17 - How being sued at 13 years old led to building startups in Asia with Ryan Shuken of MOX & Chinaccelerator
“He bought cocacola.com & sold it for $2million. And I thought, that’s so stupid, I could do that.”
Ryan Shuken started his life as an entrepreneur at a very young age and he now shares his years of learnings as the Program Director for Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX), a start-up accelerator that focuses on Android applications in developing countries. He and his team work mostly with start-ups that already have their product and now need to grow it in multiple countries around the world, often at the same time.
Ryan (33) was born in California & moved to China when he was 18. He started his first business when he was 12 years old, just as the internet was starting to become more widely adopted. He bought web domain names of neighborhood businesses and waited for them to sue, before counter-suing and settling on terms to sell the domains, all accompanied by his mother of course. He went on to teach himself to code and also to clone popular websites as he crafted his own path through entrepreneurship.
Once in China, Ryan studied International Trade and Culture and then had short stints at other colleges around the world, before settling in Shanghai and working with The China Startup Pulse, then Chinaccelerator, and now MOX.
Ryan says he has done all of this with the support of his family, most of whom also run their own businesses. Then we dive into how this fuels his motivation to help other startup entrepreneurs realize their dreams.
In this episode:
+ How MOX’s program for startups works.
+ Buying domain names when the internet was young.
+ Making web clones with people you meet on the internet.
+ Why Ryan moved and the lessons from living in China for more than 15 years
+ ‘Secret Co-founders’ and the importance of discussions.
+ Can anyone be an entrepreneur?
+ Accepting weaknesses and making up for it with hard work.
+ Getting perspective through failure. Then using these perspectives for mentoring.
+ Teachings of rapid iteration, reduced risk, and building for the customer.
+ How problem solving and focus helps a messy ‘backstage’ look polished and perfect to the outside world.
+ Home brewing beer
+ A new community podcasting space in Shanghai
SOSV (MOX and Chinaccelerator):
The Original Content Room (The OC) podcasting studio:
Located in Shanghai, People Squared, 28 Yuyuan Dong lu, building 3
[Not currently public – add brandon-owens on WeChat to get connected to Ryan for more info]
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries:
Ryan’s Linked in:
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“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:
Google Elyse Ribbons or
Baidu 柳素英 liǔsùyīng (her Chinese name)
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