Efficiency startup penetrates deep inside Chinese factories

Most students of Chinese and Asian studies at The George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs do not parlay their degrees into stints as factory workers in Chinese manufacturing facilities. But then, most students of Chinese and Asian studies are not Taryn Sullivan.

Thirty-year-old Sullivan is the founder of Efficiency Exchange (EEx), a software developer that in September released its first product, an energy management system designed to help Chinese factory managers cut waste and boost efficiencies. The product was many years in the making, insofar as it grew from Sullivan’s experiences working with Chinese factories, first as a sourcing specialist for Ohio-based house-wares catalog company Improvements and later in a similar role with Pacific Trade International, a wholesale manufacturer for big box stores such as Target and Walmart. But before launching EEx, Sullivan decided to experience Chinese factories from the other side of the business.

“I worked every factory job, from incoming quality inspections, to running an ERP [enterprise resource planning software], to soldering PC boards on an electronics production line, to stamping, to metal work. I did it all because I needed to see where all the data was and how you can capture that, and most importantly, how to use that to make these jobs easier, more efficient and help the factories save money,” Sullivan says.