Lessons for entrepreneurs from Taobao University

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When it comes to business advice, there are few people better placed to bestow their wisdom than Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Good job, then, that he set up a university to share tips on the meteoric rise of one of the group’s leading companies, Taobao.

Situated in Hangzhou, China, Taobao University is made up of a faculty of senior management from the online marketplace and offers lectures on building a digital business.

CNBC Make It met one woman who attended the university. She said it revealed just how far ahead the company is in its e-commerce strategy and the insights it holds on its almost 600 million monthly active users.

“I was there a week and I learned so much,” said Genecia Alluora, who is founder of Soul Rich Woman, an advice platform for female entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia.

“They are really educating China and Southeast Asia about what it means to be digital today,” she said, citing the company’s expertise in consumer psychology and behavioral patterns.

“We’re still very Western in our strategy: we need to tie together Eastern and Western strategies.”

Thirty-five-year-old Alluora was selected to attend the university as part of an e-commerce program led by Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic. Typically, students of the university are Taobao merchants or aspiring entrepreneurs, who attend courses of anywhere between a few weeks and months.

Here are her three key takeaways.



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