By now nearly everyone has heard of Alibaba. Perhaps you have ordered from one of their websites, or you are just simply in awe of the behemoth that managed to conquer the global E-commerce market in such short time. Now how did this all start? And what does beer have to do with it?

Back in 1995 a man called Jack Ma decided to visit the United States for the first time, right after he decided to quit his job as a schoolteacher. He had recently started a company specialized in translation to capitalize on the thriving success of the export industry in China. During his stay in the US, a friend decided to introduce him to the Internet and told Ma that he could search and find nearly anything on the Internet.

Ma decided to search the Internet for Chinese beer, however to his surprise his search did not yield a single Chinese option. In fact, none of his searches on China yielded any results. This is when he decided to create ‘China Pages’. A platform used for different Chinese companies to search for customers abroad.

China is set to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest beer market in value by 2017, according to a EuroMonitor International report.

Even though ‘China pages’ did not become a success, the Internet and its endless possibilities mesmerized Ma. Nevertheless 4 years after his attempt at an online business, some even say the very first online business of China, he decided to start a new one: in 1999 he founded Alibaba.

In 2017 Alibaba has since been estimated to have an impressive market value of $264.9 billion; ranking it in the top 5 of largest Internet companies worldwide. These numbers are a great indication of the popularity of e-commerce in China but also of the opportunities to sell in a market that is vastly expanding and in demand of new Western products.

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