Andrew Collins, Being a Laowai Entrepreneur in China


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Andrew Collins, came to China as a true Laowai (Alien) and made it, building the biggest Sports Digital Media Consulting business in the country and is now taking it globally. Amazing stories of how he got started, stuck with it despite all the challenges and made it work.

Key Highlights

  1. How Andrew got started as an Entrepreneur winning a University competition and catching the China bug early
  2. Never wanting a full time job, lessons from Jack Morton, sold his small retail business and decided to move to China
  3. Dream was starting a publishing business (in China), bought a company called Mailman in Shanghai which was an old postcard media sales business, losing money and owned by another foreigner
  4. The journey from Mailman’s original business to becoming a powerhouse in Sports Social Media consulting (Mailman & Seven League)
  5. Great examples of Mailman’s work and clients across Leagues, teams, athletes, sponsors
  6. China Social Media and new digital platforms in China from Short form video (from Douyin (Tiktok), IQIYI, Huya, Douyu to Youku)
  7. Demand for long form sports content for the top sports (Premier League & NBA) is safe but there are challenges for everyone else.
  8. The power of Chinese KOL/Influencers and Live Streaming platforms
  9. Esports in China and his views on E-gaming/Esports ecosystem in general
  10. Mobile Only culture
  11. Defining moments of being a Laowai Entrepreneur in China
  12. Raising US$ 30 mil in 2016 for global expansion & future plans & final lessons
  13. A bit about TSA


Andrew grew up in Wodonga, where he attended Wodonga Secondary College with his 2 brothers Sean and Liam.

Following high school Andrew moved to Melbourne to study business and media at Swinburne University where he completed his Bachelors degree. While at Swinburne he completed a semester abroad at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo. At university Andrew was very active, leading international student excursions, working at the University gym, playing Football, tennis and in his final year setting up a small, yet profitable import and retail business.

Andrew finished his studies with the Swinburne Chancellor Award for most outstanding entrepreneur with a $10,000 award and participated in a global technology summit in Singapore and Shanghai. It was on this trip which transformed Andrew’s view on the world and inspired the passion to build a career in Asia. With studies complete, Andrew began working part time for a global experiential marketing company Jack Morton. Worldwide, where Andrew supported on business development while also continuing to manage the retail business.

In 2005 Andrew sold the retail business, gave notice at Jack Morton and headed on a solo back-packing adventure around the world. He visited North America, Europe and Asia and developed a passion for travel.

Upon returning to Australia, no job, no business - Andrew decided he would explore setting up a company in Shanghai in media and publishing.

After 18 months of travel to China, 100’s of meetings with senior business owners and expatriates in the region he agreed to purchase a small little known media consulting business Mailman Ltd.

In 2007, as the new CEO of Mailman, Andrew moved to Shanghai to begin his next chapter. The company had 4 staff, was losing money, yet Andrew was optimistic he could turn it around.

After several years of trial and error, as Andrew and his new team developed capabilities in digital marketing with a focus on sports. Andrew repositioned the company, refined the brand and began a years long strategy to build credibility with the world’s leading sports organisations.

By 2016, Mailman was considered the leader across China, serving many of the worlds most iconic sports organisations including the NFL, UFC, Kobe Bryant, Cristiano Ronalda, Manchester United and more.

In early 2017 the company raised over US$25m from leading Chinese investors Yao Captial, Kaixin Capital, and WeCapital. With this capital the group continued to grow services, product lines and expansion geographically.

In 2018, Mailman acquired Seven League, at the time Europes leading sports digital consultancy. With this acquisition the group had a strong footprint across Asia and Europe.

Now, in 2020 Mailman is the world’s leading sports digital consultancy and agency. With over 200 staff across Europe, China, USA and Asia, the group serves over 100 international sporting organisations, athletes and teams across 54 global markets now including Chelsea FC, FIFA, NBA, Los Angeles Lakers, Juventus FC and more.

Andrew is considered one of the top 40 digital people in Asia, won multiple awards in entrepreneurship and innovation. He has appeared in Bloomberg, Fox, CNN, Fast Company, and Forbes and is widely recognised as a pioneer in the sports and digital industries in China and APAC.

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72 episodes