By Krista Orejudos
Image retrieved from Asian Hustle Network
Before NextShark was known as “the leading source for Asian American and Asian news: the voice of the global Asian youth”, it was originally an online publication targeted towards millennials interested in entrepreneurship.
Benny Luo, a Chinese-American born from immigrant parents, first saw a need for curating content for young, ambitious, money-hungry adults in 2013. He had previously been in the business game during his college years and had experienced mild success, but NextShark launched the peak of his career. However, he still gambled a heavy risk by investing $3,000 out of his own pocket into this small start-up while also being in-debt to collectors, and on the verge of bankruptcy.
In the end, his gamble did pay off. The first three years were a profitable success - their numbers began to gain more attraction, and he was making more money than he could’ve imagined.
Though, Benny didn’t think it was enough.
He didn’t believe that NextShark was fulfilling its full potential nor was it building a strong sense of community.
NextShark’s beginning stages were simply to meet ends-meet, until he had noticed something interesting — their Asian content outperformed anything else they created.
He remembered that, “whenever we covered the startup in China or whenever we covered entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia or something or we covered news in that area. Even in the U.S. if we covered anything Asian-centered in particular, we were getting a lot of engagement".
So in 2017, Benny made the pivotal decision of completely rebranding NextShark from tech-savvy entrepreneurship to only Asian media. Since then, NextShark is one of few prosperous Asian youth sites. This company also led Benny to be ranked under Forbes' 30 under 30 as he continues to grow NextShark’s influence all over the world.
The Impact of NextShark on The Asian Community
Despite how NextShark originated in the states, the articles they report represent Asian news in both America and Asia. Benny has made it a point to accurately depict the differences between Asian-Americans and Asians living in Asia because the cultural differences and beliefs are prominent. It may be easy to generalize Asians as mainstream loves to cherry-pick which Asians they showcase, NextShark works hard to dismantle that fixed mindset.
From entertainment and media to political readings to international news, NextShark tells the unique stories of many different types of Asians. Though there may be similarities in how Asian immigrants migrated to America for a better life or how Asians in Asia are thriving business owners, readers will never find one story that is exactly the same. Their differences are ultimately what sets them apart, and NextShark ensures that they capture those words in the work they produce.
Especially during a time where Asian hate is on the rise, NextShark doesn’t shy away to record the discrimination going on in our community. Their site has been flooded with desensitized reports about anti-Asian crimes and they continue to be the loudest platforms advocating for this. Even while facing trolls and death threats from anonymous callers who call in for “article tips”, NextShark is dedicated to doing its part for the Asian community.
Without their contribution of pioneering the voices of Asian youth, Asians would still feel helpless to stand up for themselves, and powerless to do so.
Written by writer Krista Orejudos