Built on the momentum created by Song towards the end of year 2010, right after the new year, we were fortunate to have Dr. Kelly Zhang from Nanjing sharing her experiences doing business in China(need club membership to access this file hosted on Google docs). Then we had an experienced accountant Jean from Chou Accounting to give a tax seminar tailored for small businesses. On the same day, Mei Lu, CEO of a local startup Jobfully, shared her experience building business. Kudos goes to them for their support of our Chinese entrepreneur community here in Greater Seattle area.
We do have some members travelling as well. Ben came back from a trip to Guangzhou and Xiamen. His impression is that
- The government in China is very determined in developing high tech industries to improve the competiveness in the global market. More than 2000 people attended the convention in Guangzhou. Dozens of cities had booths there to attract talent.
- More and more overseas technical people are returning to China. And more returnees are just fresh out of college or graduate school from overseas.
- It takes a lot of courage and commitment to start a business. Words from some successful returnee entrepreneurs: if you haven’t gone full-time, it means that you are not ready yet. There is no perfect timing in one’s life to start one’s own business. There always seems to be something in the way: one needs to get a degree, gain some experience, have some savings, maybe pay a mortgage, wait in a long queue for green card, start a family, support children’s education … Lot of successful entrepreneurs took big risks and made big sacrifices (including but not limited to: being separated with family for a long time, while collecting minimum wage in China).
- Time and tide waits for no man. It is a great time to start a business in high tech in China (with all the governmental support in place, convergence of mobile, SNS and LBS).
SQL made a trip to the startup contest summit held in Santa Clara on January 9. More than 1000 people attended the summit and there were a few quite interesting points from the panel discussions on opportunities in starting businesses in China:
- Domestic consumer demand is creating room for creating lots of new products and services
- Ample capital is available due to
- Hot money speculating on RMB appreciation
- Higher capital efficiency (10:1) in China
- Local investment ++, lowering bar for IPO (<1B RMB revenue, <100M RMB profit)
- RMB fund has exceeded US$ fund
- Support from central and local government (Even 3rd tier cities like Wuhu, Ma’anshan are warming up to high-tech startups)
However, challenges remain for returnee tech entrepreneurs in China:
- Recruit and retain talent
- Product and market: Focus on market and customers/users
- Enterprise software users could defer payment for years … Big difference from US.
- Need to build large and supportive network from scratch
- People skills are much more important than technical skills
Last but not the least, January was also our club survey month. A record 30 people took the survey. 93% of the people who took the survey are now actively working on their ideas, and for the first time in close to three years, we had a full-time entrepreneur. It surely is a great start for something greater.