Ji Xiaohua,who has a PhD in neurobiology, started Guokr.com, foundera simple science news and online education website, on the mainland in 2010. Its massive open online course (MOOC) platform enables laymen to try the courses of elite global institutions from home. Also, its platform, Zaih.com,lets people chat to industry experts for a fee. Ji spoke to COCO FENG Were you following an example when you started Guokr.com? When it launched, our wish was to be China's Discovery in the new media world. Firms like Discovery and National Geographic have made science a popular culture that everyone can understand. We look up to Discovery, but have far to go. After five years, is Guokr.com still 'young' and innovative? Of course. In the internet world, five years isn't a short time, but for Guokr.com - focused on science knowledge - there are no mature business models yet, so we have to explore new things and stay young. What new business models have you explored? Five years ago Guokr.com was a website that simply shared interesting scientific discoveries and knowledge for the layman. About two years ago we launched MOOC to bring new changes to education. The more recent Zaih.com focuses on knowledge service, through which we want to set up a "Communiversity", where people pay to chat with an expert in a specific field. What is a 'communiversity'? Once an adult graduates from university, he or she has little chance to study in a curricular system. Usually one studies only when he or she needs to know something, and turns to a friend who knows that thing better. What we've done is equip this learning habit with the internet, making it an O2O [online-to-offline] knowledge-sharing platform. Zaih.com offers a learning atmosphere that's closest to how adults digest knowledge. In our society, everyone can be a teacher in his or her own field. How did you come up with this idea? I had this "communiversity" idea two years ago when I started MOOC, and last September put forward the idea to my colleagues who, at that time, didn't think it would work out well. I then wrote a news article, speculating about how media would cover it when it came into being. Some colleagues were convinced though and we worked out this O2O platform. This business model is the world's first. We are pairing more than 100 teachers and students in five cities every day. Personally I have met more than 10 people who paid to chat to me. Our goal is to help 60,000 people a month to find the people that they want to talk to. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs? Most university entrepreneurs are mindless and aimless. They will face many obstacles and challenges. The toughest obstacles that I've met were times when the funding chain almost broke. When I became more famous, I got more attacks and criticism on the internet. I suggest young dreamers go to work for a start-up company first - Guokr.com for example, ha! - for two to three years, before starting their own business. Which of your roles - your science PhD, or your platform that helps people get to know science - contributes more to the subject? It is hard to simply compare these two vocations. For me, the effort I have been making now is closer to full capability. I had already started writing about science in plain language for ordinary people before I got my PhD. I know what readers like and how to explain complex things to them. What films or books have impressed you recently? I saw the film I Am Somebody by Hong Kong director Derek Yee. It tells the story of a group of extras who dream of being film at Hengdian World Studios [in Zhejiang province, known as China's Hollywood]. The extras are just like the entrepreneurs that flood big cities such as Beijing and believe that they can be somebody. Most of them end up turning in circles and making no progress. It is very cruel. I think this is what entrepreneurs should think twice before they get started.