product categories that align with its vision of intelligent living.

The company’s recent forays into product lines beyond robotic vacuum cleaners, such as the Roborock H1 handheld vacuum and the S7 MaxV Ultra with its self-emptying dock, demonstrate its commitment to expanding its ecosystem of smart home solutions. This diversification strategy, while not without its challenges, holds the key to unlocking new growth opportunities and solidifying Roborock’s position as a comprehensive smart home brand.

Challenges remain on the horizon. Maintaining a delicate balance between expanding its product portfolio and preserving its core competency in intelligent cleaning will be crucial. Additionally, navigating the complex web of international regulations, supply chain dynamics, and evolving consumer preferences will require agility and foresight.

Despite these challenges, Roborock’s future appears bright. The company’s unwavering focus on innovation, coupled with its strong leadership team and proven track record of execution, positions it favorably to capitalize on the immense growth potential of the smart home market. As homes become increasingly connected and intelligent, Roborock is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of how we live, clean, and interact with our living spaces. The quiet hum of a Roborock navigating a living room floor may well become the soundtrack to a future where technology seamlessly enhances our lives, freeing us to focus on what truly matters.


  1. https://m.cyzone.cn/article/575739
  2. https://www.sohu.com/a/523112607_100299860

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