Chinapreneurs 2.0

Great to see everyone Monday. Inspiring and helpful!

Successful first Chinapreneurs event

We hopsted the first Chinapreneurs event last Wednesday at Epicenter. Turnout was great as about 100 people cramed in to the room to listen to the speakers.  An exciting evening with entrepreneurs and investors sharing their stories about making it in China. 

Speakers
- Linus Holmsäter, HeyOuts.comHeyrobics.com
- Todd Embley, Chinaccelerator.com (live from Shanghai!)
- Svante Jerling, P1.com
- Pär Pettersson, Univenture
- Bonnie Roupé, Bonzun

Project Launch
- Marie Claire Maxwell and Åsa Moum, Makerresan

Startup pitches
- Airinum
- Lunchback

Panel discussion
- Linus Holmsäter, Heyouts
- Svante Jerling, P1
- Pär Pettersson, Univenture
- Bonnie Roupe, Bonzun
- Marcus Skinnar, Serial Entrepreneur
- Huizi Zeng Alvén, East Capital

Light refreshments and snacks kindly provided by NOA Relaxation, Hynells
Patenttjänst and Cloudberry.
 

Mei, Hannes Helander, Daniel, Marie Claire

Europe and Asia – The Missing Link

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In the startup world, Silicon Valley is the indisputable capital. The leading trends and bustling, diverse communities have made it a popular landing pad for startups, investors, and technical hires from around the world looking to connect with "the startup movement." This clustering isn't going to change any time soon, but as the startup movement continues expanding globally, the need to diversify our clustered startup geography and build stronger links between ecosystems is growing. In this article, I argue there is a specific need to strengthen the ties between the startup systems in Europe and Asia.

From One Hub to Rule them All

Silicon Valley is a unique place. The ecosystem is the result of a gradual development over decades: universities and military programs built the foundations for the technology cluster, which eventually spilled over to the private sector and paved the way for a growth in technology firms. One generation of entrepreneurs became experienced investors for the next. As technology evolved so did management practices and the very nature of doing business. This is how the startup movement came to be, and it is why Silicon Valley is at the very centre of it.

The strong cluster effects have made Silicon Valley the go-to place for anyone that wants to leave a mark in technology history. Today, talent and venture capital from around the world flocks to San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Cupertino - and even Oakland and Redwood City are drawing founders.

But there's more: the development of the startup movement has also been dependent on new ideas about the role of community and management, nurturing involvement from founders-to-be and students alongside active founders and the investors or mentors who came before them. This virtuous cycle is, too, most powerful in the Bay Area. Given the hunger for great talent and the relative ease of vertical movement, any new arrival will feel the pulse of Silicon Valley's technology entrepreneurs at work -- and often get swept into the fray as a new hire or first-time founder.

Into a Global Movement

In the recent decade, the startup movement has become a global revolution. Ideas about the lean startup, venture accelerators, and community building have spread far beyond California's borders. Even Startup Grind is present in 176 cities across 70 countries -- but the growth has been organic, demanded by the entrepreneurs of each city that is home to a chapter. The startup movement is very much global -- even if the startup infrastructure is still being developed in communities like Iran or Mongolia.

In a study done by Atomic maps where billion dollar software companies has been founded in the last decade, and the data supports the globalization trend: the data shows that even though North America has produced more than half (55 percent) of these companies and that Silicon Valley alone was the birthplace of around 35 percent of the global total, the rest of the world is far from sleeping. 45 percent of the companies were started outside of North America. 30 percent originated in Asia and 15 percent came from Europe. Many of these focused on local markets on other parts of internet than the English speaking one while others are truly becoming global enterprises with presence all over the world.

The Missing Link: Europe and Asia

However, as the startup movement goes global, the nature of its connections should and will become less hierarchical (take, for example, divisive startup community rankings) and more more vertically interconnected by the strengths and needs of each location. Nowhere is this problem as obvious as between Europe and Asia. Both Europe and Asia lack a single hub that can represent the whole regional ecosystem, though not for lack of trying: whether Berlin, Singapore, or Hong Kong, the influence of these hubs rarely reaches investors or talent in the Valley. 

The loss of productivity is clear: the lackluster licks between Europe, Asia, and Silicon Valley are resulting in fewer firms finding their way to lucrative new markets, forcing an expanding company to enter the market has to make the journey largely blind. For many, the potential of either the European or Asian markets become evident only after they’ve established themselves in the US. This makes the journey longer and more complicated than necessary, resulting in missed opportunities for hiring, product evolutions, or marketing strategies. In the bigger picture, this leads to a competitive disadvantage to European and Asian startups compared to their Silicon Valley peers.

Integrating the Asian and European startup ecosystem should be a priority for startup community builders, governments, universities, and investors as a means of improving the talent pool, the accessibility of new customers, and cross-border innovation. To achieve this is easier said than done and it is a process that will take time. In the end however it is a bridge worth building, as it is an essential step in build a truly global Startup Movement.

 

An earlier version of this post was preiously posted on the Startup Grind blog

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE INTERNET IN CHINA

When entrepreneur Benjamin Joffe described Internet in China as a well-protected ecosystem with unique digital species he put the finger on something important: Internet in China is different. The country is challenging our ideas about what Internet is, and as its influence grows this will get global implications. 

Nowadays, it more or less seems to be common knowledge that the Chinese Internet is censored, and that many of even the most globally essential sites are nowhere to be found in China. At the same time, many underestimate the sophistication of the country’s IT industry. So what is the most important things to know about Internet behind the Great Firewall?

The Sheer Size of It

There are more than 650 million Internet users in China today, and the number is growing fast. This makes China the country with the largest number of users in the world. Nonetheless, this still only includes 50% of the total Chinese population - about the same percentage that is residing in cities. 

The rapid growth in the number of Internet users are the result of targeted strategies from the Chinese government. The latest Five-Year-Plan prioritizes digitisation across the economy and the growth of the online sector. The government has also launched the Broadband China strategy, in which it is aiming for nationwide broadband connectivity by 2020. This means that the growth of Internet users is not set to stop any time soon. 

Going Mobile

China is leapfrogging into the mobile Internet sector. Today, the majority of new Internet users are connecting on mobile devices. This was not always the case. The launch of 3G-technology was delayed in China due to authority’s decision to promote a domestic standard. Perhaps to compensate for the delays, mobile operators are rapidly expanding their 4G networks. One year on from the launch of the first 4G services, there was already more than 200 million 4G users. The development of cheap smartphones is also helping, with companies as Xiaomi constantly cutting prices and releasing more powerful devices. This means that a smartphone is affordable for most Chinese today - not to mention these devices are selling far beyond China's shores.

Under an Watchful Eye

It might seem surprising that an authoritarian regime is promoting the Internet so vigorously, but the Chinese government is the strongest supporter of the industry’s development. The government sees Internet as a channel for growth and is confident that they can remain in control. 

In official documents, the government’s clearly stated goal is to bring the Internet under the jurisdiction of the state. The government makes no secret of the active censorship of online content. Internet services that does not accept the authority of the Chinese regulators face consistent problems, and even Google has not been immune to the pressure. Other foreign services like Facebook and Twitter are also off-limits. It should then come as no surprise that many of the leading Internet companies in China have very close relationship with people high up in the government.

Innovative

Due to the extensive censorship of Internet in China, the industry has been protected from much of the competition on the international arena. This has given the Chinese Internet ecosystem some unique characteristics. 

The first: with essential Western social media services blocked in China, copycats are effectively filling the gaps of a blocked foreign companies. However this unique ecosystem is also fostering truly innovative companies. 

In fields such as eCommerce and messaging, the industry is showing impressive novelty and could in some aspects be seen as a global leader. Wechat has been an inspiration for the development of  Facebook for mobile platforms. The fierce competition in the eCommerce sector is speeding up delivery and leading to ever more competitive prices. As the industry matures we can expect to see even more innovation coming out of the Chinese Internet industry. 

The startup movement has already reached the country with full force and innovative firms are popping up at an unprecedented rate. The Chinese government is also pulling their weight to support the industry, notes Silicon Valley veteran Steve Blank. In January this year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang presented his plan to support start-ups and what he calls “entrepreneurship in the Internet age”. This will include more support for small innovative companies as well as reforms to make it easier to run a business, which makes it an exciting time to be in the Chinese Internet industry. 

Going Forward 

So what can we expect from online Chine looking forward? China is trying to establish its own model of administrating the Internet. A model that brings Internet under the jurisdiction of the government but at the same time is open for innovation and development. Whether this will be successful or not is impossible to say. What we do know however is that this this challenging view of what Internet should be will get global implications.

 

This post was originally posted on the Startup Grind blog.