From foreigner to Beijinger

Updated: 2018-05-22

China's reform and opening-up drive, along with other efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, is motivating many people, including foreigners, to start businesses in the country.

China Daily website produced a series of videos that offer a glimpse into China's improving business landscape and how foreigners are starting businesses in a wide range of sectors.

This is the second in the series.

After running a company for 16 years, Michael Wester said he was a “fake entrepreneur,” because he wasn’t running the business for money, but in order to "make people happy".

The idea to run the company originated from his experience in Taiwan, where he worked as an editor for a newspaper. He found that a lot of foreigners saw Taiwan as boring then, so he decided to write a column introducing the local lifestyle and entertainment, and indeed it helped change people's attitudes.

Optimistic about the immense opportunities in mainland China, especially in Beijing, Wester set up his own company, but the road was not always smooth because of cultural differences and an intercultural office environment.

"Basically you would make mistakes constantly, but the big cliché is, you learn a lot more from your failures than you do from your successes," he grinned, saying those difficulties were only something to be continuously worked on.

Facing the increasingly competitive media industry, Wester and his company are trying to change products according to people's needs. They held offline activities such as pizza and burger festivals and brought a good turnout.

But he said he would stop doing them if the two festivals become too popular, because he wants to be creative and bring people new things.

"Maybe next year we will have a noodle festival," he said.

Talking about China's opening-up, he said it was a good opportunity for people going outside the country and bringing back new ideas. That's how innovation usually comes about.