A life worth cel­e­brat­ing with a toast

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XUJUNQIAN

Shen Kai has lived an event­ful life, es­pe­cially for one so young.

Just 36, Shen has worked at Google China, in­deed was the firm’s sec­ond Chi­nese em­ployee, for eleven years and said he re­cruited 60 per­cent of the sales team for the com­pany.

He has trav­elled to 105 coun­tries and count­less cities and coun­ties in China. On top of this, he sur­vived a plane crash, madea for­tune and suf­fered a bru­tal loss in the stock mar­ket and in his spare time, of which there is pre­cious lit­tle, he col­lects old fur­ni­ture, watches, knives, and shoes, the last of which has now been de­vel­oped into a moonlight busi­ness with a tai­lor-made work­shop in Shang­hai. His great­est achieve­ment? With­out doubt, his happy fam­ily.

Enough ex­cite­ment for many lives, but he has de­vel­oped a taste for craft beer, more specif­i­cally, brew­ing it.

In­vest­ing sev­eral mil­lion yuan of his sav­ings and five years of his life in a craft beer brew­ery and a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion, Ji­uhuaer, mean­ing yeast in Chi­nese, he is fully oc­cu­pied in re­al­iz­ing his dreams.

“I am done with work­ing for money,’’ he said. “I think I have found a blue ocean of un­con­tested mar­ket space and want to be the first to un­lock new de­mand. It’s a chal­lenge.’’

The quadru­ple ma­jor – fi­nance, his­tory, so­ci­ol­ogy and sta­tis­tics – started pro­gram­ming at the age of 15 and was head­hunted by Google at 24.

Wine, rather than beer, first caught his at­ten­tion. He sam­pled more than 1,200 types of wine, stud­ied 190 types of grapes and be­came a cer­ti­fied som­me­lier.

The type of per­son if in­trigued by some­thing, he will re­sort to ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to achieve his goal, he said.

But it was a sip of ale at San Jose dur­ing a busi­ness trip to Google head­quar­ters in 2008 that brewed the idea of start­ing a beer busi­ness of his own.

“Bai­jiu is out­dated,’’ he said and “wine is ar­ro­gant and not fun.’’

He com­pared wine to a blue­blooded princess, yel­low rice wine to an el­e­gant Chi­nese lady in a qi­pao, and craft beer to a sweet­nextdoor neigh­bor­hood girl, which es­sen­tially, peo­ple want to marry, or drink, for life.

He tasted over 700 types of craft beer be­fore, last year, he quit his job at Google to start his own com­pany.

“Craft beer ac­counts for about 20 per­cent of Amer­i­can’s to­tal beer con­sump­tion. InChina, the pro­por­tion is 1.5 per­cent. I es­ti­mate it will grow to 8 per­cent within the next five years.”

Anap­pre­ci­a­tion of al­co­hol runs in the fam­ily that has been linked with bev­er­ages for cen­turies. His name ac­tu­ally stems from Shen Yonghe, China’s fa­mous yel­low wine brand founded in Shaox­ing, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, in 1664 by his an­ces­tors.

With a team of 40 or so staff and the mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion, launched in 2015, Shen hopes to run more than a busi­ness. He wants noth­ing less than to re­shape na­tional at­ti­tudes to al­co­hol, one sip at a time.

His app, which car­ries in­for­ma­tion and re­views of 1,200 types of beer, has 30,000 ac­tive users.

“There are 800 mil­lion peo­ple in China who drink. My es­ti­ma­tion is that 780 mil­lion of them have yet to sam­ple craft beer.”

He started a 333,000-square-me­ter craft beer brew­ery in An­hui prov­ince, which pro­duces 500 tons of beer ev­ery year un­der the brand he founded: Ant Brew.

“The power of each ant is in­signif­i­cant. But to­gether, they are an over­whelm­ing force.’’

App users, he pre­dicts, could grow to more than 1 mil­lion as the taste for craft beer grows. He also wants his com­pany to go pub­lic. He be­lieves his goals can be achieved in five years. But what­ever tran­spires, he knows that his busi­ness sense will al­ways see him take up a chal­lenge. Cheers!

Shen Kai, founder of Ant Brew

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