Zhou Qunfei was born in 1970 in Xiangxiang, Hunan province, China, the youngest of three children in a poor family. Before she was born, her Father, a former soldier, became partially blinded and lost a finger in an industrial accident in the 1960s. A skilled craftsman, he supported the family by making bamboo baskets and chairs and repairing bicycles. Her mother died when she was five. As a child she helped her family raise animals for sustenance and small profit. Although she was the only one out of her siblings to attend secondary school and showed promise as a bright student, she dropped out at age 16 and moved in with her uncle's family to become a migrant worker in Shenzhen, the special economic zone in Guangdong province. While she briefly considered pursuing a government job for its stability, she discarded the idea as lacking a diploma would make it difficult to do so.
When the factory folded, she established her own company in 1993 at age 22, with her savings of HK$20,000 (~USD$3,000). It was her cousin who encouraged her to start on her own Business, and the company began with her brother, sister, their spouses, and two cousins all working out of a three bedroom apartment. The company appealed to customers by promising higher-quality watch lenses. Here, Zhang took a hands on approach and involved herself in all parts of the company, including repairs and creating improved designs of factory machinery. In 2001, she caught her big break when her company won a profitable contract to make mobile phone screens for the Chinese electronics giant TCL Corporation.
Following this, Zhou Qunfei started touch-screen maker Lens Technology (named so that it would turn up to potential customers searching "lens" online) in 2003 and the company soon received orders from other mobile-phone makers such as HTC, Nokia, and Samsung Electronics. After producing the touch screens for Apple's iPhone during its 2007 market entry, Lens developed into the dominant player of the industry. Lens Technology now primarily supplies touch-screens to leading electronics makers such as Apple, Samsung, and Huawei, receiving nearly 75% of its revenue from Apple and Samsung. The Apple Watch uses her company's glass and Sapphire crystal screens. As of April 2015, the company employs about 60,000 people, was expected to churn out more than a billion glass screens, and has 32 different factory locations.
Zhou Qunfei married her former factory boss, had a daughter, and divorced. Her daughter is currently studying overseas. In 2008, she married Zheng Junlong (郑俊龙), a longtime factory colleague who currently serves on the Lens board and has a 1.4% shareholding in the company. They have a seven-year-old son who lives at their Hong Kong family home. The family owns a $27 million estate in Hong Kong.
During Lens' 2015 IPO offering, Zhou's (who holds 87.9% of the shares, a $7.2 billion stake as of July 2015) net worth rose 452%, dethroning Chen Lihua as China's richest woman. She also holds the position of the world's richest self made woman, and is one of the richest women in the Technology sector.
Additionally, Zhou is on Forbes lists as #61 in 2016 Power Women, #205 in 2016 Billionaires (#9 out of Hong Kong billionaires), #18 in 2015 China Rich List, and #30 in 2015 richest in Tech. Fortune ranked her #18 on their 2016 Most Powerful Women of Asia-Pacific list, and she is a newcomer to the list. Bloomberg has ranked her as #211 out of the world's billionaires.