The China Startup Pulse Podcast
Your Looking Glass into China and Asia Startup Ecosystem
The China Startup Pulse Podcast is an original weekly podcast for anyone interested interested in China’s innovation, business, and tech landscape. We showcase entrepreneurial stories, present key teachings from thought leaders, and analyze the strategy of the big tech giants.
Backed by Chinaccelerator, the first accelerator in Asia, we understand firsthand what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in China — the struggle, the elation, the craziness, and the thrill of success. With that in mind, this podcast offers real, practical, and outside-of-the-box insights.
The China Startup Pulse is hosted by Oscar Ramos, Ryan Shuken and William Bao Bean, hackers and hustlers with years of experience in China’s startup scene.
Partner at SOSV and Managing Director at Chinaccelerator
William Bao Bean
General Partner at SOSV and Managing Director at Chinaccelerator & MOX
Managing Partner at Lean Venture Partners & Javelin.com
How Snapask Started with a Facebook Page, with Founder Timothy Yu
You don’t need to code to launch a unicorn startup. Through a non-code or low-code MVP (Minimum Viable Product), entrepreneurs can easily validate the assumptions, understand customers’ real pain points and test whether the business model will work or not. That simple lesson is ignored by many founders and is behind the failure of countless business initatives. Today’s guest Timothy Yu, founder and CEO of Snapask, an on-demand tutoring platform labeled as “Uber for Tutors” which just raised $35M in Series B, did not know about low fidelity prototyping. But he used the concept before he went through the SOSV Chinaccelerator’s Batch 8 program.
In today’s conversation, Tim will share how the company has grown from a simple Facebook page to an arising edtech company with over 100 employees, operating in 8 Asian markets and reaching almost 300million users. Tim will also give us a deep analysis on its two users – tutors and users and the data-driven strategies to acquire and retain both of them. Is technology shaping the future education industry? “How people can attain the ability of self-learning and apply them in life is going to be one of the most important skills in the future”, this is what Timothy believes and what Snapask is trying to offer.
Enabling Smart Cities: The Tech in the Driver’s Seat with Bruce Bateman, Chief Technical Advisor at Lite-On Technology
Rapid urbanization and population concentration are challenges for many cities, especially in Asia’s fast-growing economies. Technology and data are helping to make our cities more efficient and sustainable. We are building smart cities, which integrate technologies to optimize every aspect that impacts every individual’s life, from waste management, utilities, transportation, education, food access and more. Today’s guest Bruce Bateman is a technology veteran, a serial CEO and CTO, who has seen the technology from hardware to new media, or the most advanced networking protocols. He has been involved in the launch of nine startups.
Today, he is leading the drive for Smart City technologies as Chief Technical Advisor at Lite-On Technology, a leading player in the smart city space. In this episode, Bruce will talk about how he helps city planners deploy the appropriate technologies to build smart cities, specifically in terms of transportation, education, and aging populations. Bruce will also share the role of technology and why solving real problems is something that really matters. “It won’t happen without involving people”, this is why Bruce is more willing to call them “smart communities” rather than “smart cities”.
How to Recruit and Manage A Strong Startup Team with Lucas Englehardt, Serial Entrepreneur with Successful Exits
There is no such a thing as a solo entrepreneur and the fast growth of startups requires strong teams to execute. Based on our experience, not having the right team is one of the top reasons why startups fail. This leads to the frequently asked questions: How to attract the right candidates? How to keep team morale high when things are not following the plan? And how to help talent develop to work efficiently? Today we talk with serial entrepreneur Lucas Englehardt, who founded O2O food delivery startup Waimaichaoren in 2012. After successfully scaling the business to 18 cities, he finally exited the company to Delivery Hero in 2016.
Having managed a company with 400 employees, Lucas will talk about his secrets in people management, especially for sales teams. Besides the best practices, he will also shared some of the hard learn lessons, such as hiring someone who did not fit in the team culture. As an early explorer in the food delivery space in China as a foreigner, Lucas also took us back to the early days when he just got into the industry and describe the creative strategies used to acquire clients. He will go deeper to explain how he found the need to change the team mindset about “Experimentation”, “Copying” and “Failing fast”.
Gamification is Not Copying Games with Monte Singman, iDreamSky Technology
“Most of the gamification activities happening in the market are superficial” This is a statement from today’s guest Monte Singman, a game veteran with 33-year industry experience. So what’s the real meaning of gamification? How should people include game dynamics into products? Monte has an insider and interesting point of view about games and gamification.
In today’s episode, he will address the importance of fun, a key element for the successful gamification which is sometimes overlooked. And the best stage for gamification is when users feel comfortable to spend the time without restrictions. Currently Monte is the VP of international business development at iDreamSky Technology, one of the largest independent mobile game publishing platforms in China, and he has brought over 100 mobile games into Chinese markets. We will also talk about his business path from Silicon Valley to China and the technology that he believes will change the game industry.
The Go-to-Market Playbook by NIU: a NASDAQ-listed Chinese Smart E-Scooter Company
Today we talk about the global mobility industry with Joseph Constanty, Director of International at NIU Technologies, a Chinese company that produces and sells lithium powered two-wheeler scooters. Starting from Zero in 2014, NIU has sold over 810,000 vehicles worldwide and continued their international expansion in 34 countries. NIU also went public on NASDAQ in 2018 which is only 4 years after it was founded. Why is e-scooter a good solution for urban transportation problems? How did they get started and what’s the reason behind its fast growth?
In today’s conversation, we will address these questions and also talk about how NIU uses data to improve the hardware products and user experience. Stay tuned until the end where we will take a deep look at their unique go-to-market approaches.
Localizing in the Mobile-Only China Market, with David Chen, CEO & Co-founder of Strikingly
When entering new markets, it is crucial to be able to localize the business. There are few startups that have achieved this and one of them is Strikingly – a Series B startup that helps non-coders or designers build beautiful websites that work on both mobile and desktop. In today’s episode, we are happy to have David Chen, CEO and Co-founder of Strikingly to join our podcast China Startup Pulse.
David quitted Goldman Sachs and founded Strikingly in the US, which later became the first company to join Y Combinator. After noticing the opportunities in China, David and his team moved the company to China where he has successfully localized the business and continued to serve the global users. He shared how they have established a strong local presence in China, in terms of product features, marketing channels, and even a Chinese company name. Read full show notes.
B2B Sales Strategies and Tactics with Jonathan Wu, VP of Sales and Co-founder of GrowingIO
Selling your product to businesses is tough. Today, we talk to Jonathan Wu, Co-founder and VP of Sales of a fast-growing B2B SaaS Company GrowingIO, to share with you the most advanced B2B sales strategies based on his experience. GrowingIO is a leading data analytics platform provider in China that helps drive business growth through data insights. Their current clients include Bytedance, China Mobile, Tujia, Didi and more.
He shared very useful strategies and tactics on how to close B2B deals and how to understand clients’ pain points of adoption. As he pointed out, it’s very important to understand your clients, your product and user journey, and also to remember to talk to the decision makers. Later, he used GrowingIO as an example to explain how to classify products for different types of clients, and how GrowingIO has scaled the sales team in the past 5 years. Read full show notes.
How to Prevent PR Crisis in China, with Alex Duncan, co-founder of KAWO
Social media is one of the most influential means of communication in the world. It helps brands to engage with customers quickly and effectively. However, it also brings potential risks.
Social media management platform KAWO recently published a report analyzing social media crises in China during the last 10 years. It shows that there were 42 brands crises in 2019 in China, while only 1 incident happened each year from 2009 to 2013. Geographic sovereignty and politics are apparently the dominant causes for these crises. We invited Alex Duncan, co-founder of KAWO, in today’s podcast to share his insights about the report, how to manage social media in China, and most importantly how to prevent PR crisis. Find KAWO’s report here: kawo.com/bcr Read full show notes.
Applying Design Thinking to Launch an IoT Product with Alvin Chiang, Founder of Gululu
Design thinking. Lean startup methodology. Validation. Market Research. These concepts are familiar to every founder, and they are vital to any company’s success, but so few startups are able to do them well. Today’s guest, Alvin Chiang, is an exception. A veteran of internet giants NetEase, Alibaba, and Renren, Alvin founded Gululu in 2014. Gululu enhances children’s wellness through smart IoT technologies, and their first creation is a smart water bottle designed to help children cultivate healthy habits. In this episode, we discuss the extensive market research that went into the birth of Gululu and the ongoing development of the product. During the course of the conversation, we were thrilled to discover that Gululu is a perfect use case for design thinking. Read full show notes.
What’s Next for Ctrip (Trip.com Group) with Margaret Feng, Head of Innovation
The growth of online travel users and transactions in China has slowed in the past two years. Has the online travel market hit a bottleneck? Where will the next opportunities arise? As one of the industry titans, Trip.com Group (formerly known as Ctrip) is at the forefront of experimenting with new initiatives to maintain its competitive position in the market.
As Head of Innovation at Trip.com Group, Margaret Feng, shares how they are exploring new offline products and planning how to acquire more customers in lower-tier cities. More importantly, she explains how Trip.com Group is embracing the concept of open innovation by investing in and collaborating with startups. Stay tuned to learn how Trip.com Group runs pilot programs with startups and tests new concepts and technologies in the market. Read full show notes.
How to Understand Venture Capital in China with Victor Chao, Partner at SAIF
What factors are RMB investors considering that USD investors are not? What can the difference between Chinese VC firms and American VC firms tell us about the innovation and entrepreneurship lanscape in these countries? As venture capital funding slows down in China, how is this affecting entrepreneurs?
We are lucky to have the perfect person to answer these questions: Victor Chao, Partner of the RMB fund at SAIF, a leading private equity firm in China. Victor has lived and worked all over the world, and so he has a great perspective on how understanding VCs can help us understand the state of innovation in a country. Read full show notes.
How to Succeed in China B2B with Olivier d’Arros, Investor and Serial Entrepreneur
Navigating the world of B2B in China is tough business, especially when you are dealing with giant state-owned enterprises. It can be even more difficult when you are foreigner. As a result, most foreign entrepreneurs focus on the B2C space, yet a few have found the key to creating successful B2B companies.
One of these businesspeople is today’s guest, Olivier d’Arros. Olivier started his career in venture capital, and then co-founded 4 technology companies, all in B2B applications. He is now Managing Partner at MAVIE Technologies, an investment banking boutique with a focus on cross-border transactions in healthtech and industry 4.0.Read full show notes.
How China’s Beating the West in Innovation with Richard Turrin, FinTech expert, author of “Innovation Lab Excellence” and former head of IBM’s Cognitive Studio
To many people in the West, China is thought of as a copyer rather than an innovator. However, according to today’s guest Richard Turrin, there are many areas in which China is out-innovating even the most advanced Western countries. Richard says “Innovation is really about people and how they relate to new technologies,” and in China both companies and people develop and adopt new technologies at an astonishing rate—they are “some of the best users of technology on the planet.”
This innovation isn’t only happening on the tech side, but also in the corporate space. Richard is the former head of IBM’s Cognitive Studio and author of the book ‘Innovation Lab Excellence’, with over 20 years experience in innovation in both China and the West. During this conversation, he also shares insights on why innovation labs become ineffective. Big corporates all around the world are spending massive amounts of resources to connect with startups. Yet, there are still doubts about the tangible impact of many innovation labs. Read full show notes.
Investigating Live Streaming with Hao Wu, Award-Winning Documentary Filmmaker
Every technology has a human impact. Live streaming is certainly no exception. In China, live streaming platforms have connected millions of viewers with a small number of idols who receive massive amounts of donations—but at what personal cost? Hao Wu, knows more about the societal impact of live streaming than anyone else on the planet. In his award-winning documentary, People’s Republic of Desire, he explores why live streaming has been so successful in China and examines the effect that these platforms have on both viewers and creators. In this episode, Hao Wu and Chinaccelerator Managing Director Oscar Ramos cover all aspects of live streaming: from the business models and the future prospects of the industry, to the social consequences of this technology. Read full show notes.