The China Startup Pulse

Evolution of Internet in China (1990s-2000s) and Staying Ahead of the Competition with Fritz Demopoulos, Co-founder of Qunar.com

Episode Summary

With China having the highest number of internet users in the world with more than 750 million users, it is hard to imagine a time when there were only a few hundred users. Fortunately, we do not have to leave much to the imagination. Our guest for today, Demopoulos, has witnessed firsthand the rapid rise of internet development and adoption in China. Before the dotcom bubble of the early 2000s and well before China became the dominant internet economy it is today, Fritz came to China and is one of a handful of experts, who has not only led multinational businesses but also established successful businesses of his own. Fritz Demopoulos has been an entrepreneur and investor in the media and internet industry for over 15 years. He co-founded and exited Qunar.com, China’s largest travel internet company; and Shawei.com, China’s largest sports internet company. Fritz has also held senior positions at Neteast and The News Corporation. In today’s episode, Fritz dives deep into the early days of the internet in China. He shares his experience working in the media industry in China in the early days when people were still figuring out what the internet was. We also discuss the first-generation of internet entrepreneurs in China: how they started, what made them different, and more. We then move onto his own entrepreneurial journey in China. Starting a business in China as a foreigner is not easy, let alone a successful one. Fritz talks about how he managed to build his business in China by staying ahead of the curve, something that all entrepreneurs can learn from.

Episode Notes

Our guest for today, Fritz Demopoulos is the Founder of Queen's Road Capital. He has been an entrepreneur and investor within the media and internet industries for over 15 years. He co-founded Qunar.com, China’s largest travel internet company; and Shawei.com, China’s largest sports internet company. Fritz also had senior positions at Netease and The News Corporation. As an expat witnessing the exponential growth of China since the late 1990s, he brings a very unique and interesting perspective of internet in  China and the determinants of success for early internet founders.

 

Episode Notes:

02:30 Introduction to Fritz Demopoulos

03:05 Internet in China in 1997

05:15 How Fritz decided to come to China

05:44 What stood out in the Chinese business environment

07:33 The Dotcom Bubble and its Impact on China

09:12 The Major Driver of Business Growth in China

12:13 The Evolution of Early Internet Businesses in China

13:42 Appetite for Monetization

17:00 Value Addition over Monetization

18:41 User Interface in early 2000s

21:36 The First Generation of Chinese Internet Founders

24:35 Fritz's leap into entrepreneurship

26:48 Differentiating a Business and Standing Out of the Crowd

31:03 Raising Capital as a Foreigner in China

32:58 Inflection Point for China Internet that Changed Everything

35:11 China's Role in Global Tech

39:04 What keeps Fritz busy now

40:00 Fritz's Investment Thesis and Areas of Investment Interest

41:30 How to contact Demopoulos

41:55 Advice to Everyone

Many thanks to our guest; host Oscar Ramos; producers Eva Shi and Sagar Chaudhary; editor David; organizer Chinaccelerator; and sponsor People Squared. Be sure to check out our website www.chinaccelerator.com

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