personal profile: allen shi, born in the 1980s,is a shanghai native raised in northeast china and a postgraduate of east chinauniversity of science and technology. as chairman of the jiahao group, thisangel investor and founder of wedding whole industry chain model is engaged inthe wedding club & hotel, resort, film and television, and industrialinvestment businesses. he is reputed as the industry breaker and businesswizard. as one of the most successful owners of wedding businesses, he has anattitude and mindset in respect of new things and new platforms distinctivelydifferent from the 1960s and 1970s born business owners. perhaps this is why hecan rise so quickly. before he started his business and made it such a hugesuccess, allen shi worked as an employee like many 1980s-born people.considered ungrateful by his boss, he resigned and started a path of risky yethigh-return entrepreneurship.
company profile: a wedding related integratedservice corporation, the jiahao group is aimed at the global upscale koreanstyle wedding service market. with an annual turnover of 10 billion yuan, it’sthe number one wedding brand in china. in 2014, founder allen shi created themyth of the industry by lifting the turnover from 30 million to 1 billionwithin 6 months.
this is the second interviewof tencent with allen shi within half a year. it’s not for his wealth, but forhis potential and the future and changes he can bring to the industry. thisinterview was also conducted in the office. walking through the 500-persone-commerce department of artiz studio amid the keyboard clicks, you could feelthe intensity in the air. the e-commerce battle was not only offline, but alsoonline. without a small talk, we got to business as soon as we sat down.
the jiahao group sponsored thesong joong-ki concert in shanghai
it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor themost intelligent that survives. it is the one that is most adaptable to change.
—darwin’s theory of evolution
tencent: the past six months have seenturbulences of the industry. many studios have shut down and quite a number ofstrong studios have suffered from an evident sales decline. some attribute thebusiness decline to economic downturn and reduction of marrying populationbase. what do you think about that? there is another tendency that users areincreasingly using varying mobile terminals to gain information. advertising inbaidu and other platforms is much less effective than it used to be. hence,many business owners who rely on these platforms have no idea what to do. howdoes artiz studio handle this change?
allen shi: the economic downtown haslittle impact on the industry, which can be seen from the better businessperformance of artiz studio this year than last year. yet the changes ofinternet environment on the industry do exist. the internet is an ever-changingworld. sometimes we do want it to stop changing, but that is impossible. thatis also the charm of internet. changes can bring opportunities and challenges.changes of the environment will definitely bring changes to how we deal withthe customers. if you don’t adapt to the changes, you will be soon eliminatedby the market. artiz studio changes its strategy every year, and we makeadjustments based on the changes of market environment, internet environmentand consumers every quarter. that’s the reason why we can keep an uptrend amidthe business decline of many studios.
the future is an era of“internet+ content”. rough promotions will be increasingly ineffective.obtaining customer assets by simple advertising in the past doesn’t workanymore. why can’t tv hosts earn as much as cyberstar hosts? why many cyberstarhosts can have an annual pay of dozens of millions yuan? that’s because theycan immediately interact with the audiences. such value of interaction isparticularly prominent in the era of mobile internet.
in response to these changesof internet, we have rolled out the strategies of casting a wide net, focusingon resource allocation, interaction and content. we had heavy investments inbaidu advertising. this year we stopped baidu advertising for a month and therewas little impact on our business.
tencent: now many industries talk aboutimplementing “internet+”strategy, but they launch online ads formalistically toembrace the internet. what do you think of that as a computer major?
allen shi: launching online ads isembracing the internet? take a simple example. uber and didi are hot andpopular. they have resolved many fundamental problems for consumers byeffectively connecting drivers with passengers, saving the expenses andtime-cost of passengers. and varied products are provided. passengers can takea special car, an express car or a shared ride, and even select vehicles thatoffer different comfort levels. it’s eco-friendly and totally different from ataxi. therefore, they have brought a significant impact on and change toconventional short-distance transportation. this is internet-based operation.internet+ in the wedding industry is not simply receiving orders online. it’sabout establishing an ecosystem and a model that can change people’s wedding,spending and lifestyle. artiz studio will have plans in these aspects in thenext 5 years.
tencent: some business owners ask mewhether the key to the quick rise of artiz studio is to have a 500-persone-commerce team for operation and channel expansion?
allen shi: if you can run a successfulbusiness by establishing a 500-person e-commerce team, then success will cometoo easily. to grow a successful business, copycatting won’t do. the businessowner must have his own values and business positioning. it’s highly distinctivelike the soul and label of a business. for example, some aspire to be thenumber one in the industry and some want to be the best in the industry. it canactually decide how far a business can go. we have a 500-person e-commerce teamwhich matches with our customers’ spending ability and advertising. it’s not ajust a number. therefore, we must learn to see the essence and get to know whyothers do it and whether it’s suitable for your own business.
allen shi attended the openingceremony of branch store in korea
he never attacks his rivals.
tencent: vicious competition can becommonly seen in the industry, such as work and product plagiarizing, price waror even dirty tricks. how do you feel about that?
allen shi: the jiahao group has alwaysrevered its rivals. we never take the initiative to attack others, but thatdoesn’t mean we can’t! we have established a 24-h public opinion monitoringsystem. we have kept track of what business owners on what platform slander usand taken countermeasures. the market is fair and the consumers are smart. wedon’t win by attacking rivals, but by product innovation and service upgrade.you can’t achieve the number one place in the industry by slander andcopycatting. we don’t and won’t resort to vicious competition.
allen shi and the employees ofkorean store
about the products: he believes that wedding photography ischicken soup for the soul.
tencent: as to the essence of weddingphotography, why do you think people take wedding photos?
allenshi: why people take wedding photos?wedding photography is chicken soup for the soul. men and women do it fordifferent purposes. for men, they take the wedding photos to prove that whatthe woman he loves does is something meaningful, affirm the decision of hisgirlfriend and a gesture to make his wife happy. for women, they take thewedding photos to keep her princess look, and leave happy, beautiful and youngmemories.
tencent: trip shoot is very popularnowadays. some believe it’s shooting by the sea, and some consider it amoney-saving combination of honeymoon and travel. can you share your opinionabout trip shoot?
allen shi: i think it’s an attitude, alifestyle and an expression from the depth of one’s heart.
allen shi and ye di attendedthe employee bonus distribution ceremony
about the team: he loves recruiting poor people and highly-educatedpeople.
tencent:things are done by people. thequick rise of the jiahao group is indispensible from people. i believe you haveyour own philosophy about staffing. can you share it with us? how manyemployees jiahao has? how they are effectively managed?
allenshi: i love recruiting five typesof people: “the bunnies”, the poor, armymen, technical talents and backbonemembers of rivals. they have extraordinary strengths. for example, the poor areambitious about income; the armymen are strong in execution; technical talentscan effectively resolve the problems; the backbone members of rivals know aboutthe industry. furthermore, i have a 39-bunny team. they are the 1990s-borngraduates from prominent universities. some are master’s degree holders andsome are overseas returnees with excellent reading, aesthetics andcomprehension. i bet my future on them. they will exert a great impact on thefuture of the group.
tencent: the jiahao group is nowstaffed with 5,000 employees, 60% of them hold an associate degree and above.how to manage such a massive team?
allen shi: it’s quite simple actually.for one thing, establish corporate culture; for another thing, impart thetechnologies. generally speaking, you have to allow the employees to learn fromyou, and give them room for development and money-making opportunities. whenthe systems are well established, management won’t be an issue.
tencent: quite a number of elites havejoined your platform. how do you find them and retain them?
allen shi: i am a fan of borrowlism. ilove to use headhunters. many members of our great team are snapped from othercorporations, including former executives of huawei, former directors of ibm,former regional president of viewsonic, and former marketing director fromluxury industry; some are the heads of domestically strong photography studios,overseas returnees, korean, french, taiwanese…they can work independently andrealize their value soon after they start working.and they can complement thebusiness in many aspects. as far as talent retaining, i always believe that youcan’t retain high-caliber employees if you can’t give them a future. employeeresignation is normal, but resignation of a group of employees indicates thatthe operating system is not right. enterprises in which the husband manages thebusiness, the wife manages the money and the father-in-law guards the door cannever find first-class talents.
allen shi gave a lecture atthe east china university of science and technology
how to attract future users?
tencent: the wedding photographyindustry is an industry servicing the young people and targeted at the 1990sand 2000s born as future customers. how do you think we should learn the newthings to maintain a high degree of sensitivity towards consumer demands?
allenshi: i am confident in learningabout future consumer demands. i have different groups of friends. while someare industrial elites and some luxury executives, others are copywriters,cyberstars and 1990s born. i often talk to them and learn about their ideas andopinions. i have also recruited many 1990s born employees to better understandthe ideas and spending philosophy of the 1990s born.
allen shi works very hard as aboss.
the corporate gene atestablishment makes the difference of each company.
tencent: a certain brand is a quitesuccessful company in the industry, whose founder also works his way up likeyou. you are both successful and a role model in the industry. however, i alsofind that you are profoundly different. such difference may reflect how the1960s and the 1980s think and see things different. what do you think of that?
allen shi: the corporate gene isdetermined from the first date the company was established, which is the bossgene. he has always been someone i admire for years. the success of the companycan’t be separated from his hard work and persistence. an expert in all aspectof the industry, he is adept in establishing systems and procedures. under aflat organizational structure, the stores are operated with independent systemsfrom manpower to finance. there is a high percentage of people management.different from them, jiahao adopts the “platform-based + personalized” systems.first of all, we ensure that personal value is realized on this platform. ibelieve that only personal value is realized before the corporate value can berealized. second of all, the jiahao group is run under a group-based matrixorganizational structure with a low percentage of people management. it’sprimarily supported and realized by systems, which is greatly different fromother studios. there is no right or wrong, good or bad. each has its ownstrengths.
tencent: a certain studio was widelyrecognized as the industry’s number one brand in china in terms of brand awarenessand annual turnover. however, it was soon topped by artiz studio. what do youthink about that?
allenshi: i have never cared aboutbeing number one. and i don’t mind being the trendsetter or trend-follower.what we do care are business performance, industrial structure and futurechanges brought to the industry.
allen shi and his mother weredelighted at the achievements in 2015 and hopeful for the future at the 2016annual meeting
who is the leader in the industry with a wealth of youngtalents?
tencent: many companies claim that theyare the industry leader. a studio with an annual turnover of 50 million yuandares to declare itself a pacemaker. how do you think of that?
allen shi: different goals will lead to differentcognitive evaluations. those who can paint are not necessarily painters; thosewho can sing are not necessarily singers. what is an industry leader? he mustwin the appreciation and recognition of rivals, and have the spirit ofcraftsman. a claim of industry leadership means nothing unless you deliver. isee myself as a confucian businessman. i look up to and submit myself to theindustry. i have a sense of mission that hopefully one day i can make it a bigindustry, help the employees buy houses and vehicles, share an effectivemanagement model, groom chivalrous management talents, and grow the businessinto one of china top 300 enterprises.
tencent: thank you for your time.
allenshi: thank you, miss xiaoxue.thanks for having me.
allen shi took the executivesto korea on his private jet for a tour survey
beneath the glory is relentless hard work and sweat
as a 1980s born young man, allen shi is successful. as a head ofa mega group, he is shrouded in a halo every day. he has luxury rides andprivate jets, and amazing friends that make you envy! beneath the glory,however, is relentless hard work. allen shi is not a rich second generation. hefinished his college study on a work-study basis. everything he has now isearned with hard work. therefore, he knows why continuous efforts are needed.eventhough he works until two or three o’clock in the wee hours or stay up allnight, he will always sit in his office at 9:00 o’clock every day. just as hesaid, there is a long way from reality to dream.
the day after the interview, iwas honored to attend a group meeting of jiahao. the regional presidents, storegeneral managers and store managers all attended the meeting. from the videoreview to corporate value implementation and to the bonus ceremony in whichquite a number of employees received a monthly bonus of 300,000 yuan, theadvanced ideas of “individual+ platform, system-based operation” of the jiahaogroup could be felt everywhere. as the helmsman of the group, allen shi putshis words into actions.
allen shi planned the futureexpansion of artiz studio in front of the map
allen shi is one of myfavorite interviewees for his good education, knowledgeableness, sense ofhumor, wittiness, refinement and cultivation. during the interview, he shonelike a star and talked like a master of wisdom. you would believe that he isthe future of the industry. allen shi is so much about how many wealth legendshe creates. we expect a true industry leader who can steer us on a betterdevelopment path for the industry and map out a blueprint of wedding industry chain.