Zhejiang ShiningHub Co., Ltd.
Zhejiang ShiningHub Co., Ltd.

Phoenix Weekly Interview | Justin Chen, the “Principal” Chasing the Right Path in Foreign Trade

At TradeAider’s office, Hangzhou, we met Justin Chen, who was discussing the latest Internet hot topics with his team members. Wearing glasses, Justin Chen is far away from the image of a shrewd and capable businessman that many people have. He seems to have a magic affinity, always with a warm smile on his face, looking slightly sideways as he speaks, pausing to discuss complex issues before making his point in a way that was relatively easy to understand. His voice is low and soft, and his mouth pops out one or two current buzzwords every now and then, lighting up the room. The perfect blend of these characters makes Justin Chen less of an entrepreneur and more of a respected principal on campus back in those school days. Younger members of Justin Chen's entrepreneurial team like to call him "Principal".

But surprisingly, compared to "boss" or "Mr. Chen", Justin Chen himself prefers to be called "principal" by his employees. From school to business startup, and then running a growing business, learning runs through every stage of Justin Chen's life, so he has a natural affinity for the name "principal".


TradeAider (Zhejiang ShiningHub Co., Ltd.) is not Justin’s first company. In 2009, Justin started a new master's degree in senior management at Changjiang Business School. In 2010, Justin’s foreign trade enterprise, founded after graduating with a bachelor's degree, runs stably after years of development. But this year, at the age of 48, Justin Chen made an incomprehensible decision at that time: to switch to a whole new sector and build a new entrepreneurial team, combining "the Internet plus" and "trade" to create a new Internet trade service platform. And he persisted for 12 years, all the way to today.

At present, TradeAider has formed "one main five subs" business functions and continued to innovate in the field of integration of domestic and foreign trade, leaping to become the leader in the Internet trade service platform industry. In the second decade after its establishment, TradeAider will achieve qualitative change through its excellent comprehensive strength and foreseeable development strategy and inject new momentum into the development of the platform economy.


A game in a new sector

As one of the first batch of candidates after China resumed the college entrance examination, Justin Chen is a tangible beneficiary of the policy. It is because he seized the opportunity that he had the opportunity to learn English systematically in college, to lay the foundation for his future foreign trade services career.

"Every time I start a business, it is closely related to my study experience." Justin summed it up this way, "Initially I was studying English at the university, which led me to the foreign trade industry and founded the first foreign trade enterprise. Studying at Zhejiang University, I found a new development direction for the enterprise. After that, I studied at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business and became more determined to start a business, combining trade services and the internet, eventually establishing TradeAider. Justin Chen has a firm belief in lifelong learning. From his point of view, it is because of constant learning that TradeAider has been built and developed today.

In 2009, Justin Chen was 47 years old. He noticed the developing Internet in his further studies at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. Could the Internet promote the advancement and innovation of traditional industries? As a longtime entrepreneur, he was keenly aware of the potential business opportunities and bright development prospects behind the technology.

In 2010, 48-year-old Justin Chen broke down the prejudices and doubts surrounding him, formed a new team, and embarked on a new journey, the parent company of the global trade guarantee digital service platform "TradeAider", Zhejiang ShiningHub Co., Ltd. At the time, he did not expect TradeAider to be so fruitful.

Entering a completely new field, Justin Chen, who came from traditional trade, did not know much about the Internet. But knowing less does not mean that he would not learn and succeed. Therefore, in the early stage of entrepreneurship, Justin Chen began to make fundamental adjustments, change the traditional way of thinking and learn new knowledge of the Internet. This habit continues to this day and has become an important core spirit of TradeAider's learning and innovation.

Soon, Justin Chen, new to the Internet trade service sector, encountered difficulties. In 2010, the Internet was not popular, not to mention using the Internet to carry out trade services. The already small market had long been split up by top-ranked enterprises, and Internet talents were preempted by giants, resulting in a serious lack of talent in the market. In addition, new business models, large initial investments, the stereotype of internet platforms, and the fickle business atmosphere of the market have all made it difficult and time-consuming for TradeAider to enter the market.

Justin Chen, however, did not seem surprised by the situation. In his perception, the establishment of TradeAider is an adventure in a new sector and a difficult game with time and the overall situation. So, for a long time, Justin relied on his previous business income to support TradeAider’s operations.

"I didn’t think about making money when I founded TradeAider. If it’s just for money, honestly I don’t need to take the risk. According to our traditional view, my former enterprise, although not large scale, runs stably and profitably. But at the nascent stage of the Internet, market regulation has yet to be established. "China's foreign trade and real economy need entrepreneurs to drive and develop." Justin explained his intention of founding TradeAider, I want to do something for the country and China's import and export industry chain in global trading to solve difficulties and pains for companies. And, of course, I also want to reverse the rampage situation of counterfeit in the market. When we do business, opportunism is not an option. We need to keep our feet on the ground and take the right path. ”Justin Chen repeatedly stressed.


"Accumulate strength and wait for an opportunity."

"We are where we are today because national policies are driving the industry." Justin Chen said that a good market environment and national policies play an important role in the industry’s development. But facing the big wave of the era, only enterprises with a continuous strength accumulation and technical innovation capacity can seize the opportunity and keep up with the development.

At present, around the major needs of quality control in the international trade ecology and the goal of digital reform and high-quality development, TradeAider has established a large offline guarantee team composed of professional quality control personnel (QC) and organically combined with online digital tools such as blockchain and big data to explore a new model and new business model of service trade. It has opened up the era of digital intelligence quality control and helped trade and production enterprises to increase orders, reduce costs, promote efficiency and improve quality.

Justin Chen introduced: At present, the TradeAider platform has 90,000+ users, including 70,000+ QC, spread across 2,000+ counties and cities in China, covering 26 categories of products in the whole industry. Enterprise users have reached 20,000+, distributed in more than 70 countries overseas, including "the Belt and Road" "RCEP" and other countries along the route. Domestic users are all over the country in 34 provinces and cities. TradeAider has been commissioned by 4915 domestic enterprises, reaching 9441 production sites of their suppliers across the country for quality control needs. In addition, TradeAider has also made great progress in the inspection of factory audit and product quality control.

The success of TradeAider can not be achieved without cultivation and accumulation in those countless days and nights. In order to understand the market more clearly and gain insight into the needs of foreign trade enterprises, Justin Chen has gone deep into the internal fieldwork of enterprises countless times. This is also an important reason why TradeAider stands out from the crowd of Internet trade service platforms. Only by understanding the real situations and prescribing the right medicine for the pain in the practice of Internet foreign trade can we get out of the strange circle of pie-in-the-sky and empty talk regardless of reality. So that TradeAider’s initiatives of helping enterprises are more operable and practical.

Therefore, for a long time, Justin Chen led his team, sticking to the TradeAider, the Internet trade service platform, and the "front line" of the sharing economy with a genuine altruistic heart.

At the beginning of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the world. Nearly two and a half years later, the world still hasn't gotten rid of the virus from these global cases. For the entire foreign trade industry, the epidemic brought not only a hindrance but more like a fatal blow. Because of the global situation, many enterprises are unable to maintain even basic production operations. On the contrary, after a long time of accumulation and reserve, TradeAider has finally come alive in this desperate environment.

In the first half of 2022 alone, TradeAider increased its revenue by 50% of the original. "Because we've always been on the right path and never opportunistic, every step is stable. Only by taking solid steps and building up strength can we stand out at the critical moment. Chance favors the prepared mind." Justin Chen said, at the same time, for the rest half of 2022, he is optimistic about the development of TradeAider. "I think 100% growth, or even more, is possible. My team members and I are confident."


Cultivating the Enterprise and Talents, Staying True to the Original Aspiration

On October 23, 2016, after 6 years of hard exploration and practice, TradeAider.com, which coalesced with Justin Chen's countless efforts and expectations, was officially launched at the Canton Fair. In the six years since then, Justin Chen has been planning the future of TradeAider while "materializing" his original aspiration in practice.

As an entrepreneur with a strong humanistic spirit, Justin Chen has been focusing on the growth of “people” almost from the beginning of his business. Unlike general businessmen, he is not a completely result-oriented boss. Justin Chen is more concerned about the way and the feelings of his employees in the process. Based on this idea, he and his team had many collisions and finally discussed the core concept of TradeAider - “Seven Stars of the Big Dipper”. Staff First became the most shining one among them.

He has his explanation for the decision to put staff first: "Human effort is the deciding factor and people come first at all times." Employees are the most basic unit of a company. The company is destined to lose its vitality and strength without considering their feelings and giving respect." The years of immersion in the business world have not erased the traces of the era that Justin Chen belongs to. He always pays attention to the basic individual, household, and country.

The organic combination of heavy traditional virtues and new moral concepts bred by the market economy, respect for human values, and personalized management - in Justin Chen, the modern businessman's elegant and introverted, calm and dignified side is shown to the fullest.

"Justin Chen, who perfectly blends the world with the cultivation of his moral character, became a clear stream in the boiling materialistic environment at the beginning of his business. This quality is still visible in this leading figure in the Internet trade service industry today.

At the same time, in the direction of enterprise development, Justin Chen also adheres to his way. He believes that business is not just about making money and that we should not stop chasing the "right path" by simply being drawn to the flowers in front of us. For this reason, from the early stage to the stable development of the enterprise, Justin Chen and TradeAider always uphold this credo: to build a global shared QC platform, improving China's dominance and voice in the field of quality control in global trade.

TradeAider’s achievements today show that Justin Chen and TradeAider’s development have stuck to the original aspiration over the years. In addition to economic benefits, TradeAider has achieved social benefits: as an innovative Internet and third-party builder of global trade integrity system infrastructure, TradeAider focuses on practical problems such as product quality, counterfeiting, and, infringement of intellectual property rights that are of concern to the government, enterprises and the general public, using sharing economy theory and relying on modern technology to play its unique role in building integrity system and so on. A large, professional, low-cost, and high-efficiency integrity network is quietly being laid out.

Until now, after a busy day, Justin Chen still often thinks of the time when he started his business. Looking back, the initial heart of TradeAider seems precious and passionate. Guided by the original aspiration, Justin Chen and his TradeAider will keep finding their own path in the future.