Small Talk: Yi Shi

Small Talk: Yi Shi
For those who are not aware, Yi Shi, founder and CEO of Avazu Holding, recognized from Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 2017, has German routes and indeed studied at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main.
A must follow and a great source of inspiration for all of us.
Yi Shi, you now spend most of your time in China, but some years ago, it all started in Germany, right? Can you let us know a bit more about it?
I started as a webmaster in 2004, and became familiar with SEO in 2005/2006, I was running over 30 different web sites (forums, blogs and web directories) at that time in Germany (in Neu-Ulm and Hoechstaedt an der Donau). In 2007 I started my study at the Goethe University in Frankfurt and dropped out in 2009 to start my company Avazu Holding (moving back to Shanghai). The first major business of Avazu Holding is our mobile advertising business Avazu (now Avazu Holding owns multiple businesses), which became one of the largest companies in this area.
Your company offices in Berlin, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, Bangalore, Delhi, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, so How would you compare the difference between markets in your industry? and how would you describe the German Market?
The logics behind of emerging markets (SEA, BRICS) is mostly decision-making driven sorely by growth, while in wealthy countries like Germany, UK etc. people think more about their profit. Another big difference is German people are very process-driven, while Asian people mostly think about getting things done (sometimes without proper process).
Have you been following the evolution of Frankfurt Rhein-Main projects? Do you see some particular area that is interesting? or something that no-one is pushing?
Not that much to be honest, I haven’t been in Germany for several years now, unfortunately, but some of my friends have investments into Fintech companies in Frankfurt.
Would you share some pieces of advice to our readers when it comes to innovation?
When we talk about innovations, we typically associate it with outstanding products having a big success, but if we break it down, innovative products actually don’t necessarily mean success and to become successful you don’t need to be innovative. So economically seeing being innovative doesn’t generate the maximized returns, to drive innovations however, I think there’s a system needed where all parties inside of the system accept and tolerate failures and encourage learning from failures, that sounds theoretical, but in practice innovations and especially disruptive innovations often come from learnings out of a lot of failures, and sadly people love to talk about innovations but don’t really understand the dynamics behind with all the wastage (resource, time, money) associated with learning from failures.
What is the secret to your success? could you point one specific factor that is making a difference?
I always try to think outside the system and outside the box, with outside the system I always try to run the mindset with imagining myself inside of a chaotic system, where minor changes in initial conditions (different decisions) could greatly differ in results (butterfly effect). We are inside of a fast evolving industry full of randomness and to become successful you have to crack the underlying patterns to find a way out. Outside the box thinking is more related to problem-solving if we run into problems a lot of people tend to look around the problem instead of look inside of the problem, fundamentally every problem is solvable, it’s just a matter of the work-around a lot of times.
If you could turn back time, would you try to do something different when it comes to education, business or investments?
I don’t like looking back, and I always try to look forward with full optimism, mistakes and failures provide valuable learnings for success.
Are you still connected to Frankfurt and do you have plans to return one day?
I do, I started a foundation to support various projects involved in different areas at Uni Frankfurt (, as for the return date it’s not finalized yet.
Did you ever consider opening an office in Frankfurt? or What is stopping you?
We will run a small team very soon for one of my new ventures in Frankfurt 🙂
More about him:
And about Avazu:
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