As part of my Zhi-Xing Eisenhower Fellowship, I had the opportunity to visit Beijing for two weeks of official briefings and personal visits with startups, investors, incubators, social innovators and old friends.
My deepest appreciation for the wonderful representatives at China Education Association for International Exchange, Perfect World Co., Renmin University of China, Tsinghua University, US Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Science and Technology, Great Wall Club, Garage Cafe, TusHoldings/TusStar, and US-China Business Council. Each of the officials/host organizations were more than generous with their time and provided valuable insight. We often host foreign delegations in Washington DC and I hope to serve others as well as I was treated upon my arrival to China.
The following provides a brief overview of the startup scene in Beijing. As with cities across the globe, there are multiple aspects of the business community, comings and goings, thought leaders to consult and gatherings to attend … this thumbnail sketch is just that.
Startups, acquisitions, and mergers have been mushrooming in Beijing, China. This new revolution can be attributed to Beijing’s sustainable location for entrepreneurship, recovery of economic downturns, and impressive government support in China, which have permeated the rapid technological innovations. Moreover being the capital of one of the most technological nations in the world, Beijing has been home to some of the top technological companies in the world- Lenovo, Baidu, and Alibaba just to name a few. This has earned Beijing the name- China’s Silicon Valley.
Another major attribute, which has seen the continual establishment of businesses in the region, pertains to the enormous population of the city. Beijing’s population of around 21.7 million people makes it one of the best cities to find the best business deals and good leads for startups. The massive population provides startups with a unique opportunity to address a variety of business segments effectively as well as an opportunity to address various needs of customers. It also creates massive potential for startups to scale up and achieve reasonable growth and sustainability within a short period.
Notable Startups in the Business Community
The ecosystem of startups in the city owes a lot to the mature investment and competitive innovations among businesses to produce quality and authentic products and services. In addition, the robust support from the government, which offers massive deals of tax holidays as well as subsidies and R&D (Research and Development) incentives for startups, which promote technology and innovation is also a contributing factor to the rapid growth of startup businesses in the region.. There are several companies, which are shaping the tech industry in Beijing. They include:
Baidu > Baidu is a contemporary Google of China. The search engine is not only popular in China but, has been striving to ensure that it adds unique experiences to the lifestyles of users. This has seen Baidu branching out to offer other innovative services apart from internet services such as the Baidu Wallet which enables e-payments, food delivery services throughout the China’s mainland and also has a big stake in the investment of Artificial Intelligence.
Baidu is one of the tech companies in Beijing, which has employed hundreds of engineers and innovators and continues to expand beyond China to other parts of Asia as well.
Alibaba > This Beijing-based company came into limelight when it publicly traded its shares in 2014, which had one of the best IPO frenzies in history. Alibaba boasts as the largest e-commerce platform in the world. Its platform offers B2C, C2C and B2B opportunities, hence preferred by many distributors and drop shippers. The company has branched out in other services apart from e-commerce, which includes e-payment through Alipay and B2B cloud computing through Aliyun.
The Alibaba Research team hosted us for a dinner discussion which also featured SBA alumni Dr. Ying Lawrey. We met brilliant team members, shared laughs, and committed to joint studies on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Didi Chuxing > This is China’s version of Uber. As a matter of fact, in August this year, after a long struggle with Didi, Uber agreed to a partnership agreement that keeps their brand alive in China.
Didi, which was founded in 2012, is offer ride hailing services across China’s mainland. The company has gone beyond being a taxi app service company and has started other services such as carpooling and ride sharing in conjunction with local cab drivers.
Xiaomi > This tech startup is currently the world most valuable startup in the field of technology. The Beijing-based company is a renowned maker of electronic goods and appliances, smartphones, laptops, and mobile apps.
Founded in 2010, the company has enjoyed enormous success especially in the manufacture of smartphones and has a huge client community of over 180 million users worldwide and over 10 million beta testers
JD.com > This startup is the Amazon version of China. This reputed company is revered for offering authentic products and for their same-day delivery services. The company uses innovative technology to ensure that it offers cutting-edge services to its clients by using unique business models to offer enhanced lifestyle experiences to its clients
DeepGlint > This is another startup, which has been growing rapidly in the home capital of China. DeepGlint is a manufacturer of innovative and high-quality security and surveillance cameras (CCTV). However, what sets it apart in the fact that their technology specializes in 3D visualization and machine learning technologies for their products.
Other major startups include Meittuan-Dianping, Ninebot, Turing Robot, just to mention a few.
Recent Economic News in Beijing
In a move to avoid a ‘protectionist backlash’ as warned by a top European business lobby, the China’s State Council on 1st October this year said it was committed to improving the access of foreign investments in China. The meeting, which was chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, said that the government of China was committed to promoting a competitive business environment for both local and foreign companies seeking investment in the country. These comments come at a time when the government of China has been criticized by the foreign business community of providing unbalanced access to foreign investment as opposed to local investments.
In other recent news, 10 Canadian startups will get an opportunity to experience the China business community as they seek an international market for investment in Beijing China. The 10 companies will be attending the China Angles Mentorship Program (CAMO) in Beijing later this year. They include:
Cyclica, Stack Fintech, Mosaic manufacturing, Law Scout, Cryptiv, Sage Senses, Suncayr Inc, Direct Communication Systems, TritonWear, and Industry Corporation.
The business community of startups in Beijing is expected to continue flourishing, but other cities such as Shenzhen and Shanghai might have more growth in future than this capital of China.
Next up is Guangzhou … overview coming shortly.
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