The 2020 Global Founders Summit and Influencers List Release Ceremony will be held in Beijing on January 8, 2021. The summit is initiated by iAsk Leaders and organized by Global Founders Communication Services Alliance and Global Founders Financial Services Alliance. The summit will invite more than 100 top guests, including noted investors and global founders, to discuss value innovation and future trends with the theme of "Foreseeing the Future, Keeping Uplifting and Benevolent".
Welcome to this episode of iAsk Top Leaders. Our guest is Gloria Ai, the founder of the Global Founders Summit and iAsk.
Looking back at the early days of Gloria Ai, we find she was always a straight-A student. Born in 1987 in Huangshan, Anhui Province, she was enrolled in the Journalism Department of Communication University of China in 2004 as the NO.1 student in literature in the Huangshan City. Later, she was recommended to the Department of International Communication at Peking University with the top grade in her major, and afterwards she entered the Harvard Kennedy School to study public policy and receive her master's degree.
“I have been arming myself with knowledge from the age of 20 to 25. From Peking University, Communication University of China to the graduate study in economic policy at Harvard Kennedy School, I have been fully committed in learning, believing that everything is possible.” Gloria Ai said.
After graduating from Harvard, Gloria Ai worked for the Division of Strategic Communications at the United Nations Headquarters, the International Finance Corporation of World Bank Headquarters, and worked as a part-time business commentator for CCTV New York, among others. Because of her work, Gloria Ai has been in constant contact with overseas and Chinese new economy companies, and has interviewed many national dignitaries, CEOs and other top figures.
In the process, she made a keen observation that the founders of many foreign companies, such as Apple and Tesla in the U.S., made a strongly bond of their own entrepreneurial intention with the mission, vision, and values of their startups. So that when these companies appeared in the public, people would have more respect for the founders “as an individual with original dreams".
In contrast, there is a phenomenon of "faceless rise" of Chinese companies. Chinese founders are used to give priority to their companies and prefer to stay in the backstage, like Ren Zhengfei and Huawei.
This inspired and awakened Gloria Ai's idea of entrepreneurship. She believes that the future of the new economy is people-oriented. It is the dream of the person who are behind the scene, rather than technology itself that helps Chinese innovation to change the world. She hopes to help the founders of China's companies of new economy to "walk to the stage in front of their businesses".
In 2014, in the context of "mass entrepreneurship and innovation" and with this initial intention, the 27-year-old Gloria Ai returned to China and founded iAsk Media, which focuses on positioning communications, investment and financing for founders. On the one hand, it launched the video interview program iAsk Leaders, to conduct dialogues with political and business leaders, capture vivid and hot topics, new economic phenomena and cutting-edge trends of the times, and pay tribute to top figures. In the past six years, iAsk Leaders has interviewed more than 2,000 entrepreneurs and investors of the times.
On the other hand, iAsk also focuses on technology and media, looking for and investing in founders and companies that will bring great influence to the future with their advanced media thinking and technological breakthroughs. It provides them with communication and financial services in a dual-driven model of media and capital, and has successfully invested in many companies including ByteDance, Horizon Robotics, Himalaya, Movie Book, Data Grand, CapitalWatch, etc.
Five years after its founding, in 2019, iAsk established a global founders office. “We want to tell the world that we have the courage and ability to accompany the founders for five years, tell the founders' stories to the world through iAsk Media. At the same time, we provide founders with investment and financing services at different stages through the Financial Services Alliance that was initiated by iAsk Capital. The Global Founders Office will help more Chinese founders go global and help more foreign founders understand China as well.” Gloria Ai depicted in the media interview.
On December 5, 2019, with the theme of “Foreseeing the Future, Putting People First”, the first Global Founders Summit invited the founders of the era to join an "offline gathering" to explore the rules of innovation and wealth creation and to tell the stories of Chinese founders.
As 2020 approaches, iAsk is also going to celebrate the second Global Founders Summit. As we look back at the past year, we can't describe it better than “sad yet unforgettable”. The past year has witnessed the sudden outbreak of the epidemic which claimed many innocent lives, hurt many families, and forced the entire socio-economic system to stop. Everyone's life was in a slowdown or even a pause.
People had a chance to re-examine their past lives and themselves. “For founders I spoke with and even myself, everyone is gradually returning to peace, common sense and the present moment, from the very pursuit of going faster, better and further." Gloria Ai added.
On January 8, 2021, the 2020 Global Founders Summit initiated by iAsk will be held. Unlike last year, the theme of this conference is “Foreseeing the Future, Keeping Uplifting and Benevolent”.
Gloria Ai expressed what she was more concerned and hoped to inquire of the founder of the times is, “in our busy rush to innovation and wealth creation, can you keep your original intention and desire uplifting and benevolent?”
On the occasion of the 2020 Global Founders Summit, iAsk Top Leaders had an in-depth conversation with Gloria. The following is the transcript of the conversation.
Part I: What new changes have the 2020 epidemic brought about?
Q: As a VC partner, what changes are happening in the China’s VC scene in 2020 in your opinion?
Gloria Ai: In a word, the year 2020 is like both fire and ice for entrepreneurship and investment. On the one hand, a large number of enterprise capital chains were broken, some traditional retail stores were seriously impacted, and education and catering companies were forced to close down. But on the other hand, the investment field was in full swing. In the second half of the year, as with the implementation of QE policy, funds were relatively abundant. Founders and investors were more likely to get funds regardless of fund or venture capital. The promulgation of these related policies is undoubtedly a good news for many startups.
Q: The epidemic is likely to last for quite a long time, and many companies will continue to face more challenges. Do you have any questions or advice for the founders of these companies?
Gloria Ai: Well, I would like to raise three questions for these founders. The first question is, how do you tell your story to the world as a founder? Because you'll only get support if you make the world understand. I think we should learn more from Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, who had courage to accept the pressure of public opinion and bravely carry on as the first spokesperson of the business. It’s my first specific advice to the founders. Can we be brave enough to stand in front of our own innovative organizations, to be ambassadors and spokespeople?
The second suggestion is that I believe that all businesses that end up surviving on the planet should be a technology business, a smart business, so ask yourselves whether you are ready. Can you arm yourself with the technology that represents the future to serve your target groups and make them live better？
Take iAsk for example, which is also undergoing an intelligent reform. I hope iAsk ends up being a media technology company that focuses on serving founders, a company I hope to record hundreds or even millions of founders. They may not be so successful so far, but they are engaged in the innovation in their field, maybe in a small town, a family, or a hospital. It also makes a story worth remembering and being spread.
Then iAsk can be a robot to tell the story of each character. I hope that such a day will come soon.
The third question is, when we are engaged in innovation and wealth creation, can we keep the uplifting and benevolent original intention and desire of entrepreneurship? So this year, one of the highlights of the 2020 Founders Summit is the release of a philanthropic list of benevolent founders, which pays tribute to founders who are not in the business world, but are busy in contributing to public welfare. They may be quite capable and can create great success and wealth if working in business. But they choose to devote their life into projects which are meaningful to the society, without commercial purposes. We would like to pay respects to them.
Part 2: Foreseeing the Future of iAsk
Q: You just mentioned that you hope iAsk will be a technology-based media company in the future. Now that iAsk has been established for six years, what is your expectation of iAsk in the next ten years?
Gloria Ai: iAsk is always at the service of its founders. As long as there are founders in this era who believe they can change the future through positive energy and new technology, iAsk will have a meaningful existence.
What we can offer to founders is to be understood by the world and to have a global influence, which makes the vision of iAsk in the next decade to be a global founders office with an international influence.
But in this process, we can only use technology to achieve global influence. So we should give thanks to all the founders who have joined our dialogues and interviews in the past six years. They are from nearly 2,000 companies, covering all walks of life. Our gratitude also goes to iAsk invested companies including media technology companies representing the future trends such as ByteDance, Himalaya, Horizon Robotics and Movie Book. They have inspired iAsk how to tell the world a good story of Chinese innovation. If through their technical empowerment one day, and the continuous input of these founders' stories, with the right algorithms and data, I think Miss AI could be expected soon.
Q: What is the message from you for the next generation of young founders?
Gloria Ai: There is a saying in English: “Good things take time just do the right things”. In other words, many people want to do great things and good deeds. It depends on basic skills, timing and opportunities. Before your dream is realized, you must prepare well and build up your strengths in order to make it naturally come to fruition. Before your dream and the great things in your expectation are realized, please make sure to do the best in the present, and good results will naturally appear.
Gloria Ai, the founder of the Global Founders Summit and iAsk, believes that in all major industries, whether it is a new generation of rising companies or a strong established giant, behind them all stands a founder who can touch the essence of business in his field and believes that logic can change reality.
She has turned herself from a sharer to a linker, like a bond that connects founders from all over the world but with a common upward mobility, to discuss the future of the industry together and empower each other.
Gloria Ai, the founder of the Global Founders Summit and iAsk, expects that everyone will find a model to learn from through the interviews of iAsk Leaders.