Please allow me to introduce Cindy Mi, the founder and CEO of VIPKID.
VIPKID is one of the largest online English tutoring companies in China, which is valued at more than $3.5 billion. It matches over 60,000 teachers in the US and Canada with over 500,000 Chinese students for one-on-one online English learning. On the list of 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies, VIPKID ranked 29th worldwide, and the 2nd right after Tencent (the Chinese Internet giant) in China.
With bad learning experience with her Math lessons, Cindy encountered lots of difficulties with the school. She dropped out in 11th grade, and started the first business with her uncle at the age of 17. They created a brick-and-mortar English-training business, where Cindy worked as a co-founder and an English teacher. This experience allowed Cindy to lead business development across China, which gave her the “street smart.” Then Cindy studied for the “book smart” and obtained an MBA degree from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) in 2012. This business school gives strong support to entrepreneurs and encourages students to start their own businesses.
During the period, Cindy found that anxious Chinese parents approximately spend $15 billion a year on children’s English-language learning. There are 18 million new babies born every year and a million elementary school kids in China. However, as a comparison, the residing qualified foreign English teachers are only 27,000. There is obviously an imaginable huge gap between demand and supply. In response to this finding, Cindy started her second business after graduation and founded VIPKID in 2013.
If you are interested in the background, skills and motivation behind the story of entrepreneurship, you can find more details from this interview video.
There are many successful entrepreneurs in the Internet age, but Cindy is the one that has the most significant influence on me. Having the privilege of working with her in the CEO office, I had the opportunity to obverse and to learn from her in our daily work, and I witnessed the challenges faced by the management team in the rapid development of the start-up company and the various ups and downs in the process of dealing with these challenges.
Unlike other business heroes who are much older than me or far away from my life, as a peer, Cindy sets an example to me and greatly inspired my enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, which is also one of the reasons why I participated in the MET program and especially in this course.
What Cindy impressed me the most includes
1. Productive time and energy management: Although the average daily sleep time is only 4-5 hours, the healthy physical body formed by regular exercise allows Cindy to have sufficient physical strength and energy to cope with the challenges in the entrepreneurial process.
2. Ability to learn quickly: As an entrepreneur who dropped out of school and started a career early at age 17, Cindy never give up learning and self-development. She continued her self-study for English literature, obtained her bachelor degree; and then she got an MBA degree. Cindy is modest and eager to learn, and she makes use of every opportunity to continuously learn from industry and academic elites, investors and business leaders. The ability to learn quickly enables her to grow fast together with her company.
3. Ability to recruit talented people: Cindy not only stays humble but also keeps a vacant place for a worthy. In the critical period of enterprise development, she recruited an outstanding marketing and sales talent to join the company as one of co-founders, which significantly improved the company’s sales performance, and help company gain the largest market share of the K12 online English training in China.
4. Corporate social responsibility: As one of the few successful businesswomen in China, Cindy’s success has set a good example and inspired all Chinese professional women. As an English teacher, Cindy always has great enthusiasm in education and always ready to dedicate herself to children’s charity work. Cindy works with Jack Ma Foundation and invested a lot to develop education in remote areas of China.