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Seeking out the youth market online

2010-05-31 09:54

Seeking out the youth market online

Wang Lifen, founder and host of the well-known Chinese version of the Apprentice reality show, said she knows well the old Chinese proverb, "It's easier to share the cool under a big tree." However, she said she preferred to venture along a road less traveled rather than follow a conventional way of life. [Provided to China Daily]

Former CCTV star gives up her career to become a pioneer Net entrepreneur

BEIJING - Writing in a blog two months ago, Wang Lifen announced the launch of her independent Internet television platform and said farewell to a 15-year career as a journalist with CCTV, the largest national television network.

Wang, founder and host of the well-known Chinese version of the Apprentice reality show, Win in China, as well as founding executive producer of a series of star television programs such as Chinese Dialogue, made a decisive move to become a startup entrepreneur in her mid-40s.

"It's easier to share the cool under a big tree," as an old Chinese proverb relates, she said. "I know what it means, but I prefer to venture along a road less traveled rather than following the conventional ways of life."

Her new adventure is a website called Umiwi, a play on the English words "you", "me" and "we". It is aimed at creating an interactive channel between social elites and the younger generation through a series of online talk shows.

The site provides a live talk show at 8 pm from Monday to Saturday, in which celebrities, entrepreneurs and specialists are invited to discuss various topics that young people are facing in their careers and life, ranging from skills for job-hopping to so-called leftover girls.

Her team posted a list of potential topics on the Internet and solicited users' feedback. The most popular subjects will be discussed in the TV studio, which is part of a loft office on the 19th floor of a building in Soho New Town, in Beijing's Central Business District. It has bright orange curtains and is home to more than 1,000 plants in typical female executive style.

Another show called Clinic for Would-be Entrepreneurs, a sequel to Win in China, involves chief executive officers or private equity investors to provide suggestions and solutions for problems that promising businessmen and women encounter on starting a new business.

A charity auction similar to the Power Lunch with Warren Buffett is also taking place on the website. Its rising bidding prices have attracted big audiences.

By May 4, an anonymous bidder had agreed to pay 1.89 million yuan for three hours with Shi Yuzhu, a Chinese billionaire. The auction opened in March and will last until June 15.

The concept of the luncheon auction is familiar to Chinese people but has never been tried before on the mainland. In 2008, Hong Kong-based investor Zhao Danyang paid $2,110,100 for a steak lunch with billionaire US investor Buffett.

The three hours with Shi provides more scope for interaction between the auction winner and Shi. The winning bidder can invite Shi to deliver a speech to his employees or make other reasonable requests on spending the time together. Whether the meeting will be broadcast or not will be up to the bidder, Wang said.

The website is conducting an online survey about which celebrity people would like to meet next. Jack Ma, the chairman of the dominant business-to-business e-commerce site Alibaba and customer-to-customer (C2C) site Taobao currently ranks first.

Surprisingly, Xi Li Ge, or Brother Sharp, a homeless man who recently became an unwitting celebrity on the Internet because of his sense of fashion, ranks second after Ma.

"We will listen to the views of our users on whether Xi Li Ge's time should be auctioned. If he is in high demand, why not?" Wang said.

All auction proceeds will be given to charity. Money from the first auction with Shi will be donated to efforts in combating the drought in Southwest China, she said.

There is, of course, a serious profit motive with the business. Wang and he fellow TV professionals have the not insignificant challenge of making it succeed financially.

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