ShaoLan Hsueh

ShaoLan Hsueh (also known as Heidi Hsueh;[1][2] Chinese: 薛曉嵐; pinyin: Xuē Xiǎolán) is a London-based Taiwanese author, designer, venture capitalist, tech entrepreneur, podcast host, speaker, and the creator of Chinese language learning system Chineasy. As a college undergraduate in Taiwan, she wrote several bestselling software books that were widely distributed by Microsoft, and co-founded Internet company pAsia. In 2005, while studying for a master's degree at Cambridge, she founded Caravel Capital. Hsueh introduced Chineasy during a 2013 TED Talk, and subsequently authored several books and other learning tools to distribute the method.

ShaoLan Hsueh
ShaoLan speaks at TED 2013.jpg

Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
National Chengchi University
National Taiwan University
OccupationAuthor, designer, entrepreneur, venture capitalist
Known forCreator of Chineasy; podcasts

Early life and educationEdit

Hsueh was born in Taipei,[3][2] to designers Hsueh RuiFang, a mathematician and engineer who became a noted ceramicist,[4] and Lin FangZi, a calligrapher.[5] She was raised in Taiwan[6] with her sisters, Josephine and Anchi.[7][8][9]

She received a Master of Business Administration from National Chengchi University in 1993, before moving to the United Kingdom, where she earned a MPhil from Newnham College, University of Cambridge.[6][10]


While studying for her MBA, Hsueh wrote a Microsoft user manual,[11] then three additional software books.[10] These four best-selling books were bundled and distributed by Microsoft, with each awarded "book of the year" in Taiwan.[9][12]

She co-founded pAsia, a major Internet company in Asia, with offices in Taipei and Beijing,[10][2] that operated auction site Coolbid and social websites LoveTown and 8D8D, and developed and licensed proprietary technology, during the 1990s. PAsia investors included Intel, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup.[13] While obtaining a second master's degree, at the University of Cambridge, Hsueh founded technology startup advisory and investment firm Caravel Capital, in 2005.[10][14]


While trying to teach Chinese to her two British-born children, Hsueh designed a pictogram-based learning system[15] by analysing results of an algorithm to determine the most common “building blocks” in thousands of Chinese characters.[16][17] In February 2013, she was invited to California to give a TED Talk, "Learn to read Chinese … with ease!",[18] to introduce the method.[19][20]

A subsequent, audience-generated blog then resulted in over 8,000 direct inquiries to Hsueh.[5][21] A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign followed,[22] resulting in the March 2014 publication of her book, Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese, a collaboration with graphic artist Noma Bar,[16] followed by an mobile app.[5] The book has been translated and published in 19 languages.[23]

Following the publication of her first Chineasy book, Hsueh authored Chineasy Everyday: Learning Chinese Through Its Culture (2016), Chineasy Everyday: The World of Chineasy Characters (2016), Chineasy Travel (2018), and Chineasy for Children (2018), as well as a workbook, flash cards, and other learning tools.[24] Her mother has contributed calligraphy to Hsueh's publications.[25]


Following her first TED Talk, in 2013, Hsueh gave a second one, in 2016, “The Chinese Zodiac Explained”.[26] She is a public speaker,[27][28] and appeared on The Guilty Feminist, which was recorded live at Leicester Square Theatre, London.[29] Hsueh also hosts the Talk Chineasy podcast, and hosts an eight-part Thrive Global podcast, How to Thrive: Lessons From Ancient Chinese Wisdom.[30][31]

Named as one of 21 "Leading Ladies in Tech in 2015" by The Sunday Times, and as “The Woman uniting you with China”, by Apple Inc.; on International Women's Day 2018, she was also noted as a "Person of Action" by Microsoft,[32] which has twice featured her on Times Square billboard advertisements, in 2018 and 2019.[25][33] Hsueh was named by Entrepreneur magazine as "one of the Six Women with Asian roots Redefining Creative Entrepreneurship" in 2019.[34]


Hsueh is a signee of the “Founder’s Pledge”,[35] and has served as a board member of various non-profit organisations in the UK, including Victoria and Albert Museum and Asia House. She has also been a member of the Business Advisory Council of Oxford University Saïd Business School.[35][10]

Personal lifeEdit

Hsueh resides in London with her two children,[36] and is an avid skier.[4] "Weight training, steaming and copying the Heart Sutra" are cited by Hsueh as the basis of her daily routine.[10]


  1. ^ Ling, Connie; Lee-Young, Joanne (31 March 2000). "In Asia, the Geeks Muscle Aside the Trust-Fund Kids". The Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ a b c Mair, Victor (19 March 2014). "Chineasy? Not". University of Pennsylvania.
  3. ^ Van Lier, Bas (28 January 2014). "CHINEASY CREATOR SHAOLAN AT WDCD14". What Design Can Do.
  4. ^ a b Cheung, Rachel (7 January 2019). "Why a female tech entrepreneur invented a new way to learn Chinese". South China Morning Post.
  5. ^ a b c Orr, Gillian (30 March 2014). "Chineasy: Ingenious image-led dictionary is making learning Mandarin Chinese simpler". Independent.
  6. ^ a b (in French) Shaolan Hsueh, Le chinois, c'est pas sorcier, Éditions Hachette (Marabout), 2014, pages 9 and 192 (ISBN 978-2-501-09361-3).
  7. ^ (in German)Hsueh, ShaoLan (2016). Chineasy Everyday. Edel Books. ISBN 9783841904386.
  8. ^ "Tao Lin Studio".
  9. ^ a b ShaoLan Hsueh, Chineasy: The New Way to Read Chinese, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2014 (ISBN 978-0500650288).
  10. ^ a b c d e f Charlotte Clarke, "Women in Business – Shaolan Hsueh, MBA graduate",, 5 October 2014 (page visited on 13 February 2020).
  11. ^ Murphy, Siobhan (13 March 2014), How Chineasy inventor ShaoLan Hsueh used beautiful design to decode Mandarin and Cantonese, Metro, Associated Newspapers Limited
  12. ^ "The memory game. A new way of teaching Chinese ideograms to foreign audiences", The Economist, 22 March 2014.
  13. ^ Ling, Connie (20 November 2000). "Asian E-Commerce Firm pAsia Lays Off About 10% of Its Staff". The Wall Street Journal.
  14. ^ Company Information for CARAVEL CAPITAL LLP, Datalog, Market Footprint Ltd., 20 May 2015
  15. ^ Carey Dunne, "How obsessively copying poems helps Shaolan Hsueh, who reimagined Chinese, stay creative",, 24 April 2014 (page visited on 13 February 2020).
  16. ^ a b "Chineasy peasy: Noma Bar brings fun and colour to Chinese characters", The Guardian (page visited on 13 February 2020).
  17. ^ Hsueh, ShaoLan (20 March 2014). "Chineasy: A New Way to Learn Chinese Characters". Time.
  18. ^ "Learn to read Chinese … with ease!", TED talk, 2013 (page visited on 13 February 2020).
  19. ^ Upbin, Bruce (25 April 2013). "Learn To Read Chinese In Eight Minutes". The Wall Street Journal.
  20. ^ "MEET THE DEVELOPER The woman who's widening your world". Apple. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  21. ^ Thring, Oliver (16 February 2014). "Fear not, Grasshopper, learning Mandarin just got Chineasy". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited.
  22. ^ Chineasy: The easiest way to learn Chinese, (page visited on 13 February 2020)
  23. ^ "Building empathy, one Chinese character at time". Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  24. ^ Author:"ShaoLan Hsueh", Google Books, 14 February 2020
  25. ^ a b Hsueh, ShaoLan (11 July 2018). "ShaoLan Chineasy". Twitter.
  26. ^ Hsueh, ShaoLan (2016), "The Chinese zodiac, explained",
  27. ^ Shaolan Hsueh: "Chineasy", Talks at Google,, 2 June 2016
  28. ^ "HAOLAN HSUEH – KEYNOTE SPEAKER". Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  29. ^ "The Guilty Feminist episode 88. Innovation with ShaoLan and Laura Bates". y FeministGuilt. 5 March 2018.
  30. ^ Huffington, Arianna (19 December 2019). "How to Thrive: Lessons From Ancient Chinese Wisdom".
  31. ^ Hsueh, ShaoLan, "Chinese Wisdom with ShaoLan",
  32. ^ "I don't have a job, I have a mission",, retrieved 14 February 2020
  33. ^ Hsueh, ShaoLan (10 July 2018), "ShaoLan Hsueh", Facebook
  34. ^ Singh, Pooja (15 March 2019). "Meet Six Women with Asian Roots who are Redefining Creative Entrepreneurship".
  35. ^ a b "Founders Pledge". Founders For Good Ltd. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  36. ^ Griffiths, Sian (13 March 2016). "Chinese? It can be this easy". The Sunday Times.

External linksEdit