Editor’s note: This originally appeared on the China Business Cast. China Business Cast is a podcast featuring experienced entrepreneurs and business people making things happen in China. If you want to learn from on the ground accounts of how business actually gets done in China, this is the program for you.

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51Talk is China’s leading online English education platform. The company’s mission is to make quality education accessible and affordable, and through their online platform, they enable millions of students across China to take live, one-on-one interactive English lessons with North American teachers.

James is the North American Marketing Manager at 51Talk. Before his work at 51Talk, James worked at several fintech companies and was most recently based in San Francisco where he ran the business development segment of his previous company. He is now based in New York City, where he focuses on growing 51Talk’s operations and teacher community in the west.

Robyn is a Senior Editor at 51talk, Linkedin influencer in the education sector, and education reporter.


  • Robyn talks about her first responsibilities in 51Talk and a bit about her background
  • Robyn and James talk about their positions at 51Talk, the qualities necessary for such roles, and what one has to bring to the table in order to make worthwhile contributions
  • How was 51Talk started?
  • Question from China Business Cast audience (James): How did 51Talk start prior to its fundings? What was the strategy back then considering there were giants in the industry such as English First and Vipabc?
  • How 51Talk is doing things differently from their competitors
  • James talked about how he connects with students and teachers and how he engages with them. He gives an example of one thing that worked really well and something that was a total failure
  • Question from Nicholas, a listener from the WeChat group: How did you manage to reach 8,000 – 10,000 teachers?
  • (Robyn) As a LinkedIn influencer who reaches a very large crowd, what does this role really mean within the LinkedIn platform and how is this position attained?
  • Robyn and James recommend two books that they recently read
  • How people can get in touch with Robyn and James

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TechNode Guest Editors represent the best our community has to offer: insight and perspective on how technology is affecting business and culture in China