Tech in Shanghai

By John Vallis

About this podcast   English    United States

The Tech in Shanghai podcast (@techinshanghai) is a new show which tells the story of what's happening on the ground in the Shanghai/China technology and start-up scene, through the eyes of the people making it all happen. We keep it casual, letting the various founders, CEO's and MD's tell their version of what it's like to to be involved in the scene of one of the most dynamic and fast growing markets in the world. We hope you'll join us as we follow this amazing story and speak to some fantastic and inspiring people along the way!
Feb. 22, 2018
In this episode I sit down with Žiga Drev, Co-Founder of, the "First purpose-built protocol for supply chains based on Blockchain.”  We discuss the ongoing (at the time) ICO, how their protocol will be used, and the work he and his team have done in the preceding months to prepare for this stage in their development, including graduating from Batch 2 of the accelerator program in Shanghai, and being awarded the ‘Walmart Food Safety Innovation Spark Award’ in Beijing We also delve into how OriginTrail has transitioned from a conventional to now a blockchain-focused company, and Žiga explains how his company is using Blockchain to bring more transparency, accountability and trust to the food supply chain. Finally, we discuss what it’s like to be a young entrepreneur in a booming industry, that seems set to radically change how we live, interact and conduct business.  Would love to hear any feedback you may have in the comments below. Thanks!  *NOTE* - I refer to 'OriginTrail' as 'OpenTrail' throughout this interview. This was a massive brainfart on my part, which Žiga seemed too polite to correct me on, and which persisted despite his using the correct term throughout. My apologies to Žiga and the OriginTrail team, as well as to the listeners for any confusion. I'll be sure to correct this in future interviews! -- For more from OriginTrail:  Website: Twitter: Twitter: Facebook: Reddit: Medium: Telegram: For more from Tech in Shanghai: Twitter: Instagram: Facebook: YouTube:
Nov. 21, 2017
Yo!    In this episode I welcome back the VERY FIRST guest of the Tech in Shanghai podcast, and CEO of KAWO, Mr. Alex Duncan.   A LOT has happened in China over the past three years since I first spoke with Alex, especially in the technology industry.    In this show, Alex and I go deep on the positive and negative consequences of China’s rise as a tech superpower, and what it means for the rest of the world and the environment of the planet.   We also discuss how things have changed on the personal side. Change in China is rapid, and often extreme, and so living and working here requires constant adjustments and adaptations, which can sometimes be challenging. We both share our opinions on how our lives and motivations for remaining in China have changed during the last 3 years, what keeps us here, and how we’ve adapted to continue to get the most out of the amazing story that's unfolding here.   Enjoy!     For more from KAWO:   TWITTER: WEBSITE:     For more from Tech in Shanghai: WEBSITE: TWITTER: YOUTUBE: WECHAT: The HungryFoolish
Oct. 24, 2017
It’s been a wild year in Bitcoin, and we’re not done yet! This year has seen several all time highs, the ICO boom, the culmination of the Bitcoin scaling debate, the initiation of hardforks, regulatory changes in China, and lots of development in the ecosystem.  As Bitcoin’s market cap continues to climb, it is attracting evermore attention, market entrants, supporters, detractors and regulatory scrutiny.  October has been a (relatively) quiet month for Bitcoin, subsequent to the shut down of exchanges in China, and prior to the culmination of the SegWit2X drama in mid-late November.  So, I thought it would be a great time to re-connect with my pal Bobby Lee, for our third interview in 3 years, in what we’ve come to refer to as the ‘Bitcoin State of the Union’ chat. Bobby, as usual, was incredibly generous with his time, which allowed us to go for almost 2 hours, as we attempted to touch on the main events from the year, and speculate on what lies ahead in the near future. If you’re brand new to Bitcoin, I highly suggest you listen to my two other discussions with Bobby first, as in this one we skip past the ‘basics’ and get right into the relevant events of the past 9 months or so. Enjoy! For more from BTCC: WEBSITE: MOBILE WALLET: MINT: For more from Tech in Shanghai: WEBSITE: TWITTER: YOUTUBE: WECHAT: The HungryFoolish  
Sept. 22, 2017
Rina is the co-founder of Seedlink, a company based in Shanghai that uses AI and machine-learning to assist companies in more effectively managing their HR decisions.  By analyzing the speech patters of candidates, and comparing that to a data set of top performs in different positions throught the company they are working with, Seedlink is able to drastically increase the likelihood that companies will make hires that are better equiped to do the job well, and who are also likely to be a great match with the company culture. Seedlink's technology and approach is also helping to even the playing field for job seekers, helping to remove commone biases based on age, gender, race, education and work experience, and increasing the chances that they will fill a position that they are good at, but also enjoy! Needless to say, in a world where even the largest companies are facing massive disruption, having a tool to help make better and faster hiring (and firing) decisions can be a huge asset. In addition to her company, Rita and I dive in to all the other challenges and unique experiences that result from being a foreign entrepreneur in the Tech industry in China. Enjoy!   To learn more, visit WeChat: TheHungryFoolish
Sept. 4, 2017
Stone Shi is the founder of the extremely popular social food-discovery app, Bon App!   In this interview we discuss the reasons why Stone decided to walk away from a lucrative corporate career, to jump into the highly uncertain world of tech startups. As well as what the journey has been like as a result, both pros and cons.   We also discuss the many challenges that consumer app startups face in terms of building a broad user base, a passionate community, and of course, a sustainable monetization model.   The road has not been easy for Stone and the team at Bon App!, and as he mentions in the interview, to have any chance of success in this realm, you really need to know and believe in what you are trying to build and create.    What is the point of putting your effort into this? Why is it (the most) meaningful thing to you? If you don’t have those, he explains, your chances of staying the course and persevering when the journey takes (prolonged) unexpected and painful turns, are slim.   To that end, Stone shares how he found his ‘why’ and how doing so has given him the stamina to continue trying to actualize his vision for Bon App!   Of course, he also gives us a sneak peak into some of the exciting things Bon App! has planned for the future!   For more info, check out or search "Bon App!” in your app store.   WeChat: TheHungryFoolish   YouTube: Tech in Shanghai
Aug. 9, 2017
Jay is one of three co-founders behind the wildly popular ecommerce site,   If you haven’t heard of Baopals, it’s basically taobao, but with language and function customized for english speakers. Same enormous selection (over 800million products and services!), just way easier to use, especially if your mandarin isn't up to snuff.   Baopals is less than two years old but has grown from humble roots in the founders’ apartment to a big office and a full-time staff of 30 people (and growing).    In this episode Jay talks about how they came up with the idea, bootstrapping the initial website (instead of seeking early funding), early mistakes, and how they have dealt with their rapid growth.   With increasing users, press coverage and investor interest, we also discuss what is next for Baopals. I won’t spoil it, but the boys have BIG plans.   The Baopals story, though early in it’s telling, is an inspiring example of how friendship, determination, a good idea, and a little luck, can turn in to something really special with massive potential.   WeChat: TheHungryFoolish
July 2, 2017
Brian Tam is the founder of Creativity and Innovation Consultancy, Let’s Make Great, as well as the hot new ’startup card game’, Proto.   Brian is a 3-time Tedx speaker and is on a mission to drive the next 100 years of innovation in China. He is also a super intelligent, articulate and empathetic dude, who know’s who he is, know’s what he’s good at, and has leveraged that awareness to build the business and life that he wants.   In this episode, Brian and I rap pretty broadly on a variety of topics, around personal and professional development, attitude, personal motivation, his experiences in China, and some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs or adventurers who are interested in coming here and giving it a go.   It’s a bit on the long side, but once we got going I didn’t want to stop! Hope you like it:)   Learn more about what Brian is up to at: and    For more from us, visit:   Twitter:    WeChat:   TheHungryFoolish    Brian’s Tedx Talks:   Tech in Shanghai on YouTube:
Oct. 17, 2016
In this episode of the Tech in Shanghai podcast, I speak with Matilda Ho.   Matilda is the founder and CEO of sustainable farm-to-table e-commerce grocery platform YiMiShiJi ( and the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bits x Bites (, a brand new, Shanghai-based Accelerator program and VC that focuses exclusively on companies that are "shaping the future of ‘good’ food”.   Though Matilda is now in full-on entrepreneur mode, she previously worked at world renowned consulting firms like IDEO and the Boston Consulting Group. With so many people now making the leap from corporate to startup, I asked Matilda to share her thoughts on the transition, compare and contrast her experience with her initial assumptions, and provide some advice to others considering doing the same.   As Matilda and I are both extremely passionate about food that is simulanteously good for the individual, as well as the planet, we had some fun discussing her work with YiMiShiJi, and imagening the potential innovations that may emerge from the new accelerator program.   Of course, I also posed some of my more unusual questions to Matilda, like “If aliens landed on earth and you were responsible for greeting them, what is the first thing you would show them?” Her answer WILL surprise you:)   Matilda is a great example of the new breed of entrepreneur who combines experience, market savy, and emotional intelligence, with a bottom line that holds financial returns and positive impact as equally important performance metrics. In fact she recently received recognition for her oustanding approach to business (and life) by being selected to the class of 2017 TED Fellows (golf clap).   Matilda was honest, open, and shared many experiences that are no doubt to be insightful for aspiring entrepreneurs. I highly recommend you check this one out.   Enjoy!     To learn more, visit and or follow them on twitter at   TWITTER:   WECHAT: TheHungryFoolish   YOUTUBE:
July 29, 2016
In this episode of the Tech in Shanghai podcast I speak with Bobby Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of BTCC.   This is actually the second interview I’ve done with Bobby (I highly recommend listening to the first too!), and I always feel so privileged to have the opportunity to speak with someone who is at the very forefront of something so world-changing.   Seriously, it may be hard to see now, as we are still in the early days of Bitcoin, but make no mistake, this technology is REVOLUTIONARY, and one way or another it's very likely going to have an ENORMOUS influence on our lives at some point in the future. Imagine speaking with the people who first started working with the internet or with the founders of Google in the late nineties? That’s what it feels like to speak with a guy like Bobby today.   On a personal level, Bobby is a friendly, polite, all-around nice guy. He’s always very welcoming when I visit the BTCC office, and always generous in giving me time for our chats, which is amazing given all the things he has on his plate.   Our conversation recently was enjoyable as usual, and we discussed THE D.A.O. excitement and controversy, the recent run-up in the price of Bitcoin, the upcoming block reward halving, what kind of traction Bitcoin has garnered over the past year, the possible influence of AI over Bitcoin, his own investments in Bitcoin startups, the emergence of Craig Wright claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, and lots more.   If you’re not an expert in Bitcoin, don’t worry, Bobby has a knack for making the advanced world of Bitcoin exceedingly easy to understand.   If you want to be ahead of the curve in understanding what money will look like in the future, and why you might want to look into Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies sooner rather than later, this episode is worth a listen. Enjoy!   To learn more visit     TWITTER:   WECHAT: TheHungryFoolish   YOUTUBE:
June 29, 2016
In this episode of the Tech in Shanghai podcast I speak with one of China’s most prolific expat entrepreneurs, and the founder of the ’naked’ brand and group of companies, Mr. Grant Horsfield.   For several years Grant and the team at naked have run one of the most popular and environmentally conscious resorts in all of China, which have a strong and loyal following amongst both local and expat clientele.   Then last year in 2015 they made plans to expand their operations. I was first confronted with these plans when I was passing through their original naked co-working space on Fuxing Lu in Shanghai, called nakedHub. I went upstairs and saw six or 7 posters with BEAUTIFUL photos of new projects and accompanying descriptions, as well as a number of scale models for these projects. I was blown away. Not only at how AWESOME the projects looked themselves, but that naked was embarking on such big and bold expansion plans, I loved it.   Among the new projects were several new eco-resorts throughout China, a sailboat product based out of Thailand called naked Sail, an enormous immersive learning complex for both children and adults called naked Discovery, and most obvious to people living in Shanghai, the aforementioned nakedHub co-working spaces, which burst on the scene to tremendous enthusiasm, and which have proliferated to several more locations throughout the city, with apparently at least 10 planned to be operational by the end of the year!   But of course, 'naked' didn’t start as a runaway success, with a diverse portfolio of successful businesses and a brand that customers have come to love. In fact it started with a guy from South Africa, who after living for a year in Shanghai in 2006, was dissatisfied with the lifestyle that was on offer, so much so that he set out to change it. With little money, no hard plans, and a chorus of people telling him he was crazy, Grant set-out into the unknown world of being an entrepreneur in China.    What followed was a wild and chaotic journey of intense struggle and hard-fought triumph that was almost unbelievable.   In this show, Grant and I start by discussing the early days of his journey, and the things that kept him going, when every sign in the universe seemed to be telling him he wasn’t going to be successful. It’s a testament to the type of attributes possessed by the truly great entrepreneurs, of which Grant is certainly one, of grit, determination, hustle, passion and ultimately an unwavering belief in themselves and what they are doing.   If this sounds cliche, keep listening, you’ll see what I mean.   We then fast forward to today, where the big task in front of Grant is not to survive, but to maximize the potential of his brand and company, and continue to be pioneers in creating businesses that people love.   That said, it’s a big leap going from one to several world-class resorts, as well as launching a booming co-working brand, re-imagining education and all the other things naked is now involved in, so I ask Grant what it’s like both personally and organizationally to scale up so boldly and so quickly.   Of course, I also hit Grant with some of my favourite advice questions, which given this guys track record, I highly recommend you stick around to hear.   Enjoy!    Learn more at    TWITTER:   WECHAT: TheHungryFoolish   YOUTUBE:

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