Podcasting startup The Peers Project lands “dream partnership” with Alibaba

The Peers Project

The Peers Project founder and chief Michelle Akhidenor (right) with Alibaba managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Maggie Zhou. Source: supplied.

Aussie podcasting agency The Peers Project has secured a partnership with Chines e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, producing a ten-part series exploring the entrepreneurial journey of young Australians.

Hosted by The Peers Project founder and chief Michelle Akhidenor, the series, called The Build Up, will feature Aussie first-time entrepreneurs, who share their own stories, challenges and lessons learned along the way — all focused around a different Chinese proverb.

Guests include the likes of Maeva Heim, founder of Bread Beauty Supply, and Sarah Agboola, chief of mtime, as well as Alibaba’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Maggie Zhou.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Akhidenor calls the collaboration a “dream partnership”. But, actually, Alibaba didn’t take much persuading.

Initially, she reached out with a simple LinkedIn message, then there was a Zoom call or two, and suddenly all ten episodes were lined up.

“It all happened very quickly,” she says.

“It is just about that persistence.”

Alibaba is, of course, one of the biggest tech success stories in the world. But, Michelle says it’s also committed to supporting small businesses and startups.

“Their mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere,” she explains.

The connection with Chinese culture is also important to Akhidenor. She spent about 10 years studying Mandarin, and has a diploma in the language. She’s also had two stints living and studying in China.

It’s a culture that’s close to her heart, she explains.

“That’s also why it means so much.”

Of course, Akhidenor is both a millennial and an entrepreneur herself. So, this particular podcast was also somewhat therapeutic to produce, she says. Running a business can be lonely.

“Especially during COVID, where things are just mayhem for entrepreneurs, it’s so tough to stay in the game and it’s so tough to stay motivated,” she explains.

She wanted this series to act almost as a friend to people going through similar experiences.

“When you hear someone else going through what you’ve been through … it makes you feel understood and heard.”

The whole analogy, she notes, is about the ‘build up’ to success. Michelle wants entrepreneurs to know it’s okay to still be building, and to not have the perfect product, service or business right out of the gate.

When you’re young, you don’t know it all, she adds.

And, when you’re navigating a particular journey, facing challenges and learning lessons along the way, sometimes it’s nice to hear another person’s interpretation of a similar situation.

“We’re all building together and you’re not alone.”


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