Category Archives: The Beertelligence Podcast

You are here: Home » Category: "The Beertelligence Podcast" (Page 2)
The Beertelligence Podcast - smart people in tech, design, product & entrepreneurship discussing breakthrough ideas and tactics over beers.

10 - WeChat marketing expert Matthew Brennan discusses latest trends in China

“WeChat is like the operating system for your life in China”

Matthew Brennan has been in China for 13 years, working in many different cities and eventually finding his way to research and becoming a WeChat expert.

Matt cofounded China Channel, which organizes China’s largest WeChat marketing conference series for international companies. They also produce a massive amount of content in the form of blog posts about WeChat & China tech.

Matthew spends his time working as a consultant, trainer, writer and public speaker. He’s also in the process of writing a book called ‘Building your Business through WeChat’ and his opinions regarding WeChat and the China digital ecosystem have been featured in global media:
– The Economist
– The Financial Times
– Forbes and more.

In this episode:
– how to operate official account as foreign company
– the challenges of writing a book
– some of the ad products coming from Tencent
– how Tencent is driving search & AI forward for WeChat
– the decline & transition of the newsfeed, pushing people out of WeChat
– the challenges of social networks when they become a hybrid of colleagues & life mixing together
– how Tencent thinks about getting people out of WeChat & to talk more
– how people can make a job just selling in WeChat groups, like buying luxury bags in Paris & selling through WeChat groups
– live streaming & other unique China business models
– the state of micropayments in China

Matthew on WeChat

Amazon FBA in Guangzhou – sourcing from China selling on Amazon



Dedao: subscription content for audio
Download on itunes link


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

9 - Rui Ma China startup investing at 500 startups & Rookie Fund - The Beertelligence Podcast

“Why Finance?” “Basically because I was a shitty engineer”

Rui worked 4 years as the Partner for Greater China at an early stage investment fund called 500 Startups. She spent 3 of those years in Beijing and 1 year in Mountain View where the company has their headquarters.

Rui, pronounced like “Ray gun”, was born in rural China and we follow her career path as she went from China to San Francisco and back again, investing in startups, raising a new fund (maybe) and figuring out her next big thing.

Rui has always been interested in educational technology so we spend some time discussing the opportunities she’s looking for as she kicks off a non-profit called Rookie Fund, which is a student-run fund for investing in other student entrepreneurs in Asia.

She also shares a lot about her career decisions, motivations and life overall, like for example how she lost her fiancé and her job on the same day as she bought a new house in Shanghai. And how that ended up being one of best days in her life.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Changes in San Francisco after 10 years in China
+ Surviving the first dot com boom & bust
+ Failing Newtonian physics twice
+ The value of working with good mentors
+ Some good & bad advice she received about career guidance
+ Resisting FOMO – the fear of missing out
+ Benefits of experiential education “apprenticeship” over traditional education systems
+ The future outlook of cryptocurrency
+ Communication gaps in education
+ Using time off to focus her career before raising a new fund
+ Getting good & bad advice
+ How losing her job and fiancé on the same day was the worst day that eventually became the best day
+ RookieFund and how students can be trained to invest in other students
+ Working on confidence as a skill
+ The benefits & drawbacks of an executive MBA
+ How to develop a “Growth Mindset”

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD

The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane

Rookie Fund:

500 startups:


About Rui:
Rui on LinkedIn:

Rui on Twitter:


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

8 - Florian Bohnert - Mobike Bike Sharing in China - The Beertelligence Podcast

“Working in a Chinese startup is another way to read the culture.”

Florian (富天宇) is Head of International Expansion at Mobike and Co-Director at Startup Grind Shanghai.

He has been in China for more than 7 years and started out doing factory inspections in Shenzhen.

He then moved to Changchun for a year and ended up in Shanghai, where he cofounded (and exited) from a startup called WeSmart in the SAAS space that helped corporate offices save money on their energy bills.

The focus of this episode is around his experiences in China & startups over the years, with heavy focus on early stage startups since he was the first foreigner hired by Mobike, a booming bike-sharing company in Shanghai that uses QR codes to unlock & rent bikes, picking up & dropping them anywhere around the city.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Interest in Asia early on
+ The value of foreign accents
+ How Shenzhen went from incomplete to ‘finished’ in 7 years
+ Visiting factories in China
+ Speed of tech adaption in China, especially WeChat pay
+ How founding team is more important than any industry in China
+ How he became the first foreigner in Mobike
+ How different bike sharing is in China vs previous bike sharing with fixed locations
+ Why Mobike is going international now
+ Comparing working for a French-owned company vs Chinese-owned company
+ How going to the museum & the zoo contributed to his environmentalism
+ Redesigning products to be cheaper, lightweight and more ecofriendly “Ecodesign”
+ Why China was so well set up for bike sharing at this time and going to massive scale
+ How bike sharing companies are dealing with the regulation challenges
+ What some ideal features to add to Mobike
+ Cultural differences showing up in how peoples interact with bikes as urban population’s social commitment
+ Why he wants to do stand up comedy

Article about mobike trips to the moon in terms of distance:

Documentaries by Morgan Spurlock
Super Size Me

The greatest movie ever sold

Ted: The greatest ted talk ever sold

Habits book – The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Paperback – by Charles Duhigg



Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

7 – David Lennie – Big Data Netflix Shopify – The Beertelligence Podcast

“Good data work has nothing to do with technical skill”

David Lennie is currently SVP of Data & Analytics at Shopify, a booming e-commerce startup that has seen steep growth recently, up more 400% since they went public in May 2015.

Before Shopify, he spent almost 5 years at Netflix where he managed a team of 60 employees and delivered a big data analytics platform across all areas of Netflix.

And before both of those he was head of Business Intelligence for Playboy, where he designed and deployed the company’s first corporate data warehouse.

David is a thoughtful and reflective manager who discusses at length the human parts of managing a team, even if the work itself is all about the numbers. We discuss mentoring, hiring and firing and everything in between as it relates to running a business.

We also spend a fair amount of time discussing corporate culture, specifically the infamous Netflix culture of Freedom & Responsibility & David’s first-hand account.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Netflix corporate culture
+ People & processes, when they’re good, when they’re not
+ The diminishing returns of adding people to a team
+ Working for a Canadian company vs US company
+ How process is organizational training wheels
+ Patty McCord’s Netflix culture views
+ Why performance improvement plans (PIPs) are useless
+ How hiring data is so misleading for HR
+ How analytics can be applied to culture, process, benefit
+ How having the proper question up front is important to designing data structure
+ How mentoring & people development is what he enjoys most
+ Challenges of fake news & newsfeed via algorithms
+ Using an Executive coach & insights they can offer into work style & motivations
+ The hype & dangers of machine learning & AI as it becomes more prevalent
+ How AI can inadvertently reinforce systemic problems
+ When and how should AI be merciful
+ How & when you should take more risks, not letting life to slide by

Netflix Freedom & Responsibility

Documentary DamNation (trailer)

David on Linkedin:


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

6 - Dan Shumow - Security Cryptography - The Beertelligence Podcast

“I like bullshittin… Some might say I’m quite skilled at it.”

Dan Shumow is a Senior Software Development Engineer in the Security and Cryptography group at Microsoft.

One of his more notable accomplishments was when he used a mathematical proof to show how a government-created random number generator could have a built-in backdoor, which was later confirmed after the Snowden leaks came out.

Dan shares many stories in this podcast, including the Snowden story, why Microsoft didn’t want him to share it and how he made the decision to go ahead. And totally different stories like how he wanted to be a ninja when he was a kid, beating up the neighbors trees and getting into trouble and how this connects to him becoming interested in cryptography.

We spend time discussing what it is exactly that a cryptographer does and he shares his views on education, the “internet of things” (aka how the “internet of shit” that makes us less safe) and what a regular person can do to educate & protect themselves about web security.


In this episode:
+ How a love of ninjas led to cryptography
+ How drugs can sometimes help resolve a crisis
+ Being involved in airport protests after the travel ban
+ Some fundamental changes needed in education, relative to tech
+ Why he doesn’t keep his Alexa turned on all the time
+ Early versions of the Kinect recording ‘adult moments’
+ Steps people can take to protect themselves online


Wired story on backdoor

Microsoft page

Some work he did in Crypto got a lot of attention in conjunction with the break of the SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm:

He likes street art and has an instagram for it:

And once he told a story about his favorite tagger (Shitbarf) at the Moth in Seattle:

Books mentioned
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

5 - Marius Ionita - F&B Photography - The Beertelligence Podcast

“We wrestle bears, that’s what we do in our country.”

Marius is a 20-year veteran of the Shanghai Food & Beverage (F&B) industry having worked in clubs, bars and even opened his own restaurant.

Marius was born in Romania and moved to South London when he was 18, finding work early on in restaurants. From there he moved to China in 1999 and became a part-time DJ for 15+ years.

Now, with 18 years in China under his belt, he’s the CEO of Kollektiv, a group of design & photography freelancers . His company also dabbles in Event Management from time to time.

What is the “jpeg horse”?
As a bit of background, the “jpeg horse” refers to a picture in Brandon’s apartment provided by his landlord that is a picture printed of a horse that is such low quality that you can see the pixels clearly when you are up close. And luckily this is glued to the wall.


In this episode:
+ Differences between Shanghai 1999 & Shanghai 2017
+ Russian jokes in the office
+ Menu & food photography
+ The “Shanghai slide”, how great restaurants quality drops dramatically after 6 months
+ How being crazy helps in the restaurant business
+ Lack of music growing up in communist country
+ How ‘drunk talk’ can lead to good business ideas
+ How in 1999 all the foreigners knew each other & they partied with the Marines
+ Tips for eating street food & avoiding skewers outside nightclubs at all costs
+ Project management, communication & how to manage last-minute client deadlines
+ The importance of full debriefing of clients to ensure smooth projects
+ How entrepreneurs should invest more story, time, energy & soul into their brand
+ A school for F&B owners
+ How music controls flow in restaurants
+ How running a restaurant dominates your life & why so many people quit
+ Staff turnover in China issues
+ Partying & waking up an another town

Mentioned in this episode:
Tai An Table

El Willy F&B group & Tomatito:

Find Marius online


Wechat ID:


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

4 - Ben Whitter - HR Employee Experience - The Beertelligence Podcast

“Fuck this podcast, order me McDonalds, I’m on my way to meet with HR.”

Ben Whitter aka Mr Employee Experience™, is CEO/Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute. He started out working in hotel customer service in Spain before transitioning into employee training & development roles.

After working across many sectors in the UK, he landed a large organization in the UK where he then started focusing in specifically on the role that HR plays, or doesn’t play, in organizations. He set out to motivate companies to focus in on the overall employee experience and streamlining the HR parts of the organization to focus on that.

FYI – This episode was recorded early Saturday morning instead of our normal afternoon sessions. Hence how slow & rusty we are starting out.



In this episode:
+ Momo’s hungover podcast idea
+ Spain customer service on a small island
+ How to deal with angry customers
+ How “being seen” is so important for the service business
+ Why isn’t HR a business leader
+ How “people are our greatest asset” are usually full of crap
+ Designing companies from ‘pre-hire to retire’
+ Airbnb stepping up on employee experience
+ Does HR need a re-branding?
+ How Airbnb is doing well with designing the office environment & spaces makes a big difference in trust & belonging
+ Adidas setting up a think tank about the future of work
+ Google setting up an area for staff to create new business & investments from internal funding
+ Use of employee engagement surveys vs continuous feedback loop
+ The importance of trust & transparency
+ Unique changes in the Chinese workplace
+ How staff decided to cut pay instead of firing people, which becomes a trust building exercise
+ Challenges at building company transparency in Chinese companies
+ The other executives who should move into HR / Employee Experience
+ Tesla’s progress on employee experience in China
+ Is Holocracy part of the solution?
+ Is unlimited vacation a good idea?

Mentioned in this episode:
AirBnB Chief Employee Experience Officer

Google’s Area 120 startup incubator

Life at SAS

Netflix’s culture of Freedom & Responsibility:

Employee Experience Seminar in Europe:

Find Ben online –


Personal website:

Company website:


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

3 - Elyse Ribbons - China Movie TV Radio - The Beertelligence Podcast

“No one believed that a white (non-Chinese) girl wrote it”

Elyse, a self-proclaimed language nerd, has a very eclectic background spanning her 15 years in China. She has worked as a Movie & TV star in China, gotten a Masters in Peking Opera, written a play and been COO of a Chinese construction company (which meant she can drink Baijiu).

That’s not to mention her being cohost of one of China’s highest-rated nationally syndicated news radio programs called 老外看点 LaoWai KanDian(International Perspectives) as well as working at the US embassy, speaking fluent Mandarin and starting a theatre company all before entering Stanford Ignite Beijing to build a charity startup “GeiLi Giving”.


Through her career she followed a core theme of communication & bridge building, metaphorically and literally, striving to see other people’s points of view.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Being good at drinking & referencing Tang dynasty poetry
+ Translating for meetings with Bill Clinton
+ Traveling with 180 Chinese millionaires
+ Stanford Ignite Beijing
+ Teaching people how to hug in China (workshops)
+ Nano Wrimo (to write her novel)
+ Her dream of being Secretary of State
+ How former president Bush Senior (41) smoothed the path for Bush Junior in China before diplomatic meetings took place
+ The good & bad of philanthropy and how difficult it is in China
+ Moving from Detroit to small town North Carolina to a “Nerd school”, a public boarding school.
+ Playing Helen Snow in Red Star Over China
+ Doing stand up comedy in Mandarin & English
+ Why Chinese girls can’t talk about sex on stage
+ How acting helps in business
+ Her daily journaling habit

Mentioned in the episode:
Stanford Ignite Beijing

China Pacific Construction Group:

Nano Wrimo (national writing month):

Clinton Global Initiative:

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World
by Jacqueline Novograt

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof (Author), Sheryl WuDunn (Author)

Heifer International (Chengdu):

Panda Conservation (Chengdu):

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

Playing Helen Snow in Red Star Over China:

Kung Fu Komedy:

SOS Ventures / Chinaccelerator:

You can find Elsye online:
GeiLi Giving:


Google Elyse Ribbons or
Baidu 柳素英 liǔsùyīng (her Chinese name)


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

2 - Siddharta Lizcano - Exp. Design - The Beertelligence Podcast

“My name is Siddarthhabbilizcaoadelapena, can you repeat that?”

Sidd grew up in London & Spain and has been in China now for the past 5 years. He has a Masters in Interactive Design and worked as an experience designer across many industries in his time at agencies such as Frog and Sapient.

In this episode, Sidd talks a lot about how he got into design and how he thinks about experience & service design, with a heavy focus on how the product is actually used in the real world with real users.

He also talks about how he started drawing images for old computer magazines so that he could work & travel the world. How would you draw a picture of “open source software”? Sidd used Bees. Then that paycheck kept him alive for 3 months in India.

From there we dive into a detailed discussion of neuroplasticity, the idea that the brain is constantly being reformed and there are new therapies evolving based on this idea to treat people with Parkinson’s disease or chronic pain.

Then Sidd shares one of his main parenting struggles – what to do with technology. His answer was to work with his kids to build games together that use real-world sensors and digital game mechanics. He wanted is kids to start playing with technology at an early age so that it doesn’t appear like magic.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Long names
+ Service design
+ Painting in the Himalayas
+ Rhino horn poo (a lot)
+ Neuroplasticity
+ Meditating since 7 years old
+ The power & peril of Keynote
+ Making games with his kids
+ Screaming kids in the hallway
+ Film storytelling in new tech
+ Alexa emotions & feeling like a family member

Find Siddhi online:


Resources mentioned in the episode:

Salvador Dalí biography:
Salvador Dalí Diario de un genio

Neuroplasticity book:
The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge, M.D.

MIT Scratch:

Makey Makey controller:


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….

1 - Dabo Chen - VR AR Video - The Beertelligence Podcast

“You know what God Mode is on video games? I’m gonna do that shit in real life”

Dabo Chen is founder of Shanghai-based Langzou Technologies. They develop tech & software for volumetric video capture for VR/AR with an early focus on the education industry.

Dabo had previously cofounded 2 other companies in London – 1 to help fitness trainers sell classes and another to utilize ambient sound analysis using machine learning replace other home sensors.

After London, Dabo relocated to Shenzhen & then Shanghai where he got funding and recruited a team. His company recently finished up the ViveX HTC Accelerator.

His company is currently working on an education tool so that teachers can create their own VR lessons as easily as if they were creating powerpoint. Then he hopes that the tens of millions of teachers in China could be converted into VR producers, using his tools to put themselves into those VR environments easily.

In the podcast, we discuss…
+ AR / VR business challenges
+ 3D cameras
+ VR in education
+ Managing computer vision, cloud computing, front end & more tech collisions
+ “Shenzhen speed” quick manufacturing in China
+ Are we all just living in a high quality “unity” 3d engine?
+ Using he uses visualization to solve math problems
+ How low tolerance can drive success

Add your questions & suggestions for future podcasts in the comments below.

Mentioned in the podcast:
Langzou Company Website & Demo:
ViveX HTC accelerator:
Project VoCo Adobe demo VoCo to impersonate anyone’s voice:


Subscribe to The Beertelligence Podcast on….