Maria Montero

This YC-backed startup prepares Chinese students for jobs …

In recent years, data analysts have moved from electives to a career that holds great promise, but the demand for applied quantitative skills in business decisions has outpaced supply, as the college curriculum often finds itself lagging behind the rapidly changing workplace.

CareerTu, a New York-based startup launched by a former marketing manager at Amazon, aims to close that talent gap. Think of it as Codecademy for digital marketing, data analytics, product design, and many other jobs that ask one to spot patterns from a sea of ​​data that can potentially drive business efficiency. The profitable six-year-old business runs a thriving community of 160,000 users and 500 recruiters including Amazon, Google and Alibaba, an achievement that has secured the startup a spot in the latest batch of Y Combinator plus a $ 150,000 check from the Mountain View-based accelerator.

In a way, CareerTu is helping budding tech startups on a tight budget by training out-of-the-box data experts. “American companies are in high demand for digital marketing and data talent these days … but not all of them want or can spend money on training, and that’s where we can come in,” said Xu, who made his way into Amazon after burying Herself in online tutorials on digital marketing.

The concert paid well, and Xu felt the need to share her experience with people like her: Chinese workers and students seeking data jobs in the US She took to blogging and eventually became an online school. CareerTu offers many of its classes for free, while you reserve a handful of premium content for a fee. 6,000 of its users are actively paying, which translates to about $ 500,000 in revenue last year. The virtual academy continues to flourish as many students return to become mentors, helping their Chinese peers to pursue the American dream.

Y Combinator founder Paul Graham (second left) with CareerTu founder Zhang Ruiwan (second right) and his team members / Photo: CareerTu

Getting a job in the US could be a daunting task for international students, who must convince employers to invest the time and money to obtain a work visa. But when it comes to wooing scary data talents, the visa trap becomes less relevant.

“Companies could have hired local people to do data work, but it is very difficult to find the right candidate,” Xu suggested. LinkedIn estimated that in 2018 the US had a shortage of more than 150,000 people with “data science skills,” finding application not only in technology but also in traditional sectors such as finance and logistics.

“Nationalities don’t matter in this case,” Xu continued. “Employers will be happy to apply for a work visa or even a green card for the right candidate that can help them save money on marketing campaigns. And many Chinese have strong backgrounds in data and math.”

A Chinese business in the United States.

Although the majority of CareerTu users live in the US, the business is primarily based on WeChat, Tencent’s messaging app is ubiquitous among Chinese users. That CareerTu sticks to WeChat for content marketing, user acquisition and mentoring is an example of the persistence of the super app’s users and how overseas Chinese are helping to expand its global presence.

And it makes more and more sense to keep CareerTu within the WeChat ecosystem after Xu noticed an increase in inquiries coming from his home country. In 2018, only 5 percent of CareerTu users lived in China, many of whom were export sellers on Amazon. As of early 2019, the share has soared to 12 percent.

Xu believes that there are two forces at work. For one thing, Chinese exporters are leaving Amazon to set up standalone e-commerce sites, efforts that are partly enabled by Shopify. entering China in 2018. The alternate path gives merchants greater control over brand, margins and access to customer information. Breaking through the e-commerce titan, on the other hand, requires Chinese sellers to become more adept at reaching foreign buyers, the expertise that CareerTu prides itself on.


CareerTu offers online courses through WeChat / Photo: CareerTu

Next door, big Chinese tech companies are increasingly turning to overseas to fuel growth. Bytedance is arguably the most aggressive adventurer among its peers in recent years, buying media startups from around the world, including, which would later merge with TikTok. In fact, some of CareerTu’s recent graduates have worked on the popular video app. Growing interest from China eventually paved the way for Zhang’s home as he recently established his first Chinese office in his hometown of Chengdu, the quiet city known for its panda parks and witnessing a tech boom.

Just as foreign companies need intensive WeChat courses before entering China, Chinese companies going global need to familiarize themselves with Facebook’s marketing mechanisms. and Google despite China’s ban on the social network and the search engine.