Young Tsinghua graduate makes it happen in digital video startup

by Monica Wang

Zhu Feng prepares herself for every challenge.

When she landed an interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during her journalism studies at Tsinghua University, she spent hours in the school library learning intimate details about the Middle East peace envoy, even the name of his dog. When she was learned she would interview the Pakistani president in three months, she took a crash course in Urdu, the nation’s official language. To learn how China’s economy operates, she switched career paths from journalism to finance and took a job at Minsheng Bank. A year and a half later, she was back in the media business with her own technology startup, which has put her in the headlines on both sides of the Pacific.


“My mother taught me that if you really want something, you need to fight for it,” Zhu said. “Thanks to her open education, I can make nearly every decision by myself as long as I can take responsibility on it.”

That can-do attitude has guided Zhu in the professional world, too. The founder of an innovative technology startup, Xingzhan TV, she was named to the buzz-generating “Forbes 30 under 30” list for Asia in April. After finishing first in her class at Tsinghua, Zhu is trying to conquer the world of digital video.

Conquering a man’s world through football

Zhu Feng has been a huge football fan for more than ten years. In 2014, she made her first program “German old boys” by a mobile phone in her study. She was inspired by the Ice Bucket Challenge, the viral video on social networking site. She predicted that video on social networking sites would become a new trend in the near future.

After Germany won the 2014 World Cup, Julie’s Football Show produced by Zhu Feng became popular on the internet, with a click rate over 4.7 billion on Youku.

Zhu Feng’s style of football tactical analysis attracted Liu Jianhong, a senior football commentator from China Central Television. Liu invited her to join him as a co-host in his program and cooperated with Xu Yang, a Chinese international football star.

In the next seven months, Zhu Feng produced her program by cooperating with Youku, Sohu and Iqiyi, well-known video websites in China. The number of employees in her studio increased from two to 12. Their average age is 25. Xingzhan TV is a platform for homegrown programs. Its slogan: “Make it happen.” Clearly, failure is not an option.

The arrival of the era of “video social networking”

Zhu Feng considers a multi-channel network with professionally generated content the best way to guarantee a continuous output of quality content — and to realize a stable profit. She considers the American video producer Maker Studio an example to emulate. As one of the biggest content producers, it obtains about 400 million subscribers.

Zhu Feng plans to make Xingzhan TV a Chinese version of Maker Studio. Xingzhan TV has obtained 23 video shows and its topics include films, finance, fashion and sports. Julie’s Football Show remains one of the most popular. The average age of Star TV’s employers is 25

Xingzhan TV has so far attracted more than 1.2 billion views. “Our platform can be treated as an investor, but we invest time and intelligence instead of money.” Zhu said.

Zhu acknowledges that she gets caught up in her work. In May 2015, Zhu Feng flew to six cities in a week and only slept for ten hours that entire week. “I was so obsessed with my work that I didn’t even want to sleep,” she said.

These days, Zhu tends to sleep in her office, and will take action immediately if she has a new idea, no matter the hour. “I have always felt that sleep was a waste of time,” she noted. “Why not get up and start working?”



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