Alex Duncan Headshot

Alex Duncan

Experienced Entrepreneur,
Marketer, Designer,
& Passionate Cyclist.


Early Life

Born in the English countryside in 1984 (39 years old), Alex grew up during the 90s in a house with an Apple Mac and internet access. With the Mac not having many games, around the age of 8 he began to teach himself graphic design — his fasincation with design continued throughout his teens and became a meaningful source of income. At 18 he spent a gap year in Australia travelling, participating in conservation projects and worked as a graphic designer.

At Durham University, in the North of England, Alex studied Zoology, but spent much of his time involved in theatre, student politics and furthering his design and programming skills. He won election as President of The Students’ Union and spent a year rallying students to successfully campaign and protest against the university to freeze rent increases and provide more funding for student activities.

China Chapter

Craving adventure, after leaving University in July 2007 Alex booked a flight to Shanghai, China. He studied Mandarin for 3 months Alex then found work at Virtual Village, a China to The West B2C e-commerce startup run by an eccentric older British entrepreneur. In 18 months Alex worked across almost every area of the business running marketing, web development and even the warehouse. Seeing a troubled future for a tech company run by a founder who didn’t really grasp technology, Alex felt it was time to leave and found his own company.

He pursued multiple entrepreneurial ventures from bespoke clothing to custom oil paintings, always making use of his design and programming skills. While no venture achieved much success, this was a critical learning period.

Seeking a break from the instability of entrepreneurship, Alex took a role as an internal consultant at a large international hotel chain where he pioneered the usage of social media and established the first on property digital marketing team. By mid 2013 Alex had grown tired of the slowness of working in a large MNC, so left to Co-found KAWO with Dutch developer Brian van Damme who shared his passion for building great software.


First hand experience of the challenges of managing social media while in previous roles — Alex saw a clear opportunity to create a SaaS platform for managing China social media. In the early days of KAWO Alex focused on design and front end development then stepped up to lead the company from 2017 until 2021.

His key contributions during his 10 years at KAWO include:

In 2021 KAWO raised 10M Series A from Sequoia China & Tiger Global. With the new priority being rapid scale, and the tide in China turning against foreigners, Alex returned to focus on his core passion — building great product. Shanghai born 李静远 (Lǐ jìng yuǎn) took over the role of CEO, leading the company in a new direction.

Post China

Worn down by the events of the previous 3 years, in June 2023 Alex left KAWO and China. He has returned to Europe to spend much needed time with friends and family and is slowly figuring out the next chapter of his journey.
Meanwhile he is co-writing a book about marketing in China that will hopefully be published in 2024.

You can find a more personal introduction on my Substack

I'm not big on email spam, but I can be reached via LinkedIn.

Last updated Sun 25 Feb 2024.