How An English Teacher Founded A Billion Dollar Company In His Tiny Apartment

How was a Chinese English teacher able to transform his dream, $60,000 seed capital and some friends into the the world's most valuable Internet commerce company?

jack ma

15 years ago Jack ma founded Alibaba in his apartment in Hangzhou, China. Today, Ma is the richest man in China thanks to the IPO of Alibaba, that was perhaps the greatest in world history. With a market capitalization of over $230 billion, the online retailer is almost greater than Amazon and eBay together.

Alibaba now plans to conquer the western market and has already invested over $1 billion in a number of US start-ups like Tango or Uber among others.

How was a Chinese English teacher able to transform his dream, $60,000 seed capital and some friends into the the world’s most valuable Internet commerce company?

Jack Ma, Founder and CEO of Alibaba Image Credit: Magnus Manske

The Start

Ma recognized the relevance of the English language and did all to learn it. He even would ride his bike around the town so he could guide tourists just to learn and practice English.

The Big Vision

Even though there weren’t that much people using internet in China, Ma saw in the Internet the huge potential  for companies to bridge throughout China’s vast population. Together with his and 17 friends, he brought $60,000 as seed money to start the company.

It’s All Or Nothing

It was an all in game for Ma. He and his friends raised a $5 million angel round, $20 million from Softbank in 2000, $1 billion from Yahoo in 2005 and $1,6 billions from Silver Lake Partners and DST Global in 2011.

Solve A Real Problem

China’s small businesses always had a big problem, due to the lack of brick and mortar infrastructure. Alibaba recognized the problem and took the chance and now accounts for more than 80% of China’s eCommerce, this corresponds to $248 billion in year 2013.

Think different

Steve Jobs once said “Only the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do” but he also said “Think different”. Everyone talks about money and the big idea. But it seems like Jobs was right. The most successful companies like Alibaba, Google and Apple dared to think different. They did the things nobody else dared to do. Before founding Alibaba Ma was in Silicon Valley looking for co-founders, but nobody took him seriously because his idea was so different. But fortunately enough he had to courage to pull it trough.

Calvino Miguel

Successfield co-founder

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(Successfield co-founder)

Successfield co-founder

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