Friday, November 26, 2010

3 weeks in China

Jodie, Mike, Mike's girlfriend Hazel and I flew to China on Monday for a 22 day trip. We've got a packed in agenda including:

  • Catching up with Vanessa and Qun!
  • Multiple meetings with shoe suppliers
  • Meeting with DHL
  • Product development including work on vegan shoes, sandals, boots & new leathers
  • Working with Vanessa and Qun to systemise more of their processes, like photography, shipping and packing and the notes we send to customers
  • We're also heading up to Shanghai for 4 days to catch up with our friend Andy Miller

A key part of the meetings with our shoe suppliers will be planning out our growth over the next 3-5 years. Initially we'd only planned out our sales and growth for the first 12 months. We wanted to focus on proving the business model rather than getting too far ahead of ourselves and thinking 3-5 years out. In some ways that focus was good, but in others it was arguably a mistake because we're hitting the maximum production capabilities of our two existing suppliers, we hadn't given them enough warning about our post 12 month growth.

Fortunately it looks like they'll shortly be able to ramp up their production for us so we want to work more closely with them to ensure they're able and happy to grow with us for the next 3-5 years, and to work with them on how we can systemise our processes to help reduce theirs and our costs and improve on their already very good quality.

It's looking like it will be a fun and productive trip!


  1. Hi Michael i just wanted to say i've enjoyed reading ur blog very much and its very exciting reading about your start up journey with Was it difficult setting up office in China for a foreign business, how was the registration and hiring of local staff like? Appreciate if you can share your experience on that!

  2. Hi Anonymous, now that's a very interesting question. The overall experience has actually been simpler than I expected. That's partly been helped by us hiring very good people early on with Vanessa and Qun. Vanessa in particular (Qun doesn't speak English) has been fantastic in organising office space, dealing with suppliers in China and generally helping us get our operation running efficiently.

    To hire her in the first place was a challenge. We were fortunate that Mike had worked for Google in Shanghai and knew some local Chinese people so one of them helped us advertise the role which is how we hired Vanessa. That said, I think it would be relatively easy to hire someone on a temporary basis and if they were good hire them permanently, if not I'm sure they could help you advertise to hire someone permanently.

    The key to it all though is to spend time in China yourself. All up Mike Jodie and I would have spent a combined total of 7 or 8 months in China over the last 2 years. That's important when working with local Chinese staff and to help you understand the lay of the land.

    I hope that helps!