Martin Suter, a self-described “serial startup guy,” is the Head of eCommerce in China for ZX Ventures. Martin started with ZX Ventures as the Global Director of eCommerce Corporate Development in New York City before moving to Shanghai to lead the ZX Ventures China team. He previously worked with numerous global technology startups, including FlashStock, Grid Ventures, Syncapse, and BelAir Networks. Martin had the following to say about his experience with ZX Ventures and AB InBev.
What have you and your team accomplished recently?
In China, “double 11,” November 11, is a huge sales day. To put it in context, Black Friday in the United States yielded around $3.2 billion in online sales revenue. On double 11, through the Tmall site (which is China’s largest online marketplace) only, the total revenue was $17.5 billion. Though only about a third of online sales in the U.S. are from mobile devices, in China, more than 80% of online sales are mobile. So eCommerce here is huge. This year, we brought Budweiser up from zero and made it the #1 online beer sold in China. On Tmall, we’ve got Budweiser and Corona in the first- and second highest-selling spots. It’s a huge accomplishment in the short span of time we’ve been focusing on this market.
What brought you to ZX Ventures?
I’ve mostly been involved in technology startups, so this is my first experience with FMCG, or fast-moving consumer goods. But I’d worked with a friend who was at AB InBev, and he recruited me to work with ZX Ventures. He knew from my serial startup work that I loved that ability to build a company and grow something meaningful—something that will outlast my own presence with a business.
ZX Ventures is a unique opportunity for a startup company because we have a single, patient investor, through AB InBev, that allows us to really focus on operations and building the business. Usually with a fledgling startup, capital is a concern; you’re always having to court and close new investors. It’s a fun challenge to do that, but it’s also a distraction from running the business itself. Here, as long as we continue to execute and drive business toward our North Star dream, we’re assured of having the capital we need.
What are you looking for in terms of new hires at ZX Ventures?
Culture is an important aspect, both at ZX Ventures and at AB InBev generally. I’d heard about it before I started here, but I’m still amazed by how critical a good cultural fit is for the business. We can teach people whatever functional skills they need, but they’ve got to come in with a motivation to do incredible work. I need to see that passion and drive—if that’s there, we can work with whatever new hires already know and find a role for them. Actually, I resist job descriptions, because roles are always fluid and developing here. In today’s world, and especially with a fast and agile startup like ZX Ventures, adaptability is a key skill.