Hutong (Ad)Ventures #1: David Gulasi – On Becoming One of China’s Top 3 Foreign Online Influencers

Hutong (Ad)Ventures is a podcast on how to succeed in China featuring top venture capital investors, founders and operators with real China experiences. Hutong (Ad)ventures is part of Haymarket HQ and hosted by Jemma Xu. Podcast can also be downloaded from Soundcloud.

David Gulasi is one of China’s top foreign online influencers with over 8 million (!) followers on social media. A native Australian, David has lived in China for nearly 10 years where he successfully built up multiple businesses. Whilst most foreigners prefer cities like Beijing or Shanghai, David is based in Hohhot in far north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region which borders Mongolia and Russia.

As an online celebrity, David has worked with Chinese and foreign clients such as Volkswagen, Netease, Sony and Chinese dating app Momo just to name a few. David also runs his own successful education company New World Language School in Hohhot, preparing Chinese students for standardised English tests such as the IELTS and TOEFL.

Key points covered:

  • How did David go from 58 online followers to 120,000 overnight, then to 8 million followers now?
  • What is the demographics of David’s followers? What content do they like?
  • What are the key characteristics of each social media platform? How do consumers behave differently on each platform?
  • How does David leverage his online follower base for his education business? How does it compare to his competitors?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of being based in Hohhot vs Tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai?
  • What is the one tip for companies looking to enter China?

Social platforms mentioned:

Chinese phrases mentioned:

  • Laowai 老外: foreigner
  • City name + hua : local dialect
  • Baikaishui 白开水: boiled water for drinking
  • Meishi’er 没事儿 (and its various Inner Mongolian dialects): No problem; often used to imply ‘can be fixed’ or ‘I’ve got it’ mentality

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