Kate Wang, Her Empire of Over 5 Billion Dollars

Kate Wang, Her Empire of Over 5 Billion Dollars

According to Forbes, CEO Kate Wang became a self-made billionaire in three years after creating her vaping company RLX.

According to Forbes, CEO Kate Wang became a self-made billionaire in three years after creating her vaping company RLX.

RLX is a leading e-cigarette manufacturer and retailer in China. The very young company was founded in 2018 by Kate Wang.

In the early 2010s, she got an MBA at the Columbia Business School. Upon graduation, Wang spent a couple of years working at consulting firm Bain & Company. Then, she took a job as a general manager at Uber China, according to WSM Research.

Before becoming one of the world's wealthiest women with her own business, Wang worked at Didi Chuxing. This last one was also a vaping company that later was absorbed by RLX Technology, in which Wang learned several of the things that helped her defeat one of her biggest competitors on the market. Her initial idea was to create a solution to avoid cigarettes' smell, something that came to her mind as an active smoker. That's why she founded her company, along with five colleagues, including Wen Yilong, also from Didi's team.

In 2018, Wang quit her job to found her own electronic cigarette company: RLX. The CEO was motivated to do this because, as a kid, she witnessed her father struggle to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. Wang also knew a colleague's father die from lung cancer after years of smoking.

According to a study titled "Tobacco and the lung cancer epidemic in China," by Parascandola M, Xiao L, currently, in China, 28% of the population smokes tobacco, leading to over 600.000 deaths a year from lung cancer.

However, e-cigarettes are not risk-free. The UK's National Health Service found that they carry only a significantly small fraction of traditional cigarettes' risk as they do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful tobacco elements.


In 2019, just one year after the business was founded, RLX already had 60% of the Chinese market share of closed system electronic cigarettes. However, this country's government has banned the sale of e-cigarettes via online channels, so Wang's company sells its products through physical retail locations, which are made to look sleek and resemble luxury cosmetic stores, thus attracting wealthy customers.

RLX currently has over 1.400 stores globally, the majority of which are located in China. Most of them are run by third-party operators.

Wang looks forward to opening 10.000 new stores over the next three years, revealing its massive expansion plans.

When Kate Wang was named one of the 57 self-made women billionaires from China, Forbes assured that "Wang was worth $9.1 billion on the day of the IPO, thanks to her 20% stake in RLX." Now she has a net worth of $2.9 billion, which, according to her, doesn't bother her at all.

RLX invests primarily in sales and marketing, which also helped them quickly position themselves in the market. There's no doubt that Wang's talent and confidence have come very far, making her company one of the richest in the world.

The CEO told Forbes, "It's not an easy job. I have a lot to learn, and I have a gap to close."

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