Entrepreneur Interview – BewithDTR

Every year, hundreds and thousands of Chinese students are considering opportunities to study abroad. This is a huge lucrative market for training schools such as New Oriental to provide full suite of services to help students achieve their dream of international study. New Oriental School is the first language training school that went public at NYSC in 2006. Since then, hundreds of language training schools and international consultancy service booming at an incredible speed. These schools provide TOEFL, GMAT, LSAT, GRE, SAT test preparation classes and experienced overseas studies consultants work closely with students throughout the entire process of preparing to go abroad: from school selection and application, to scholarship applications, to the visa and immigration process, to practical assistance such as locating student and off-campus housing.

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BewithDTR is an international study training institution providing TOEFL, SAT and US college application consultancy service based in Shanghai, China. It is named after the owner, young entrepreneur, Dong TangRong. Before starting the company, he used to work for New Oriental School. He started worked as a part-time English teacher at New Oriental since junior year in college. After years in the New Oriental, an idea is generated and growing in his mind. That is, to build a learning community that’s totally different from what’s available in the market.

Like many of the young teachers who left New Oriental, DTR started his own training school – BewithDTR. Unlike many of them, he didn’t just copycat the model of New Oriental to recruit as many student as possible and provide all kinds of language training and international study consultancy. He chose to only focus on US college application and TOEFL and SAT tests, which are the preliminary tests for US college application. The way he disrupted the market is by provided small classes (15 students) including not only English, and subject matter training, but also other subjects as culture, history, politics, music, art, modern culture, etc to prepare the students to bridge the difference before they entered a different education system.

DTR was admitted to Columbia University for Education major in 2011 and observed great difference of the mentality and behaviors of Chinese students in US colleges. He found that, though many of them might score very high at academic subjects, they have little awareness to plan their future life and career. Thus, he wanted to start a small and intimate community based study group that would help these young students not only get admitted in the best school in the US but also build their all-round competitiveness to succeed in their life.

As he had built good reputation during his past job at New Oriental in the past years, DTR leveraged “Word of Mouth” from his past students and got constant referral resources. Unlike the other training schools that either set huge 100+ student classes or one-on-one tutoring service, he intentionally limit the size of his class size to 15 and set entry barrier to accept student. That is to say, he pick the candidate students that only meet his specific critiria.

In 2011, DTR started this first class of 20 high school student and helped them successfully get accepted to their dream school, including MIT and Wellesley. These student became the evangelists for his school thereafter. They are awarded as “Angel” Students and cherished as the most important people in his life.

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Blog 4

As a busy business school student, I generally don’t have much time shopping in brick and mortar stores. 90% of my clothes and shoes were purchased from online stores. Before I get included in the calculation of Labor Force Participation Rate, I use affiliated websites to monitor discounts and promotions of my favorite brands. www.dealmoon.com is one of the common ones I use. Meanwhile, since I have purchased in multiple websites of the branded products, I keep receiving hundreds of promotion emails every day.  During the last week,  I have visited websites of Uniqlo, Sephora, 6pm and ASOS through email links.

Thereafter, when I visit my facebook page, I could find the advertisement on the right lower corner the boots I checked on 6pm. This is on target, since I was really interested in the product.

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As I use Google Chrome as my default explorer and dealmoon.com generates income from Google Adsense, I can tell that among all the brands I have been following, Uniqlo has been advertising extensively. The recent items I checked on their website is shown on the right hand side, while the promotion items showed in a banner I continue to scroll down.  Though sometimes, these repeating advertisement might appear a bit redundant, they remind not only my historical records but also display the sales items that I might be interested in.

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Blog 3 – Userbrain — How to Get into the Head of your Customers

Userbrain adopts a subscription model that provides user testing service to companies who want to find out what users think about when visiting their websites. By Setting up a custom task for users, the company will able to watch how people use their website, and improve the website based on the feedback they get from the observation of users.

For example, one of the example is a user task: Imagine you want to sew a patchwork blanket for one of your friends. Try to find two fabrics that you think this friend would like, and put 3.5 meters of each into your shopping cart

Thus, I recommend three bloggers in UX, customer behavior analytics and start-up marketing:

 @jmspool

Exploring the boundaries of User Experience and United’s Customer Service. Founder @UIE, Co-founder @CenterCentre

@dharmesh

Entrepreneur. Founder/CTO @HubSpot inbound marketing and startup blogger at http://OnStartups.com .

@aagha

Founder & CEO, Metrical (@getMetrical) – Amazing customer experience through behavioral analytics

Specialized Interface of Group Communication — Onyx by Onbeep

Onbeep is a new startup company in San Francisco. Last November, it launched its very first product Onyx, a wearable voice communication product.

Onyx enables people to voice out to each other with wireless and cellular networks and connects to OnBeep app on IOS or Android phones with Bluetooth. This exquisitely designed product is easy to carry by simply clipping to the clothes and weighs only 46 grams. The target customers are groups of people who required frequent voice communication.

Since the product got launched, the company has publicized 300+ news, stories and posts on social media platform and online media websites. It also released TV coverage in 100+ markets and brought in great pre-orders. Onbeep hasn’t started SEO and SEM marketing approaches yet, but still gets 2000+ organic searches per month.

The value proposition is quite obvious. It liberate users from frequent checking their phones and switching among different message apps to communicate with large group of people. The pitfall is that the price of Onyx is fairly on the high end — $195 per pair. This the definitely a hurdle to be applied to household application. Besides, the product could expand its usage occasions such as outdoor activities if it entails radio wave transmission, considering cellular reception grows weaker in the outskirt of cities, not to mention wifi signals.

Dwellable – Redefining Vacation Rental Searching

Dwellable is a Seattle Start-up company providing online reservation service of vacation rental properties on its website and mobile applications. The founder and CEO Adam Doppelt is also the cofounder of Urban Spoon. According to him, the inspiration to build this company is a disastrous family trip experience in Hawaii. The pain point made him realize that a better searching site should be in place with objective and reliable searching results that redefines the searching experience in vacation rental market.

With the existing competitors such as AirBnB and Homeaway thriving in marketing, Dwellable is also targeting at travelers and property owners. The secret sauce for Dwellable’s quick tap into the market is its technology based visual designing, listing algorithm and listing free for property owners.

What worth mentioning in marketing that really sets Dwellable apart is that, by utilizing SEO/content marketing, thought leadership, App Store Optimization and social media, the company quickly gained public attention in short period of time and attract early adopters and fans at very low cost.

Moving forward, the challenges for Dwellable would be scale the business via strategic alliance with more property rental businesses, improving inventory and driving traffic without sacrifice of quality.