Jill Tang is woman of many traits – a budding entrepreneur, a seasoned networker, a ‘brew girl’, an Aussie alumni, a connector, a dreamer, and an outstanding and vocal supporter of local and foreign start ups.
Firstly, I know you are very passionate about networking and entrepreneurship, but what encouraged you to turn your passion into a business?
The business idea came when I returned to China after 8 years living and working in Australia. I went through a massive reverse culture shock and realised that I was hybrid Chinese – a brand new cultural identity and not fully Chinese anymore, with behaviours considered “weird” in local Chinese eyes. I wanted to help people like myself who were also going through the same challenges to rediscover themselves and reconnect with their home country. The first step was to develop a platform that offered curated jobs specifically to those hybrid Chinese, which is how CareerXFactor was born.
Who was your go to person to vent the frustrations of starting a new business – because we all know it’s not easy!
Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. I have wanted to give up lots of times. The only way to get through is to constantly revisit the WHY and refocus. It is also really important to connect with a startup community who are on the same journey.
There are two categories of people I talk to. I have my mentors, who are a lot more experienced than me, who I can chat to on a regular basis and they help with challenges and suggest potential solutions. And, I have my peers who are at a similar stage in their business startup and we have a coffee or after work drinks, talk about our frustrations and have a laugh. Community support is very important, both as a network and as a way to share the resources.
How do you think entrepreneurship is going in China?
Entrepreneurship in China is blooming. The Government is very encouraging of entrepreneurship and innovation in their next five-year plan. Lots of investment and resources have been allocated to this sector, so I think for entrepreneurs now is the time.
You work extremely hard in creating events and promoting your brand – how important is having a well-built brand to you, and what are your secrets to success?
I think we are still a long way off successful. My understanding of creating a brand is firstly to understand your brand DNA. Once you have determined the DNA, stick to it and be persistent both inside and outside. Anything that is not relevant to your brand DNA, you need to have the capability to say “No”. I would rather go slow – do less events or promotions, than being all over the place and confuse our audience.
What are your future plans?
My vision is to become the “go to” community for international Chinese returnees who share the same values and identity. However, community set up will take a long time so taking a step-by-step approach is key, and making sure we are adding value to the community along the way.
One tip for expats contemplating starting their own brand or business in Shanghai?
Get involved with local Chinese entrepreneurs! The expat entrepreneurs are very active, however, there are lots of resources and hidden short cuts you can only get from local parties. So, if you can, try to link yourself with local entrepreneurs.
In 1 word, describe your Shanghai experience to date?