初见李天驰,眼前这个在少儿编程赛道如日中天的企业创始人刚刚结束完一个活动的演讲,除去他黑色框架眼镜给人的萌感,从他极具辨识度的普通话中透露着儒雅和绅士。

At first sight, Tianchi Li, Founder of the company taking the lead in children’s programming sector, had just finished the speech at an event. Besides from the adorableness of his black frame glasses, he gave off elegance and politeness from his highly recognizable Mandarin.

在将近一个小时的访谈中,他用闲话家常的口吻讲述着自己“辍学创业”的故事,发表对少儿编程行业的看法,我几度惊叹于他云淡风轻的笃定。

During nearly one hour of interview, he talked about his story of “dropping out of school and starting his own business” in a casual tone and shared his viewpoints on the children’s programming industry. I was amazed several times at how composed he was.

同很多创业者一样,李天驰的偶像是Bill Gates和Zuckerberg。在为外人津津乐道的“放弃学位回国创业”背后,他不认为那是对传统权威教育的藐视,不觉得自己叛逆。他说,“我觉得只是时间点的问题。我并不是常常以此为骄傲,那个时候,我的论文已经写完,该学的也已经学完,我其实不太需要一个纸质的文凭来证明自己。我觉得我可以去做这个选择。”他用行动致敬偶像。

Like many entrepreneurs, Tianchi Li admires Bill Gates and Zuckerberg. People often talk about how he “abandoned his degree and started a business in China”, but he doesn’t consider himself belittling traditional authoritative education or being rebellious. He said: “I think it’s just matter of timing. I am not always proud of this. At that time, I had finished writing my thesis and learning the coursework. I didn’t really need a paper diploma to prove myself. I think I could make the choice.” He paid his tribute to his role models with actions.

他是乐观的海贼王,市场的预见者。艾问(iask-media.com)认为,编程猫能够成为少儿编程领域的头部企业很大一部分源于这个绅士的叛逆者敏锐地在行业飓风刮起之前洞察到了国内的市场和未来。

He is an optimistic King of the Pirates and a visionary of the market. From the perspective of iAsk (iask-media.com), the reason why Codemao was able to become a leading firm in children’s programming industry is mostly because this rebellious gentleman foresaw the market and future in China with his sharp acumen before the industry rose up.

2015年成立并开始从事少儿在线编程教育的编程猫在大多数中国家长以为代码就是二维码的时候,扛起少年编程的大旗,率先走上培养中国少年编程思维的道路。那个时候,行业内还没有迎来黎明的曙光。“少年编程就是一个坑”、“我不需要我的孩子做程序员”、“十岁娃娃学编程:课也学不好,钱也退不了”等声音在网络上此起彼伏,就少年对编程的接受程度和图形化编程的专业度这两者之间难以调和的矛盾,公众质疑不断。

Codemao was established in 2015 and began to engage in children’s online programming education. When most Chinese parents thought that coding was the same as the QR code, Codemao took the initiative and set off on the journey of cultivating the programming mentality in Chinese children. At that time, the industry didn’t look promising. There were heated discussions online, such as “Children’s programming is a trap”, “I don’t want my children to become programmers”, “how can a ten-year-old learn programming: they can’t even master their schoolwork and we can’t get our refund later.” The conflicts between the degree of acceptance of programming for children and the professionalism of graphical programming were difficult to reconcile, along with constant doubts from the public.

他说,“从社会的角度,我很能理解,大家都需要一个慢慢接受的过程。不过我认为编程本质上是一个社会需求,倒推教育的需求。”

He said, “From the social point of view, I can understand their concerns, since it takes time for everyone to accept it. However, I believe that programming is essentially a social need and a backward demand for education.

4年过去,编程教育的利好政策不断发布,“人工智能”、物联网等概念越来越深入人心,家长们对编程的认知也逐步从“不了解”到“可能成为下一个通用语言”,越来越多的创业人和资本开始涌入这个赛道。行业出现曙光。

Four years later, the favorable policies of programming education were released continuously. The concepts of “artificial intelligence” and Internet of Things have become increasingly known by people. Parents’ impression of programming has gradually changed from “knowing nothing about it” to “considering it possibly the next universal language”. An increasing number of entrepreneurs and more capital are swarming into the industry. The industry has been fledgling.

在这个目前市场规模约为30-40亿元,用户规模约1550万,未来5年内预计将达300亿的新兴赛道上(数据来源:艾瑞咨询《中国少儿编程行业研究报告》),编程猫异常耀眼。获得猎豹移动CEO傅盛的种子轮投资后,又获得由光大控股旗下光控众盈资本领投,老股东展博创投持续跟投的最新融资,从2017年第四季度起,成立两年的编程猫实现收入每个季度翻番增长,2018年更是实现单日营收破千万。

Under this current market size of about RMB 3-4 billion yuan, a customer base of around 15.5 millions, expected market scale of RMB 30 billion in 5 years (Data source: Research Report on China’s Children’s Programming Industry by iResearch Consulting Group), Codemao stands out in particular. After receiving the seed-round investment from Cheetah Mobile CEO Sheng Fu, the company obtained more funding from Guangkong Zhongying Capital owned by China Everbright, followed by the latest continuous financing from the previous shareholder Gemboom Venture Capital. Since the fourth quarter of 2017 after two years of establishment, Codemao realized a doubling of revenue every quarter, and in 2018, it achieved revenues of over RMB 10 million within a single day.

《艾问企投家》 艾诚对话傅盛

经历过开辟蓝海的黑暗,取得了这样的阶段性成就,提及自己的初心,李天驰这样说“其实没有什么太多的想法,如果现在再选一次,我的答案很可能还是yes。哪怕再一次去做,如果我明知道结果是失败,我也还是会去做,因为我觉得这一路风景很好。”

After experiencing the darkness of being a pioneer and obtaining milestone achievements, Tianchi Li commented on his initial intention: “I didn’t think too much. If I were to make a choice again, my answer would probably still be ‘yes’. Even if I do it once again, knowing that I’m doomed to fail, I will still proceed, because I enjoy the view on the journey.

过程充满不确定,李天驰平静的眼波下是对初心的坚持。

The process is full of uncertainties. Behind Tianchi Li’s calmness is his persistence on his initial intention.

父母最想赋予孩子的是资源和机会

What parents yearn to offer their children the most are resources and opportunities

艾诚:编程猫给孩子进行编程教育,他们通过编程,可能发生的一些变化是什么?

Gloria Ai: Codemao teach children programming. What are some of the changes that they may experience through programming?

李天驰:我认为编程也好,计算的思维也好,掌握信息的素养也好,核心是给他们去看到更大的一个世界。这个时候,他们有做很多事情的可能性。我认为这可能是对他们原有生活圈,原有界限的一个打破。

Tianchi Li: I think no matter whether it’s programming, computing mentality, or the skill to grasp information, the key is for them to see a bigger a world. At such an age, they have the possibility to do a lot of things. I believe that it’s breaking through their previous life circle and boundaries.

艾诚:在这过去的四年,某种程度上你和你的团队,在进行一种市场教育,告诉大家编程也是未来孩子需要的一种技能。你预见了什么样的趋势,让我们相信编程是被需要的?编程的能力是必需的?

Gloria Ai: In the past four years, to some extent, you and your team have been conducting a certain market education, implying that programming is also a skill that children would need in the future. What trend do you foresee to prompt us to believe that programming is needed and the programming ability is required?

李天驰:信息技术会改变我们的生活。这个是我们相信编程越来越重要的原因。从上个世纪60年代以来,信息技术就从呼机、到移动电话、到计算机、到操作系统、到现在的移动互联网,实际上我们过去的生活,一次又一次的被技术改变。再往后,我们从带钱包,到现在带一个支付宝和微信,到未来,AI实际上会给我们的生活和工作带来更大的变化。在这个过程里面,我相信编程会成为一个新的必备素养。

Tianchi Li: Information technology will change our lives. This is why we believe programming is becoming gradually important. Since the 1960s, information technology has evolved from pager to mobile phone, to computer, to operating system, to the mobile Internet. In fact, our past lives have been constantly changed by technology. Additionally, our payment means changed from bringing a wallet to paying with Alipay or WeChat. In the future, AI will actually bring greater changes to our lives and work. During this process, I believe that programming will become a new essential quality.

艾诚:听你讲编程的服务,有点像我们当年讲英语,父母会觉得如果我的孩子多会一门外语,可能就打开了另一扇窗户?

Gloria Ai: Your speech about programming reminds me of public opinions about English in the past. Parents would believe that if their children mastered another foreign language, they would have more opportunities.

李天驰:是,我觉得其实核心是资源和机会。针对每个时代的教育,其实父母最想赋予给这些孩子的,就是不一样的资源和机会。像您刚刚说到的外语,显然在90年代或者80年代,如果有这样的一个技能,可能在一个经济全球化的社会里面就有了不一样的资源和机会。比如说在外贸的生意谈判里面,包括在求学的时候都会有很大的优势。所以在未来的AI社会里,把握人和机器之间的语言实际上是一个很重要的资源。

Tianchi Li: Yes, I think the core is resources and opportunities. For education in each era, parents actually desire to equip their children with varied resources and opportunities. Like what you just mentioned about learning foreign languages, it is apparent that in the 1990s or 1980s, if you had such a skill, you might have different resources and opportunities in an economically globalized society. For example, you would have great advantages in business negotiations for foreign trades or while studying abroad. Therefore, in the future AI society, grasping the language between people and the machine is actually a very significant resource.

艾诚:当投资人在观察一个创业项目时,第一个要问的就是“这是不是一个伪需求”,你的答案是?

Gloria Ai: When an investor is assessing an entrepreneurial project, the first question to ask is “Is this an artificial demand”. What is your answer?

李天驰:还是倒过去看英语,这个学科在社会上的地位实际上是由社会的需求决定的。分三步走,经济全球化先行—全球化人才需求—基础学科,同样,人工智能先行—人才需求—编程,它是这样的三部曲。我们现在在第一个阶段,马上会到第二个阶段,接下来第三个阶段。

Tianchi Li: Let’s look backward at learning English again. The status of this discipline in society is actually determined by the needs of society. There are three steps: economic globalization first—global talent needs—fundamental disciplines. Similarly, artificial intelligence first—talent needs—programming. It is a trilogy. We are now in the first phase, and will immediately move on to the second phase, followed by the third phase.

十年前,互联网的浪潮第一次带领90年代的少年打开新世界的大门,他们克服地域局限,实现即时沟通,联络了世界的各个角落。十年后的今天,人工智能和大数据的浪潮和我们不期而遇,这将是一个万物联通的世界,是一个属于数据的世界。我们对数据和编程的需求毋庸置疑,然而,李天驰对作为学科基础的少儿编程教育同样百分百相信。

Ten years ago, the wave of the Internet opened the door for the teenagers born in 1990s to a brand-new world. They overcame geographical limitations, realized real-time communication, and could reach out to people from all over the world. Ten years later, nowadays, the wave of artificial intelligence and big data encountered with us unexpectedly. This is a world of all things connected and a world of data. Our demand for data and programming is unquestionable. Meanwhile, Tianchi Li is equally convinced of the children’s programming education as a discipline.

采访的过程中,他不止一次说到“改变”这个词。针对少年编程是“噱头”的言论,他显得很坦然,他说自己从来不是要做编程培训,也不曾想过把孩子们都培养成程序员,编程猫做的是激发少年的探索之心和培养孩子的计算能力,在他看来,那是一种可能性。在人工智能时代下,做更多事情的可能性。

During the interview, he mentioned the word “change” multiple times. In view of the remarks that juvenile programming is a “gimmick”, he seemed very composed. He said that he never wanted to run programming training programs, nor did he ever think of cultivating children into programmers. Codemao aims to stimulate children’s desire to explore and their computing ability. In his opinion, that implies a possibility, i.e. the possibility of exploring more in the era of artificial intelligence.

说起自己从8岁开始学习编程的经历,他是充满感情的。他感怀于自己在那个所有人都还仅仅关注外语教育的年代很幸运地接触到编程,他感恩于父母对自己的教育和尊重,他信仰教育,他有想要改变未来孩子的抱负和野心。

Speaking of his experience of learning programming since the age of 8, he was full of emotions. He felt fortunate to be exposed to programming in the era when everyone else only focused on foreign language education. He was grateful to his parents for their education and respect. He believes in education and he has the ambition to bring changes to future children.

我可以从那黑框眼镜下,看到一份信仰和情怀——编程教育会让孩子们看到不一样的世界。

I could see his belief and ideals from behind the black frame glasses – programming education will open up a different world for children.

教育的本质是抢夺孩子的时间

The essence of education is to snatch children’s time

艾诚:作为一个创业项目,本质还是生意,那问题来了,谁是你的客户,你又提供什么样的产品和服务?

Gloria Ai: As an entrepreneurial project, the core is still business. Here comes the question. Who are your customers and what kind of products and services do you offer?

李天驰:我们其实是个典型的用户客户分离的场景,用户是孩子,孩子在上课在学习,但付费的实际上是家长。从70后家长到80后家长到今天的90后家长,我认为针对现在的教育,如果确实能给你的用户提供一个足够让他满意的产品体验,它会促进家长的消费。我的用户是孩子,我们第一服务的人群也是孩子,不是家长。通过给孩子提供足够满意的服务促进家长的消费。

Tianchi Li: We are actually under a typical scenario where users and customers are separate, in that users are children who take the courses, but parents make payments. Customers are parents who were born in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s nowadays. I think for the current education, if you are able to provide your users with satisfactory product experience, it will facilitate the consumption by parents. My users are children, and our primary target population are also children, not parents. We intend to promote parental consumption by providing adequate services to their children.

艾诚:如果有一个也想迈入教育赛道的创业者在你面前,你会提醒他们警惕什么?

Gloria Ai: If there is an entrepreneur who also desires to enter the educational industry showing up in front of you, what would you remind them to be alert of?

李天驰:如果在现在的时间节点,有人要进入到教育这条赛道,我觉得我可能给到的建议很多,第一是要想清楚本身提供的服务,它的本质是什么?教育其实有蛮多种类型,本质上我觉得所有教育类项目的核心都是在抢夺孩子的时间。这里边不同的类型有不同的做法。

Tianchi Li: Currently, if someone wants to enter the educational sector, I think I may have a lot of suggestions to share. The first is to think about the services they provide. What is the essence? There are actually many types of education. Essentially, I feel that the core of all educational programs is to snatch children’s time. Different types entail different ways of operation.

第二个,针对很多教育类企业,要搞清楚整个现金流的情况。因为教育类的收费比起其它行业来说比较好,它预付费,所以一般现金流不错。但是要搞明白,这笔现金流实际上不是你的收入,它实际上是某一笔负债,因为用户的服务你还没提供,还没发生。我跟很多的教育界创业者都经常去聊这个问题,我觉得一个企业最好在达到月收入一亿之前,能把它的成本结构,能把它的整体商业逻辑搞得很明白。因为当你规模没达到的时候,其实有一些问题是遇不到的。

Secondly, for many educational firms, it is necessary for them to figure out the overall cash flow situation. Since educational services require payment in advance, which yields advantages over other industries, it can secure decent cash flows. However, they should be aware that the cash flow is not their income. It is actually a debt, because you haven’t provided the services. I have talked about this with plenty of entrepreneurs in the educational industry. I believe that companies need to sort out their cost structure and overall business logic before they earn RMB 100 million yuan monthly. Before they reach the scale, they actually wouldn’t run into certain problems.

艾问(iask-media.com)认为,一千个读者会有一千个哈姆雷特,无畏对错,无关其它。“教育的本质是抢夺孩子的时间”,李天驰将这个已经被大家讨论很多的领域,给予最简单同时也是最明确的解释,目标明确,易于执行。这是编程猫的目标定位,也是它的方向导航。

“iAsk” (iask-media.com) believes that there are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes. There is no right or wrong. It has nothing to do with others. “The essence of education is to snatch children’s time.” Tianchi Li gave the simplest and most explicit explanation of this area that has been discussed by many people. Clear goals make execution easier. This is the positioning and guidance of Codemao.

怀疑始终存在

Doubts always exist

艾诚:做了创始人之后,就必须成为一个面面俱到的管理者,在这个过程中,你有过纠结吗?

Gloria Ai: After becoming a founder, you must become a comprehensive manager. During the process, have you ever had hesitations?

李天驰:我觉得核心还是如何对抗不确定性的问题,因为无论是在学校还是在企业,几乎所有任务都是确定的。创业以后,怎么走都可以,没有人可以给你指派一个确定性的任务。对我自己来说,其实我觉得还好。从我的角度来讲,我会怀疑的是“我这么做对不对”。怀疑是始终存在的。

Tianchi Li: I think the key is still how to fight uncertainties. Almost all tasks are assigned whether in school or in business, but you’re free to choose any path after starting a business since there’s no assigned tasks. For me, I think it’s alright. From my perspective, I would doubt “whether what I do is right”. Doubts always exist.

艾诚:创业者一直说我要坚定地做内心认为正确的事,但最大的问题就是什么叫做正确的事情。

Gloria Ai: Entrepreneurs have always upheld that they must stay true to what they think is right, but the biggest problem is what is the right thing to do.

李天驰:我觉得好的创业者他一定会在内心分出一个胜负来。在内心胜负定的时候,这个企业就会往该走的方向走。

Tianchi Li: I think that an outstanding entrepreneur will definitely make the trade-off in their mind. When they make the choice, the company will move forward in the direction of the choice.

艾诚:但其中的痛苦就在于你既是运动员又是裁判员,你要扪心自问,我做的这个决定对还是不对?

Gloria Ai: But the pain is that you are both an athlete and a referee. You have to reflect on yourself whether you make the right decision?

李天驰:但是你必须要做决定,所以说实际上,做抉择是创始人最大的一个任务。你会看到,处在不同阶段的时候,我们的任务不一样。当我们是个学生,一个企业的员工时,任务很简单,任务就是结合现有的资源和已有的能力,去做好一个任务,做执行。但是当做企业的时候,你会发现,你的挑战变成了结合已有的信息,做一个决定,所以跟你的能力其实没什么关系,能不能做没关系,你不能做有人能做,但是你必须做这个判断。这个判断好不好,就决定了这个公司好不好。我一直觉得好的公司不一定是创始人有什么样的能力,但是它一定是创始人做了好的选择。

Tianchi Li: But you have to make a decision. Therefore, in fact, making decisions is the biggest task for a founder. You can see that our missions are different at different stages. When we are students, company employees, the task is very simple, which is to utilize the existing resources and current capabilities to complete tasks and execute. But when you run a business, you will find out that your challenge becomes decision-making with known information, so it has nothing to do with your ability. It doesn’t matter if you can do it. If you can’t, someone else would do it. Yet, you have to make judgments. Whether the judgment is good or bad determines how well the company operates. I always believe that a good company might not necessarily prove the founder’s capabilities, but it must be true that the founder has made good choices.

回国的那一刻起,李天驰完成了从学生到创业者的角色转换。那个时候,他踌躇满志,跃跃欲试,他决定用行动为自己负责。

From the moment he returned to China, Tianchi Li completed the role transition from student to entrepreneur. At that time, he was full of ambition and momentum. He decided to take responsibility for himself with actions.

然而,创业的路途是未知的、孤独的,一个身怀绝技的侠客不见得可以在这条道上昂首阔步,因为这个时候,他不再只有自己,不再允许了无牵挂,他的步伐开始沉重,决策更加谨慎和小心。每一个决定都关系着团队命运和企业未来的重量压在心头,侠客也会怀疑自己,怀疑自我的决定和判断。

However, the journey of entrepreneurship is full of uncertainty and loneliness. A knight with exceptional skills might not be able to stride on the journey, because he is no longer alone. He is no longer burdenless. His pace begins to become slower. He needs to be more cautious with each decision, because every decision impacts the destiny and future of his team and company. With the pressure, the knight also questions himself and his own decisions and judgments.

这条路变数不断,注定坎坷。那个不在乎学位和“因为风景美好”就义无反顾的快意少年在不断地被证明有多傻的过程中也常常茫然,常常怀疑。

This journey is constantly changing and destined to be rough. The carefree teenager who didn’t care about the degree and proceeded without hesitation “because the view is beautiful” is often stunned and doubtful while constantly being proved ignorant.

这是一场考验。

This is a test.