Mike Zhang is the founder and CEO of Walnut co-working space in Chengdu, in southwestern China.
Born in China, grew up in Canada, Mike returned to China to found Walnut in 2015, the first co-working brand in Chengdu. Unlike most returnees or expats, Mike’s research took him to start in Chengdu, not the usual Tier 1 cities. A big thanks to Brodie Burns – Williamson from the Australian Consulate Chengdu for suggesting Mike as a good interviewee candidate.
Key points covered:
- Background to Walnut
- Why choosing Chengdu?
- Differences between Chengdu and a Tier 1 city.
- Walnut vs other co-working spaces: differences
- Thoughts on coworking space vs accelerators/incubators
- What are some of the interesting startups that have been in Walnut? Are they a reflection of the Chengdu startup scene?
- As a returnee Chinese, what are the difficulties faced and how to overcome them?
Favourite book: The House of Morgans by Ron Chernow
Favourite Chinese investor: Zhang Lei, Hillhouse Capital