November 8, 2016, marks my one-year anniversary of residing in Beijing. I look back to reflect my journey in the P.R.C. I’m grateful for my connections who have helped me settling into a new city and understanding the local culture.
Fresh off the plane
- With two suitcases, I parachuted in Beijing from Hong Kong to join a media startup’s founding team. Thanks to my college friend Andrew Buck, I rented his spare bedroom initially until I found my apartment a month later.
I shot most of the visual images in this The Wall Street Journal video report.
As China’s ride-hailing industry faces tougher regulations, local tech firms and venture capitalists are eyeing a two-wheeled business instead of four. Photo: Wendy Tang for The Wall Street Journal
According to my Didi Chuxing ride-hailing record, I have only encountered two female drivers out of 30 rides in the last few months in Beijing. I jumped on the back of a red Nissan Cima one Sunday afternoon and caught a glimpse of a female Didi driver’s life.
China has long faced a gender imbalance with the country traditionally favors sons, as Reuters reported: “about 118 boys are born for every 100 girls, against a global average of 103 to 107”. Therefore, I find it rare to meet a female Didi driver. I noticed she was not as confident as other male drivers regarding navigation, and I was curious about her background. Therefore, I struck up a conversation with her in Mandarin during my 13-kilometer ride.
With minimal planning, I completed my first solo bike trip around South Korea’s Jeju Island in June. As a foreigner and traveler who can’t read and speak broken Korean, I managed to conclude the journey of approximately 250km in five days. I’m going to share my experience and tips to set off for the challenge.
Sophie Su co-founded Pingo Space, a mobile app that connects Chinese locals to expats through in-person experiences. As a Chinese Australian, she grew up in Sydney and came to Beijing in 2007. The 31-year-old is a mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old son. She is also a first-time entrepreneur, who turned down a store manager job with Apple in the name of making a meaningful impact on society.
She was pregnant when she went to Silicon Valley to meet her developers for the first time, and says she gave birth to two babies around the same time. She sees parallels between her son and entrepreneurship, and how she has grown with these two babies.
Almost 600,000 foreign nationals, excluding nationals from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, resided in China in 2010, according to China’s last national census. That is the potential market for one startup in Beijing who wants to increase cross-cultural interaction in China to bridge the gap between expatriates and local Chinese.
Yunkai Weng, founder and CEO of Pingo Space, had a 12-year career with New Oriental Education and Technology Group, a company providing English education services in China. He says he wanted to change the concept of learning a foreign language by ditching books and socializing outside of the classroom.
Filmmaker and entrepreneur Siok Siok Tan shared her tips on how startups should market themselves at Lean Startup Beijing’s March Meetup. Tan runs a social video platform in China called Kinetic One. As a visual storyteller, she has handled marketing for herself and her company in a subtle way, a practice that eventually helped her land speaking engagements everywhere including the World Economic Forum. Below are five of her marketing tips.
It’s unclear how many psychiatrists, therapists, and psychologists are working in China. There are 125.2 total mental health workers per every 100,000 people in the United States, but the same statistic is not reported for China in the World Health Organization’s 2014 Mental Health Atlas.
Mental health care can be a sensitive subject in China, as an NPR story from last August puts it, the mentally ill are virtually invisible in Chinese society. From a young age on, Chinese are under extreme pressure to study hard, secure decent jobs and complete the “Circle of Life” by starting a family. If one follows this formula, there is not much room for failure, and ailments like anxiety and depression can go unaddressed for fear it will be a sign of weakness.
A Taiwanese startup with no video production skills honed this message clearly in a video they produced at a 48-hour video production marathon, organized by Beijing Tech Hive, in Beijing this March. Their first video was meant to spread awareness about mental health.
Inncube, the newly-opened co-working space in Beijing’s expatriate-oriented Sanlitun neighborhood, saw job seekers and recruiters interacting at company booths while some candidates practiced their elevator pitches in four-minute speed-networking sessions with potential employers. At the same time, speakers took to a stage to speak about inspiration.
That was the scene at JingJobs and SCHSAsia’s job fair on a busy Saturday afternoon in mid-March. The event used the mantra, “Gen Y not! Job Fair. Be inspired”. It was JingJobs’ second go at organizing a job fair.
March is the beginning of a recruiting season in China because candidates are exploring opportunities after Chinese New Year once they receive their bonuses, said Samantha Kwok, founder of JingJobs.
I conducted a one-hour live interview with an expert in front of 50 attendees at Beijing’s co-working space DayDayUp. Below is a write-up of the interview.
Tencent’s 2015 third quarter earnings report said that WeChat has 650 million monthly active users. Many companies in China use WeChat to promote their products and services, but they often hit a wall on how to grow their audience. Thomas Graziani, Co-Founder of a Beijing-based WeChat consulting and development agency WalktheChat, speaks to me to offer more advice on how to use this messaging and social media platform more effectively.