1. Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? How you got started in the current business?
Hi, thanks for giving me this opportunity of sharing with friends at Xindanwei. My name is Siwei ZHU and I’m managing editor and co-founder of TasteSpirit.com, an online wine magazine in Chinese. I spent my undergraduate years in Shanghai Jiao Tong University and then studied in TELECOM ParisTech and HEC Business School in Paris for computer science and digital business strategy.
I set my steps in the wine industry really by coincidence. During my study in France, my Database class professor happened to be a famous wine critics of Le Figaro newspaper. And I followed his oenology classes from time to time during my study in France. Since then I fell in love with wine and the rich culture behind it.
2. What prompted the idea for your project and what excited you to make you undertake it?
Six months before my graduation from HEC business school I worked as a journalist for 36kr.com, currently a leading tech blog in China. But back to then there were only 5-6 members in the team. I witnessed the vision and the growth of this energetic and promising new media startup. This experience inspired me to create an online wine magazine for Chinese wine lovers and professionals.
3. Can you tell me about TasteSpirit.com, the website you built up, and what you do for it?
TasteSpirit.com is an online wine magazine providing authentic and stylish content for wine lovers and wine professionals. I started this website with my partners and the partnership of Le Figaro in France. At the booming period of Chinese wine market, we hope our focus on high quality content and good design can establish a strong brand and recognition of TasteSpirit.com.
As I have experience and knowledge of both Web product development and wine, I works as managing editor and product manager of TasteSpirit.com.
4. You worked in wine tasting, can you tell me about the experiences you had in working on wine tasting?
People not in the wine industry may fantasize it as a work of epicure. Well it truly is. If you don’t enjoy your work and life, how can you work for telling people how to better enjoy their lives? A wine critics’ job is to use his or her trained taste and knowledge to eliminate bad wines and recommend good wines for customers. Wine tasting for me is always a journey of adventure. The domains of wine and Internet share one thing in common that I love very much: there are always so much to learn and everything is changing so rapidly. Both of them satisfy my curiosity and passion for learning new things. Wine is a work of art which reflects the characteristics of its vintage, soil and the personality of the man who make it. A bottle of wine is alive and it evolves constantly like a human being. The age can bring a good wine polish and complexity, just like what it does to a man or woman.
However, wine tasting has its occupational hazard too. Some times I need to taste more than 50 wines during an afternoon. I have to spit out the wine each time otherwise I could be too drunk to do anything.
5. As an entrepreneur, what’s the biggest challenge for you? Finding the idea? Finding the team? Or finding the investment?
During my time at 36kr.com I interviewed and met with a lot of entrepreneurs. My observation is confirmed by my experience from my own startup.
I think entrepreneurs never lack good ideas. And the investment comes as a natural result if you do most of the things right as the eco-system of startup-VC develops rapidly in China.
Team is vital for startups and it’s something you can only get with chance and time. But fundamentally the only and final challenge for an entrepreneur is this question: How to find a sustainable and ideally scalable business model with your resource? If you find one, how to execute it? This is a challenge that an entrepreneur faces repeatedly during his or her adventure of creating a business.
6. Final thoughts for readers?
I’ve spent some time in incubators and accelerators in Paris and Silicon Valley. That’s why Xindanwei caught my attention at the first time I saw this concept of sharing in China. If anybody is interested in talking with me during a cafe break or lunch, I will be waiting at Xindanwei with pleasure.
And you can also find us on weibo which is providing interesting content of wine culture. And you can also find my articles about startups and the Internet on 36kr here. My personal weibo.