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I spend 3 weeks a year waiting for websites to load

by Alex Duncan  |  July 23, 2011 – 12:28 pm

For the past 6 months I have been losing 2-3 hours per week in productivity and this time it’s not due to my hideous, world beating, ability to procrastinate. It’s due to the chronic state of the internet in China.

Why can’t more people do everything?

by Alex Duncan  |  July 12, 2011 – 10:19 am

When it comes to building websites I’m constantly surprised and a little disappointed by the number of people I meet who are only really capable in one or two of the key skill areas and whose knowledge of the other areas is at best vague. I just don’t understand why or how these people think that is good enough.

Maybe I’m not as strong as I thought I was

by Alex Duncan  |  July 10, 2011 – 8:59 am

coffee, muffin and panini in starbucks

After 10 days in 大连 (Dalian) eating almost only Chinese food this morning I snapped. At 7am I got on my bike determined to find something a little more homely. I’ve always liked to think I’m the sort of person who if it came to it could live in a forest quite happily surviving on nuts an berries a bit like Ray Meers and Bear Grylls do. After this mornings Starbucks quest I’m starting to question this conceited notion.

Inspirational People

by Alex Duncan  |  July 9, 2011 – 2:46 pm

On Friday we had the first ‘founders stories’ session and heard the two co-founders from another team tell their very personal stories of how the came to be doing what they’re doing. I’m obviously not at liberty to share other people’s stories, suffice to say it was a fascinating session and gave me deeper respect for the two people in question.


Survey Time

by Alex Duncan  |  July 8, 2011 – 1:55 pm

My mentors are always telling me about the danger of assumptions. So to try and get some real user insights I’ve spent the past couple of days assembling this survey.

I Bought a Bike

by Alex Duncan  |  July 4, 2011 – 8:20 am


fter only 3 days in 大连 (Dalian) the withdrawal symptoms from not riding my bike were simply too great and I had to go and buy myself a bike. Early on Sunday morning I took a tram into the centre of town, typed “bike shop” into Google maps on my phone and made a beeline for the nearest store.

What is McDonald’s Strategy in China?

by Alex Duncan  |  July 3, 2011 – 3:52 pm


Just what is the big M up to in China. In a reversal of their US fortunes they lag far behind their rival KFC largely due to the fact that Chinese people prefer fried Chicken to Beef Burgers. On one hand they are adapting to Chinese consumers, in 2009 McDonald’s introduced a couple of new chicken options which rapidly became some of their most popular items. On the other hand their stores seem to be undergoing some kind of wolf in sheep’s clothing cum Starbucks knock off transformation and there are clear signs it’s not really working.

How did I end up here? Part 1

by Alex Duncan  |  July 2, 2011 – 11:01 am

I sometimes experience a sense of disbelief when I take a step back and look at my life.

What the heck am I doing? Living in China, trying to build a company in the fashion industry…

How did it come to this? At what point did any of this seem like a good idea

If I try to trace it back, and I’m not trying to blame you here Mum, but I kind of feel like you’re very much the progenitor of this mild insanity I seem to have developed. When I was a little boy you always encouraged me to be adventurous told me I could be anything I wanted to be and I’m afraid to say I took you at your word. You sent me to drama exams which gave me empathy through teaching me how to pretend what it was like to be someone else be it Romeo, Bottom or MacBeth’s witches.

When I left school at 18 Mother encouraged me to take a gap year and head to Australia, that really opened up my eyes to how relatively easy it was to travel and see the world. The things I got up to in Australia (both naughty and nice) boosted further my confidence and as much as I learned a lot about Australia I also learned a huge amount about where I was from.

While a lot of people had just finished school by the time they arrived at university, by comparison I had already been out and seen and lived in a bit of the real world. I voraciously threw myself into all that university had to offer, theatre, rowing and student politics consumed far more of my time than studying Zoology did. I took what I had been told about “doing anything you want to do” and started to put it into practice with mixed results. During my time at university trips to South Africa, Egypt and New England gave furthered my fascination for travel.

All of this only begins to explain how I ended up here in China of all places. There is something more, why start a company? Those who have done it will tell you it’s the type of endeavour that only serious nut cases embark upon. All this can wait for part 2…

A New Phase : Expect More Blog Posts

by Alex Duncan  |  June 30, 2011 – 8:27 pm

I’ve just arrived in Dalian (大连) in the north of China to take part in a program that will give me a huge boost towards realising my dreams. The opening presentation was a mix of teasers of exciting things to come and gentle warnings about what is expected of me. One warning in particular struck a painful chord. Write one blog post per day!

I struggle to think of anything in my life before that I’ve intended to do and then actually stuck to so this will be a real test of my mettle. Can I actually say I’m going to do something and see it through. Anyone who has even the most cursory flick through my blog archives will find it a sporadic catalog of broken promises…well no more readers!

I will publish 1 blog post per day.

I’m almost 27 years old, I’ve been in Shanghai for almost 4 years it’s time I got a grip and started seeing things through. Please dear blog reader(s) hold me to account if I fail you!

Addicted to My Tracks

by Alex Duncan  |  June 20, 2011 – 10:57 am

Just last week I downloaded Google’s My Tracks app for android and I’ve been addicted ever since. Every time I get on my bike to go anywhere in Shanghai I open the app, click record and it tracks my every move giving me great data on my speed, elevation and ride time.