DiscoverAshley Talks – Asia Tech Podcast276: Jasen Wang (Ashley Talks ASH17)
276: Jasen Wang (Ashley Talks ASH17)

276: Jasen Wang (Ashley Talks ASH17)

Update: 2018-06-19
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Podcast highlights:



  • 00:55 Tell us more about Makeblock -- Makeblock is a company whose aim is to help people create. Often people have an idea but need help on the mechanical, software, or electronics side of things. What we do is provide a platform to unify these elements and help people create.

  • 12:15 What advice would you offer people in terms of how to get started? What things do you think are necessary to be successful in this field? -- You have to have an interest in what you're doing. Running a business is very very hard, so having that interest is important. Another recommendation is think differently. Many people fail because they just try to copy what someone else is doing and don't bring new ideas and products to market.

  • 51:30 If you can leave listeners with some wisdom, what would it be? -- Do things that help people remain in the physical world. Keep building and creating!


Podcast notes:



  • NOTE: This episode contains explicit language.

  • 00:05 Welcome Jasen Wang, Founder and CEO of Makeblock to Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok.

  • 00:55 Tell us more about Makeblock -- Makeblock is a company whose aim is to help people create. Often people have an idea but need help on the mechanical, software, or electronics side of things. What we do is provide a platform to unify these elements and help people create.

  • 01:50 The robots people create with Makeblock, can they actually be functional? -- Yes. Our platform has macro-parts that are strong and can be used in many situations. Mostly our robots are used for educational purposes, though.

  • 02:50 Tell us about your personal journey. -- Learned design at university with the dream of becoming an aircraft designer. While doing a Master's degree, developed an interest in robotics. After graduating, moved to Shenzhen for the many opportunities there. Had an interest to start own company doing something with robotics.

  • 06:40 Has your family supported you along the way? Are there other entrepreneurs in your family? -- A very normal family. Parents live in a very small town where they are farmers. There was not much help they could provide in terms of my career. They supported my decisions, however, and allowed me to do what I wanted to do.

  • 08:06 Did you always have success at Makeblock or were there challenging times? -- In the very beginning, things were very hard. In the first three months, you have a lot of passion because you've just started the journey; but after there were problems and difficulties with financing in the first year.

  • 10:55 How long has it taken you to reach your current level at Makeblock? -- Left first job in 2007 to join the incubator HAX. It was in 2012 where the first big steps towards Makeblock occured when we raised US$6 million in our Series A funding cycle. In 2017, we closed a US$30 million round.

  • 12:15 What advice would you offer people in terms of how to get started? What things do you think are necessary to be successful in this field? -- You have to have an interest in what you're doing. Running a business is very very hard, so having that interest is important. Another recommendation is think differently. Many people fail because they just try to copy what someone else is doing and don't bring new ideas and products to market.

  • 15:25 How do you see the market right now embracing your product? -- What we see is that STEM education is really taking off in China. The Chinese Ministry of Education is really putting focus on STEM and also on making. In China alone the market for STEM education is estimated to be worth US$8 trillion. Makeblock is now a leading STEM education company. This is a great opportunity for us. Right now our sales are about 30% within China and 70% outside China. Our other big markets are in America, France, Japan, Germany, and the UK.

  • 19:18 One of the things you do is push your staff to innovate and come up with new robots. Why do you do this? -- We do this through our own internal makathons, and the reason is to keep the company creative. We want all our members to be creative. Anyone in the company can join these sessions and each session will have a topic. Teams then think about and actually realize new ideas within the established makathon topic.

  • 23:00 What is your favorite robot you've seen come out of these makathons? -- My favorite is the one who looks like WALL-E from the Pixar film.

  • 24:29 What do you see right now as the future of Chinese tech? What are some of the more exciting things coming out now in China? -- China benefits from having good factories and very good supply chains, and also some very good software companies. On the hardware and software sides China has a very good foundation. Future products that combine these two assets will do really well.

  • 27:00 Based on your experience, which of the two major major Chinese technology companies, Alibaba or Tencent, which of those two are doing better in the Chinese market? -- From my perspective, I think Alibaba has the edge because they provide a lot in terms of e-commerce and supply chain.

  • 30:50 How long do you think it will be before AI truly changes our world? -- It will still take time. AI can right now only solve problems in the digital world. In the physical world, we need some really good machines that can work with the AI. The bodies in robotics need to be very smart and very strong. This is what will take more time, the hardware...maybe 10 to 20 years.

  • 34:50 Moving forward, what do you see is the future for Makeblock and yourself? -- Our mission at Makeblock is to help people create. We hope in the future when people want to create, they can find the solutions they need with Makeblock. Creating things brings people happiness and we want to empower people with the technology they need to realize their ideas.

  • 37:10 What motivates you personally going forward? -- We want to make the world a better place and improve education across the world. This is what motivates us. For me, I look up to people like Elon Musk, who is someone trying to solve problems others cannot. He is a hero.

  • 39:00 Let's talk about women in technology in China. How do you empower your female employees? -- Girls and boys have different interests. What we find is that women are doing great work in marketing and outreach at our company. In China, there are a lot of strong female entrepreneurs. Chinese women have a lot of ambition.

  • 43:20 You started your journey as an entrepreneur in 2012. Do you think it is easier or harder now to be an entrepreneur in China? -- It's easier, without a doubt. Technology is really popular and there is a lot of support from government and society for young startup companies.

  • 51:30 If you can leave listeners with some wisdom, what would it be? -- Do things that help people remain in the physical world. Keep building and creating!

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276: Jasen Wang (Ashley Talks ASH17)

276: Jasen Wang (Ashley Talks ASH17)

Bharath K