Course Outline: First Steps (i.e., Level 1)

Welcome to the class!

The approach for this class is steady, consistent progress, which is not unlike climbing a mountain. When you are looking up at a mountain, it can seem daunting. But it always begins with a couple of steps to get moving. That is the goal for today. To take the first steps.

In the below graphic, you can see the first steps for this level. And the first one is easy. Just listen the podcast located below.

Listen to the First Steps Podcast

Start a Journal

As I said in the podcast, if you can’t write it, you don’t know it.

Forcing yourself to write down an idea (or an answer to a question) makes you be more active. And it forces you to really understand something. So you really want to keep a journal and write down your own explanations. It is also a good way to build out and record your thinking over time.

My own process is:

  • Take notes on my phone and on paper (while reading and listening to podcasts).
  • Screenshot these and put them in an online folder. I use Dropbox, which syncs to my laptop.
  • Over time, I re-write my notes into PowerPoint pages, which becomes my master list.

There are lots of ways to do this. But the important thing is to record what you are learning by writing it down. And to have an easy way to edit and add to this thinking over time.


For First Steps, there are just two Learning Goals.

Learning Goal 12: The Basics of Tiktok / Douyin and Audience-Builder Platforms

Learning Goal 15: The Basics of Didi and Switching Costs

  • Marketplace platforms for services are different from those for products. And they can vary between differentiated services like hotels and restaurants (Ctrip and UberEats) and standardized services like transportation. Didi is a good example of the latter. They can also go from simple services (this learning goal) and more complicated ones (e.g., medical care).
  • The key learning goals for you in this section are:
    • Basics of Didi
    • Switching Costs
  • Listen and read:
    1. A Day in the Life of a Didi Chuxing Driver (Pt 1 of 3)
      1. Write 3 paragraphs in your journal about how Didi attracts and retains drivers. What 2-3 things matter the most for attracting and retaining?
    2. Why Didi Needs Driver Switching Costs. Uber Too (Jeff’s Asia Tech Class – Podcast 23)
      1. Write 3 paragraphs in your journal on three different types of switching costs Didi could have with drivers. Financing of cars? Membership programs for repair discounts? Auto or health insurance?
    3. Didi Is Rapidly Building Out Driver Services. This Is Really Important. (Pt 2 of 3)
      1. Write 3 paragraphs on should Didi Driver services be offered to all car owners of China? Which is the killer service that would drive adoption?
    4. How Didi And Ride-Sharing Are Different in Brazil: My Visit to 99 HQ. (Pt 1 of 3)
      1. Write 3 paragraphs on why you think Didi chose to compete directly in Brazil (owner of 99). They have only operated directly in Brazil and Mexico. Any reason?
    5. WeChat Work and Why Enterprise Tools Will Be Very Different in Mobile-First China
      1. Write: How WeChat Work and other enterprise tools can create switching costs? Which is most powerful?


You should try to complete these in 2 weeks. Then go on to Level 2.

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