S2 Episode 15: GGV Fellows: Doing Startups in China as Young Global Talent

For all of our listeners whose life has been disrupted by the coronavirus, we want to let you know that we stand in solidarity with you. We will get through this together. If you are a startup founder, we put together some operational tactics so you can take care of your team and adapt to change and cause the least disruption in the long run.

Today’s episode was recorded during the GGV Fellows program in Beijing. It is a week-long intensive learning experience for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to get into China’s startup ecosystem. This year’s 35 fellows came from top institutions around the world. With an amazingly diverse set of backgrounds, we got everything ranging from PH.D. in machine learning to a real estate startup founder who’s also a pilot.

For this episode, we sat down with 4 GGV fellows on their life stories, takeaways from the GGV Fellows programs, and their experiences of doing startups in China.

Wenyou Tan
head of Corporate Finance @ OVO, a Fintech Unicorn in Indonesia

Raven Gao 
founder of a social app for gamers
Get in contact with Raven for his startup at kuma.nijigen.recruit@gmail.com

Sophie Luo
a Wharton MBA who built a Sales Tech company in China

Yuchen Jiang
Ex-software engineer at Facebook
 

TRANSCRIPT

 
Rita:

Sea turtle is the Chinese term to describe people who have returned to China after having studied abroad. This group was once synonymous with China’s elite who played pioneering roles in modernizing the Chinese economy and leading entrepreneur endeavors. Prominent sea turtle funded many well-known Chinese technology companies, including Sohu, Baidu and Sina. In recent years with the growing number of sea turtles returning to China, some say that sea turtle founders have lost their appeal to investor, and no longer have an absolute advantage over locally educated peers. Today, we have a few sea turtles who are either in the middle of doing startups in China or thinking about it, they are all GGV Fellows for this year. Let’s start with a quick round of self introduction, and please tell us why you applied for the GGV Fellows Program.

Wenyou:

Hi, my name is  Wenyou Tan, so I am based in Jakarta. I’m currently working in a M&A with one of Indonesia’s fastest growing unicorns. It’s a FinTech unicorn, and what we focus a lot on is doing payments. So my initial background was really from a venture capital background. I’ve been doing investments for a number of years, my first job out of college is in VC. I’ve looked at many deals and invested in many of them. And the reason why I wanted to eventually move into running a company was because rather than taking a bet on other people, why don’t I take a bet on myself. So with that, I joined one of my portfolio companies which was acquired by OVO, and I’m now in a capacity running deals for the company, acquiring deals. So the purpose of joining the GGV Fellows Program was really that, what I’ve observed as a trend, it’s that there are many Chinese investors and unicorns interested in the Southeast Asia region. So I, myself, personally have hosted a number of delegations coming to Indonesia wanting to find out more. And the purpose of coming for the program is really to understand about the thinking behind a Chinese investor, what they are looking for Indonesia so that as I embark on the fundraise for my own company, I could know what are the pain points, how to address the points, whether if there are any models that the Chinese are familiar with, and then I can repackage my company as something that they’re familiar with in China, and hopefully can fundraise from them. So this is the origin impetus of joining the program.

Rita:

Where are you from?

Wenyou:

I’m from Singapore.

Rita:

Okay, thank you.

Raven:

Hi, I’m Raven. I’m based in Beijing. And I went back to China last year, and I’m working on a social app for gamers. And last year, I was working on a different project, which was a online education startup, and it was incubated in one of the top early stage institutions in China. I applied to GGV Fellows because I want to know more peers who are doing interesting stuff here in China, and I also want to recruit some talents for my current startup.

Rita:

Thank you.

Yuchen:

Hi, my name is Yuchen. I studied computer science and stats in UC Berkeley for three years. And after that, I joined Facebook. In Facebook, I was doing the user growth for emerging markets, for example, Southeast Asia and Africa. And right now, it was almost two years and recently I have left Facebook, and I’ve been trying to explore some more opportunities. And so I’m here. I want to learn from the GGV Fellows Program to bridge the gap between my understanding to the Chinese market and the existing Chinese market.

Sophie:

Hi, my name is Sophie, and I am currently not in China. I’m doing my MBA program at Wharton. But previously in 2016, I came back to China from the Bay Area to do my own startup. It was a SaaS startup about sales tech. We had our first run of funding, but eventually decided to close it. So after that I returned to the Bay Area and worked as a first PM for a startup. It was a Chinese startup. It was headquartered in Hangzhou, where the Alibaba headquarter is. As a head of research lab in the Bay Area’s I joined them as their first product manager on augmented reality glasses project. And after that, I decided to to quit from that company and do my MBA program. After the graduation, I plan to come back to China. So that’s why I applied for the GGV Fellows, as Rita mentioned, to get plugged into the China on startup ecosystem, and to get to know more like-minded fellows, and also find ideas and  people and resources to prepare for my startup.

Rita:

Thank you, Sophie. So Raven, you and I, we were talking about the change as the oversee returnees in terms of fundraising. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Raven:

Well, what I witnessed over the last few years, I think before 2018, from 2015 to 2017, it’s actually a pretty popular idea to invest in the overseas returnees, because it’s very early stage. I meanfrom early 2010 or something. Some early stage institutions actually yielded a great multiple by just investing in those who returned from elite institutions. But after that, many institutions followed that trend and just invested in elite graduates from Ivy League and Stanford and MIT. The results were not as expected, so I think as a result, they started to get very cautious about elite returnees from elite institutions, and the shift actually happened in 2018, when people were no longer talking about consumption upgrade, but how to get into this low-end market, which is a popular term in China right now. And as you know, they’ll say overseas returnees don’t really know much about the low-end market. I would admit I already know much about Beijing. I’m from Beijing.I don’t even know about the third or fourth tier cities in China, even though I’m a Chinese native. So I think that’s pretty embarrassing for this group. And yeah, but I think that’s what’s happening right now.

Rita:

Sophie, I also want to get your opinion on that because you found it your first company in China back in 2016.

Sophie:

Yeah, I actually have a different experience. Because I was in a B2B or SaaS space. I feel like the investors have always been very cautious about sea turtles funding SaaS or doing B2B businesses. And I actually complained about this in my MBA application essay, but now I totally understand their mindset, why they are very cautious. They have concerns. I think as a young founder who doesn’t know the Chinese market very well, maybe because most of us went abroad to study at a very young age. So I think there are two questions you really need to be prepared to answer. The first is about domain knowledge, at a very basic level you need to prove that you know enough about this industry to find the user pain point, and create a good solution to your clients. But it will be better if you can prove that you know about this industry than any other people in this world, you know better about this industry than your investors and anybody else. And the second is about resources. You need to prove to your investors that you have the connections and resources to navigate through the very complicated B2B business.

Rita:

Yeah, that’s pretty tough for an overseas students who probably have spent five or 10 years already abroad to have that kind of resources. So when you were pitching to investors, what were some of your, you know, highlights that can impress them or compensate for the fact that you have gone out of China for a couple of years?

Sophie:

I would say first, you need to do very deep and comprehensive research about the industry you are going into. Second, I actually use my family background because I have a family business that’s actually in the industry I want to create a solution for. And third, show the numbers if you have a very healthy and steady revenue growth, and you have clients willing to pay and grow with you. I think that’s good science to the investors.

Rita:

So Wenyou, you’re not the only Singaporean in this program. You’re one of the two?

Wenyou:

I think three.

Rita:

One of the three. And you’re pretty established from what I heard as a founder in the Southeast Asia’s ecosystem. So when you come to China and you have interacted with a lot of Chinese founders for the past three days, what are your observations so far? And what are some of the surprises that you have   experienced?

Wenyou:

Yeah, I, myself, I’m an overseas Chinese, I’ve always been a very huge admirer of the Chinese culture. I think the way how the Chinese work is amazing. 996, 007 is a mantra that I try to stick to personally as much as possible. And it has helped me in my career in many, many ways. In terms of what I have seen in China, especially when I speak to this group of founders, I do sense gradual shifting and maturity of the mindset of entrepreneurs. I remember that when I first came back to China, I think 10 years ago, I was on an exchange program. I was doing one year of study in Fudan University. And I was also interacting with founders then. So I remembered the point time I was talking to founders, I think a lot of founders, their main focus is really on product superiority, and on product market fit, but based on what I’ve heard over the last few days, you have seen entrepreneurs focusing a lot more on management culture. Like for example, you talk about OneMore’s  CEO, he was talking about, you know how to let old employees go, how to manage employees, because to be frank, some people are just geared to do the zero to one market. Some people can scale it from one to N. So I guess that at different stages of the company, you need to have people that’s better suited skill wise to handle the expense of the company. So it’s very refreshing to my perspective to see the shift from 2008 to 2019, about what entrepreneurs value nowadays, and I think it’s absolutely right that the company places a huge importance, emphasis on management culture from the beginning of the company.

Rita:

So as you’re building your own company now, what are some practical tips you have for maybe inspiring founders who are thinking about building a culture within the startup?

Wenyou:

Just some background. When I first joined my startup company, I was the CFO then I moved to the CEO and eventually I ended up doing human resources, the reason why this was the case was because in Indonesia, there are a lot of people who are being highly sought-after, the competition for talent is fierce. So building up the culture, a strong culture ensures that your retention rate remains high. At the same time you’re able to attract people. So at least from my perspective, in terms of building up a strong culture, it starts off sounds very cliche, yes, but it sounds like it starts off from the founders. Amongst the founding group of people to be frank for us, there are no titles in between the titles are there, especially when you go out to fundraise. That’s the only important thing for me, for example, I have a team of 200 people in the past, and what we focus a lot on, it’s really doing one to ones. So I do a lot one to ones to my skip level examples of things I did was that, even if my employees my team wants to go for an MBA, I mean, the general consensus is that I will say no, you’re a senior in the company, and I want you to stay. But to be friendly, all the recommendation letters are help their family. So it’s like, for every employee, you treat him like a family member. Even for myself when I stay in Jakarta, I and my finance director, we share the same room, even till now. So I think this builds up the bonding. So from my perspective, it’s really reducing the power distance, trying to make people feel that you care. And let the feeling permeate through the entire organization. And it all starts off from the top.

Rita:

So we just mentioned what Wenyou learned from the past three days from the founders we interacted with. So what about you guys? What have you learned for the past three days, what impresses you the most?

Raven:

For me, I think it was the visit to ByteDance and the talk with ByteDance Vice Present, Mr. Xie Xin. So I was really surprised to find that our companies actually using the same metric as ByteDance, and it’s like exactly the same, we have the same philosophy. We both use OKR, and we hire the same talents, although it’s pretty hard to hire those highly qualified talents in the early stage. And I even heard Mr. Xie saying that it was really hard for ByteDance in early early days to hire those talents because none of them had ever heard of the name ByteDance. And this is what we experienced right now. So it was actually pretty encouraging for me to hear those words from a very established company, saying that it’s okay to go the hard way in early stage because it will yield a better return in the future.

 

Rita:

So as you’re hiring right now, can you tell us what kind of talent you’re looking for? And why is it so hard for you?

Raven:

Yeah, sure. So, first of all, we have a company culture called DPS. So DPS is actually a terminology in gaming, which means damage per second. It is used to describe damage you do to certain enemies in game. It’s also used to describe how useful you are as a team member, but in our culture, it stands for a different meaning. So D means drive, P means passion, and S means smart, so we want to hire those who have drive to achieve what they’re passionate about, and they do it smartly. So this is our company culture and also we want to look for those who fit into our culture. And because we are a social App for gamers, we strictly recruit those who are interested in gaming and probably also anime. So just let me make a promotional ad here, so we are hiring if you are interested in joining a very interesting and early stage startup with high potential to grow into a unicorn. Please feel free to contact me and especially if you are interested in games like Final Fantasy, Death Stranding, Monster Hunter and so on, and if you are interested in Ninja like anime, manga, and if you consider yourself as a weeb, please definitely contact me. Thank you.

Rita:

What should people search if they want to get in touch with you?

Raven:

Oh, yeah, that’s a good question because we haven’t disclosed our project yet. I would actually prefer to get contacted by email.

Rita:

Okay, we’ll have your email and in the show notes. So Yuchen, I want to come back to you. So what have you learned in the past three days?

Yuchen:

I think one observation I find from most of the founders or the VPs of these startups, is like most of them already have years of experience in a big tech company in China. So during this process, they can get to know the people, they are co-workers, can trust. And these people might be their co-founding teams after the current job. And another way I think is that they have the opportunity to observe the Chinese market to learn how Chinese business do, to find some other pain points in Chinese market. So I think to found a startup is a process of piling up or stacking all of the resources, people, money and cooperation. So I feel like if you’re in the industry for multiple years, it helps you to accumulate a lot of power to prepare for future.

Rita:

Some more experience. So would you say that when you come back to China, you would choose to work for a big internet company first before you start your own?

Yuchen:

I think it depends because to accumulate like the people, you can also choose to work in a US company, you can get to know people here and you come back to China together to found a business. And in terms of the observation on the market, I think GGV Fellows Program is a big opportunity to bridge the gap. And in addition to that, I think there are still some ways to observe the market, even if you’re in the US, like by partnering with more people, more great founders in China, to listen to the podcast, and to watch some more videos. And I also think it depends on which industry you want to work, because sometimes you can borrow your domain knowledge or expertise from a US company to migrate and apply it to a Chinese company. I think it also works.

Sophie:

Yeah, I totally agree with Yuchen that maybe it depends on which industry you are going into. To my observation, the founders of B2B or an industrial internet company are more experienced, they tend to be maybe older. And I think that responds my previous observation too. And I think another observation is that Chinese companies are going global. We heard from multiple founders that they didn’t define their companies as a Chinese company. They define on the first day that their company are a global company. They just happen to be based in China now but they have a global mindset on. I think this is really advantage for people who have the background like us, to help new Chinese startups go global and be positioned as a global company from day one.

Rita:

I think it’s a pretty common choice among sea turtles. So you basically have three options. You stay in the US and you work for a big American company. You work for a Chinese company who has global offices, and you help them expand. And also you can go straight to startups to your own startups, like what Raven did. Raven, So I’m sure at some point of your life, you faced with those three options. Why did you choose what you choose?

Raven:

Yeah, actually, it was a pretty easy choice for me, but I did experience some of the other options before that. I actually interned in a big investment banking division for a summer and it really didn’t feel well. I expected to do something more exciting, but it ended up being experienced like I literally doing Excel spreadsheets every day. So it was really discouraging for me to work for big corporations. And so basically, I didn’t consider banking and consulting as my career after that. And it was also in the early days when I took a gap year and I co-founded a company with other two guys as the CFO because I used to study finance as my major. And the company actually went well and we got some seed funding from a corporate investor, not really an institutional investor, but yeah, a corporate investor. And we did well as a beginning but then the company fell apart because the other two founders went into trouble with each other and they started making progress for the company. So it was at that moment that I realized I don’t really want my fate to be under control of others. I want to have control over what I can do and what I want to do, and that was the moment that I made my mind that I want to start my own startup, right upon graduation and not work for others, because I think I’ve accumulated some great experience by working in an investment bank and working with others to start a startup, so yes, that’s my thought.

Rita:

Thank you, Raven. What about your one? Wenyou, you’re still working for OVO right now? So can you tell us the experience of working for a unicorn in Indonesia? What is that like?

Wenyou:

It’s a very interesting experience. So when I first joined the company, so maybe I can just give you a lifecycle of events that happen, OVO reached out to Taralite, which is my previous company acquired. So my first role is really to negotiate a term sheet with the exercise that we went through yesterday with a unicorn. After doing that, we got acquired, I was doing post merger integration. So I was in human resources. Then after that my next job was to set up our insurance and investments units, essentially what OVO wants to do then was really to replicate whatever ant financial is doing in Indonesia.

 

So we wanted to set up a Yu’eBao (余额宝) out of Indonesia, we wanted to set up something like ZhongAn in Indonesia. So basically what we have done, I’ve done then was that I set up a partnership with Prudential, which is one of the biggest insurance there. So I was a business owner there. After that I move on to corporate finance, which was where I was before. So within corporate finance, I think so far, can’t review the numbers, but we have invested and acquired a number of deals, essentially for OVO, what we want to do is that we would like to become Indonesia’s largest non-banking financial institution. So in essence, we are trying to get as many licenses as possible. So I think throughout my entire one, two years in OVO, I’ve tried many roles. I think the one thing that is interesting about joining a startup like OVO, to be frank even though OVO is a unicorn, we have only been in existence for slightly over two years. The good thing is that as the company grows, there’s a lot of different opportunities for you to take. So I think over this short number of years, I’ve done many different things. I’ve expanded my networks, which is what I wanted to do in Indonesia. And now basically, I’m just doing acquisitions. I’m just doing fundraising for OVO. So that’s what I currently do now. But for me, in summary, nothing short of exciting, a lot of opportunities, and I look forward to co-creating more opportunities with OVO and hopefully to work with some of our Chinese partners here, friends.

Rita:

Thank you. The emerging market has been a big topic for the past few days as Chinese founders and investors go global, and Southeast Asia being one of the top choices, what would be your one piece of advice for founders who are thinking about expanding into that market?

Wenyou:

Thanks, Rita. It will be difficult for me to talk about Southeast Asia in general, because Southeast Asia itself is so diverse. So let me focus on my experience in Indonesia. In my humble view, if I can single out the most important thing that I see of successful companies in Indonesia, that would be the team and the team dynamics. For most Chinese founders coming into Southeast Asia, it is of utmost importance to identify a strong local co-founder. While I’ve seen some companies, some Chinese founders manage their Indonesian companies remotely from China, I have not heard of many successful cases. In fact, I hear of more failures than successes. So in this case, why is getting a strong local co-founder very important. I think it’s important because it can help the Chinese founder navigate in Indonesia, especially so if you are in highly regulated markets, like FinTech, where you need to work very closely with the local authorities the government.And in my opinion, a strong local co founder should also be one who is also locally educated. Somebody who has done his basic degree in any of the top Indonesian universities. I think this is important because a strong local co-founder has to be able to remain connected to the ground. In other words, Jiediqi (接地气 grounded in Chinese) .For founders who have spent too much time abroad, the worry often is whether if they are still attuned to the ground. One example that I can bring up, it’s my all time partner, Abraham Viktor, who founded Taralite, and later Hangry. He graduated from Indonesia’s top university, University of Indonesia, and this grants him very strong local networks, as well as a keen understanding of the local environment. His ground experience was extremely crucial, especially when we need to hire people in Indonesia, and work closely with the Indonesian government. However, the main challenge is this, as a Chinese operating in the mainland, how then are you able to get access to talent? In my view, one of this way is to move to Indonesia, like what I’ve done, and organically build up your networks from the beginning.

However, for most Chinese, I think it may be difficult to go to Indonesia, and spend several years then in a totally foreign environment. And so, the other alternative that I think that I’d like to suggest, is for Chinese founders to focus on Indonesian students who are currently studying in China. Of late I’ve seen huge influxes of Indonesians venturing off to China for overseas education, or even to take a year’s classes of Mandarin. Some of these Indonesians may also be very involved in social clubs in China, so it may be easier to reach out to them while they’re studying abroad in China. The other place would also be in Singapore. Since many years ago, the Singapore government has been providing a lot of scholarships to top Indonesian students to work and study in Singapore. After these students graduate, most of them are later required to work in Singapore. An example of a company that I have observed is Shopee, which I work closely with previously. SEA formerly called Garena, was founded first in Singapore, and hired several Indonesian scholars in Singapore. Eventually, when Sea chose to set up Shopee in Indonesia, they reach out to this group of high flying students and encourage them to return back to Indonesia to help shop set up their ground Indonesian operations. Also, of late I’ve also seen many Indonesian scholars eventually returning to Indonesia to start up their own companies, for example GGV has been, based on my understanding, has recently invested in Ruangguru, who was founded by Belva, who is a recipient of such a scholarship. My old partner in Taralite, Robin, is also one such scholar. So in my mind, in summary, finding a strong local co-founder is the most important, especially if you want to go into a totally new environment like Indonesia.

Rita:

Thank you. Raven, and have you considered building a global customer base for your startup?

Raven:

Yeah, but I think in the short run, we will truly focus on the local market, because only after you get big enough in the local market, could you consider to expand towards this market? It’s just like what ByteDance did, they initially focus their business on the domestic market and then when they are really big and then went abroad to open branches in Southeast Asia and North America, and actually did pretty well. But in the long run, we would consider to expand to global market, but we would probably first focus on East Asia market because we can relate to the other East Asia countries like Japan and Korea culturally. And they also have a pretty big culture of gaming in Japan and Korea, and I personally speak Japanese at the native level. So I think that will probably help a bit. In the long run, we would also consider Southeast Asia and North America.

Rita:

Thank you. One of the themes that I have been reflecting over the past few days is the idea of running your, how do you describe this, it’s like, if you have a product, you make it in China and you prototype and iterate because of the speed of the market and the size of the market, and the data available in the market. I want to get your views on that as well because you are trying to build SaaS product in CRM. And when you do that in China, do you actually see accelerating pace in iterating on the version of the product? Is that something that you have experienced?

Sophie:

Yeah, definitely. So we actually started in the Bay Area because our founders were in the Bay Area, but the pace was very slow because we were working essentially part-time because we had our full time job. And the customer growth was also very slow. Because it’s  essentially that we’re not providing a product that’s 10X better than our competitors. That’s why we decided to move back to China to gain more access to capital, to resources and to a bigger market. Soit’s much faster since we moved back to to China, but because we were building a product on data, so we were on incorporating data analysis and data analytics into the traditional CRM which we call an intelligence CRM product. The access to data was very limited in China, we couldn’t get like public data on the sales leads, on personal information, emails of the companies we were targeting.

Rita:

You mean in China?

Sophie:

In China. It’s not as available because we were doing B2B, Chinese companies are not as digitized compared here to the US companies. So a lot of their data, their contact data, their company data, company information were not online. We couldn’t find the abundance of data and to build our analytics tool on that data in China. And that’s why we went into a very heavy product to collect the data on our platform to allow our users to generate the data, the interaction data between them and their clients. So that’s why we started we actually started as a sales tool, but went into CRM. So I think the development and the iteration pace in China is definitely faster, but maybe depending on the nature of your business, you need to think twice about moving back to China, and also having global operations, I have teams in multiple continents and brings huge issues. First is time difference, I had to like stay up to 3am every day to be able to communicate with our, with our team in the Bay Area. And second, having face to face conversation is actually very, very meaningful. It’s it’s very important. Sometimes we we talked on zoom for hours, but if we meet face to face, it can be solved in five minutes.

Rita:

Why did you decide to close your business down and went back to B school in in the US?

Sophie:

I actually couldn’t convince myself that I’ve added two questions I mentioned in in the beginning, one expertise, domain expertise, two enough resources and connections. And so first I don’t think I really know about industry and not think that I can really acquire that deep knowledge about industry compared to people who worked like 10 years or 20 years in that industry.

Rita:

What about your family though? Because you have a family business in the industry, wouldn’t your parents, for example, have that same industry expertise that you want?

Sophie:

So we were targeting, yes some of my family businesses  is in manufacturing, we’re targeting manufacturing companies trying to sell their products abroad, and we’re building a sales tool for them to better, finds their potential clients and reach out to their potential clients. So it’s actually not, the domain expertise is not in manufacturing which maybe my parents have expertise in, but in B2B sales. Yeah, and especially on overseas B2B sales, you need to be able to deal with customers. You need to be able to like find the overseas buyers. That’s a very, very complicated process.

Rita:

So if you were to do that again, what would you do differently?

Sophie:

I would say first get access to more talents. I think I always think that people is the most important thing, and maybe spend a few years actually running a business that the type of business I am targeting at, so in that way I can know the business inside out and again, I can find the pain points and find what they really need.

Rita:

Okay, so, last question. We have a lot of listeners who are currently studying in the US and are thinking about, you know, what should be my next step. Maybe I can ask you guys when you at some point of your life, you have to make that decision, you know, joining a big corporate or coming back to China without having any offer, just trying to figure it out. What are some of the things or resources that have helped you when you make that decision that you can share it with our audiences?

Raven:

One thing to consider is what money means to you. So the answer for me is that I don’t really care if I have an annual salary of like 200 K, or like 2K, because it doesn’t really make a difference for my life. Because I mean, my life quality won’t really change much, even if I only make 2k per annum. So I made the decision to start my own startup simply because a small lump sum of money can no longer change my life. And that’s why I went for the big bet, I think for me, only if I can make my company to go public, could that change my life trajectory. So that’s why I’m only going for the big market. I only want to make a company that can at least get listed and grow to a unicorn. So this was not a hard decision for me. So if you have the same background and you have the same value about money, I think you should definitely go pursue entrepreneurship. Because working in banking or consulting, it’s really pointless for people like, us. Yeah, that’s my advice, and also to be a mythbuster here, because most of your listeners would likely come from elite institution, I just want to elaborate on one point that I never heard others talking about. Most of the time, investors and college professors in entrepreneurship would tell you that you should work with someone you have known for a long time, especially his college classmates and people like that, I don’t recommend you doing so, especially for an elite sea turtles who are from like Ivy League, Stanford, and MIT, because you would likely get into troubles with a trouser once you start a startup, because people from those backgrounds usually have a very high ego. And they have, they have critical thinking. And this is critical for a startup because you can’t really make decisions fast enough, you’d get into trouble, you’d get into debate, and the debate will get heated and then the startup would fall apart. So my experience is that you should actually find someone with local expertise and enough working experience to start a startup. So an ideal co- founder would be someone who come from a good background in a local domestic Chinese university and worked in the internet industry for at least I think, three years, so that he can compensate for your lack of experience and lack of local expertise. And I’m actually working with such a co-founder and we are having a good time. So yes, that’s my second point yeah, just my two senses.

Rita:

Thank you. Yuchen?

Yuchen:

Yeah, I think it depends on who you want to be and which lifestyles you like. So for example, if you want a relaxed life live, if you want to enjoy like beautiful sky in the US, if you don’t want to work too much, then I think the best choice is to join a US complete. But I think if you think you have more resources, you know more people, money, you have more operations in the US. And if you think the product faces better in the US, then maybe you can find the stuff in the US. But if you feel like in China will have more potential on consumers, if you feel like your product might fit better in China, then you can go back to China and to found a startup in China. So I think it’s a trade-off.

Wenyou:

From my perspective, my view has always been that you have to determine your positioning. In early 2010, I was in China operating. And I thought that it wasn’t easy, primarily because I don’t have the local contacts, coming from overseas. And an extra reason why I eventually went off to do my MBA. And I was very clear to my MBA that I wanted to still go back into the investment scene. So straight after my MBA, I joined an investment firm SBI, which was formerly called SoftBank investments. At the point time, the clear thing I wanted to do was that I wanted to be in a place where I can add value to Southeast Asian companies, but not exactly sure when. So the major part of my thinking process would be three things. The first thing is, if I go and operate a new market, where they if I can learn the language easily, that’s very important. The second thing is I have networks that can help me breach over to a new market. Because we’re operating in Vietnam likely in your school, you’d like to be able to know some Vietnamese friends, we can help you introduce you to people locally. And the third thing is whether if the skill set that I am training for would be useful in overseas market. So when I look at all these three factors, I thought that Indonesian language, it’s something that I’ve been exposed to since young, suddenly I can pick up quite easily. The second thing is that, for fundraising itself, it is a skill set that is heavily required, because in Indonesia, the capital markets is not as developed as compared to the US and China. And coming from the background, I can help my co-founders to build up their business. And the third thing in terms of the networks, a number of my classmates are now operating in Indonesia. I’ll say around close to 10% of my class are now in Indonesia, right now. So it’s easy for me to operate, build partnerships. The next reason as these are the three main reasons as to why I decided to make the move back to Indonesia. In summary, I think it depends on your own global positioning. I think coming from a perspective as to whether you’re a Haigui (Sea Turtles), or whether you’re Huaqiao (Overseas Chinese), I think the same whether you can really acclimate, and sometimes being away for far too long. The it might be too difficult for you to catch up, then in that case, you need to think about your positioning, I guess, maybe from a Haigui’s perspective, it could be helping Chinese companies to go to the US or maybe it could be coming to Southeast Asia and looking out for a new market or this 10 countries. So depending on your own personal skillsets also.

Rita:

Thank you.

Sophie:

So for me personally, going back to China has always been the ultimate goal, the matter is when. So I feel that the learning curve in the US is not as steep of as what I could get in China. I think it’s a time to come back. And because of that, I chose to join a US branch of a Chinese startup after my startup fails, instead of joining a typical US company because I didn’t want to get too detached from the China startup ecosystem. And in that way, I could know what’s happening on the Chinese market, I could get more connections in China. And I think events like this actually helped me make me more determined to come back to China. And I would tell a story. So when when we went buy coffee in Guomao, a couple of days ago, that used, how you say that you pay with your your face scan, facial recognition, through alipay. And all of us, like five of us, are all coming back from Silicon Valley. And we were joking about this. We are a group of people coming from Silicon Valley, who has never seen technologies? So I think the pace of innovation and the size of market is definitely on unprecedented in China right now. So I think the events like GGV Fellows introduced me to ecosystem and showed us the the how well the Chinese startups are doing and made me more determined to come back.

Rita:

Okay, thank you, everyone for joining us for this episode. I wish you best of luck.