Shoplazza founder and CEO Jeff Li, ex Baidu, on leadership

Named in Fortune China’s 40 under 40 for 2022, former Baidu head Jeff Li is the entrepreneurial founder and CEO of ecommerce platform Shoplazza

Entrepreneur Jeff Li keeps good company. As founder and CEO of leading ecommerce platform Shoplazza, Li has been named in Fortune China’s 40 under 40 for 2022 listed alongside the likes of Yiming Zhang, Bytedance Founder, and Chris Xu, SHEIN CEO.

While a massive acknowledgement of Li’s entrepreneurial spirit and business prowess, the listing comes as little surprise given Li’s phenomenal professional success.

As the former head of Baidu’s internationalisation division, Shenzhen-based Li led the team to create a number of Baidu’s international tens of millions of products. In 2017, he went on to found Shoplazza, since growing the startup to become the leading SaaS platform for cross-border ecommerce, serving more than 360,000 merchants worldwide, with consumers from 150+ countries and regions.  

How does it feel to be named in Fortune China’s 40 Under 40 for 2022?

I am honoured. This is more of a recognition of our company and team. There are many outstanding entrepreneurs on the list, and I see many I can learn from. They inspire me to do things better. The market is changing every day, and the only constant is to be the best at what you do.

What does Shoplazza do, in a nutshell?

Shoplazza provides a set of code-free systems for merchants, and they use the system to build their branded e-commerce website for global consumers.

What motivated you to take the leap from working at Baidu to setting up Shoplazza?

I had been doing international business at Baidu for many years, and so had seen the differences in economic, technological and Internet development in various countries and regions around the world, and at the same time seen the unique advantages and opportunities that exist among them.

China has the unique advantage of a strong supply chain and industrial belt. In the future, the world will become more efficient. For example, commodities will reach consumers with higher efficiency. This is precisely the change that technology and the Internet have brought to the world. I see a huge opportunity to utilise technology to deliver the products or build new brands more quickly.

What have been the biggest challenges of your role to date?

The biggest ongoing challenge is whether to allow more people in the team to make continuous iterative progress, and how to achieve an optimal state in the face of organisational scale and efficiency.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I would say my style is modelled around persistence – remaining unshakeable in the face of countless unknown challenges, and always with a day one mentality. This means both mentality and action must be consistent over time, while also finding adaptability in the changing environment to better persevere. I provide the team with additional value in vision and mission, and these values are not just strategic and business-related, but on how to face challenges.

What’s the best piece of leadership advice you’ve ever received?

To engage in continuous reflection, and rational and objective thinking, to be able to have dialectical thinking and see things from multiple perspectives.

Who do you look up to in terms of leadership and mentorship?

Frankly speaking, I think every leader is worth learning from. I’m someone who benefits a lot from daily communication and exchanges with others, but I also greatly appreciate thinking, reviewing and reflecting. 

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

Take more time to study. Think about what will give you sustainable, compounding value, and do things that are truly valuable, especially those things where you think you can add value or improve on what has gone before.

Finally, what’s the plan for Shoplazza in the next 12 months?

The focus will be growth of global merchants based on different markets, as it involves different habits, cultures, ecological infrastructure, and so on; and how can we better take these factors into account and provide a product with more differentiated value. This will be key.

This article appears in the September issue of Business Chief magazine. Click here to read the full issue.

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