How a foreign start-up company makes a fortune on Chinese digital – New Case Study


Lately, a start-up WeChat Spoken-English training company, Yoli becomes increasing popular amongst Chinese English learners, due to its inspiring integration of Chinese online media. Since launched in this February, Yoli already held 50 thousand one-to-one speaking classes on WeChat.

By leveraging the native features on WeChat, Yoli allows Chinese English learners to have their instant speaking classes through their WeChat with a native English speaker at anywhere and anytime. Moreover, through an effective communication on YY Live, the most popular Livestream app in China, Yoli earns a huge group of loyal consumers and the user number keeps growing at a fast speed. So how did they do that?

Using WeChat innovatively

Taking the advantages of WeChat Enterprise account, Service account, and its developer API(Application Program Interface)’s, Yoli built up its entire business on WeChat, as a WeChat app. (Notes: Enterprise accounts are meant for the internal management of a company’s operations through WeChat)

Students learning English can follow Yoli WeChat Service account and instantly take a 15 minute 1:1 spoken English class on top of WeChat. For English tutors, they follow the WeChat Enterprise account and can instantly select students to tutor in easy 15-minute sessions. Similar to Uber, Yoli’s backend handles the student-teacher matchmaking, creating the learning session via its WeChat accounts.

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Yoli enterprise account and service account are working together with the help of Yoli server.

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How to use Yoli WeChat App? On the top: the student’s site, Yoli WeChat Service account
At the bottom, the tutor’s site, Yoli WeChat Enterprise account

Communicating in a local way

Based on the collection of its direct real-time communication data, Yoli understands what consumers really need when they are learning English – Interaction and Fun.

Thus, they went to the ‘bar’ where their targets usually hang out online – YY Live to engage with them closely. Every Monday night at 9 pm, there will be a Yoli YY live released. As a result, this bespoke approach generates ‘this guy knows us’ feeling amongst the public.

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Yoli English tutor, Luke was in Time Square and having the livestream session with Yoli students on YY Live.

Why it becomes so successful?

As a foreign start-up company, the company totally immerses itself into Chinese media. Besides the high-tech – the Uber-like selection system, the company’s personal approach and the sense of communicating in ‘consumers’ context’ help it thrive.

About Author

Cherry Han

Cherry Han is a Consumer Research Specialist at Resonance. Graduating from Newcastle University, with a Masters degree in Media and Public Relations, she has more recently set her sights to deciphering the behavior of Chinese netizens – particularly her fellow post-90s.

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