Michel Haese's first visit to Shenzhen was purely a coincidence.
What was more unexpected for the 55-year old German was that this Chinese city would help make his childhood dream come true.
DREAMLAND FOR START-UPS
When he was a kid, Haese loved to build things with whatever he could find -- cans, lids, ribbons, motors, lamps, batteries. Growing up, he tried being a radioman, a photographer, but he never abandoned his dream of becoming an inventor.
Haese first heard about Shenzhen as a special economic zone in China more than 20 years ago at the world's largest computer expo in Hannover, Germany.
In 2011, Haese planned to visit a traditional electronic fair in Hong Kong, but a friend of his dragged him to another one. There he met some Chinese entrepreneurs who later invited him to travel to the southeastern Chinese metropolis to see their factories.
"Shenzhen is a paradise for development," he said. "If you have any requirements or needs for new electronics, I go downstairs and I can find them." He was referring to Huaqiangbei, one of the world's largest and most bustling electronics markets packed with small shops selling all kinds of electronic gadgets.
Haese is now the chief executive officer of his own start-up in Shenzhen. His primary invention, the "Lapscreen," is more of a notion than a product. With a Lapscreen, one can project all the functions of a smartphone onto an A4-paper-sized portable full-HD monitor, like typing a story or watching a movie. With it, Haese hopes to share his "portable office" idea with willing partners from the whole world.
Haese is certainly not the only dream chaser who regards this mega city as his ultimate destination.
Cyril Ebersweiler is the co-founder of HAX Accelerator, a seed accelerator focused on hardware start-ups based in Shenzhen and San Francisco. Together with 10 hardware firms, the 38-year-old Frenchman founded HAX in a garage in Shenzhen in 2011.
"One thing we discovered while leveraging the supply chain for these start-ups was that Shenzhen was a good place to prototype -- and not just consumer electronics hardware, but also extremely complex hardware for the health, robotics, and fabrication spaces," he told Xinhua.
For six years, HAX has sought to speed up business ideas from 3D printers to drones, as well as other consumer product devices for more than 145 start-up companies. It offers guidance and expertise from start to finish.
Every year, Ebersweiler brings teams whose members come from all over the world, more than half of them from the United States or Europe, to Shenzhen. "What we had to develop at the time was an effective way for them to be operating in China," he said.