Sunday, December 30, 2012

Predicing Top Trends for Startup Asia In 2013

As we get ready to ring in the new year, here’s my top 10 predictions for Startup Asia in 2013 — with a decided Silicon Valley lens. In case you missed it, this forecast follows last week’s recap of the top 10 Startup Asia trends in 2012.

Here goes:

1. Silicon Valley will remain the global tech hub followed by China though innovation centers in clusters around the world will matter more. Think Indonesia, Brazil and Russia, and of course, the perennial, Israel. London too will help to jumpstart innovation again in Europe as Silicon Roundabout becomes a reality. Entrepreneurs from around the world still flock to the Valley for that spark of imagination.

2. Startups will consolidate or die in the emerging Asian tech strongholds of China and India as the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. The result will be more concentration of breakthrough products from fewer players and more pressure on startups to scale up quickly with a distinct advantage or get swallowed up.

To read all 10 trends, click Startup Asia 2013 at

Top 10 Trends for Startup Asia in 2012

As the 2012 calendar near a close in this Chinese Dragon year, it’s time to reflect on the top trends that defined the increasingly sophisticated Startup Asia scene over the past 12 months.

Here’s a few observations here from my many journalistic travels and interviews in China and India during 2012.

1. The rise of the serial entrepreneur. Those who struck it rich with their first startups are now going back in for another try, this time with more cash of their own and with lessons learned. It’s a phenomenon that jumpstarted Silicon Valley and has now spread to Asia’s tech hotspots.

2. The arrival of the angel investor. Serial entrepreneurs are turning to angel investing as a way to seed lots of startups. The jury is still out if these first-time investors can make good bets, but early signs indicate that they are applying their skills to this new artistry. Check out Shanghai’s AngelVest as an example of how this model works.

3. Going private. With stocks trading low, several company founders raised enough private equity finance to take their companies off US exchanges and private again. Witness Focus Media, and a lot more in the cue. When and where the companies are re-listed is a trend to watch.

4. Survival of the fittest for venture firms. Those with a good track record and investment returns raised new funds, such as GGV Capital, which raised a fourth fund. Those that couldn’t get traction have gone silent or shifted their management teams. It’s a natural weeding out of venture firms in Asia, following a pattern that happened in the U.S. a decade earlier.

Continue reading post at Click Startup Asia 2012 Trends.

5. Venture club deals. Venture capitalists are hedging their bets by grouping together and investing in deals that seemed destined to be big winners. Particularly favored are deals that have earlier angel financing say from a big name like Lei Jun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tencent's WeChat Speeding Past QQ In Uptake

Tencent's WeChat international trio:
Ian Chan, Poshu Yeung, Norman Tam
at Silicon Dragon award event

Imagine a mobile phone ‘app’ so appealing that it reaches 200 million users within 8 months of launch without any promotion and quickly spreads to 30 countries.

That’s Tencent WeChat, the highly popular text and voice messaging service from China that is becoming the ‘must have’ communication tool among the global technorati. WeChat is one of the first tech services from China to tap an international customer base and to sport more users outside the home country than domestically.

Even Poshu Yeung (photo center), VP of Tencent’s international group, admits he’s a little surprised by how quickly WeChat took off. He notes that WeChat surpassed QQ, its wildly popular instant messaging service in China, in

its adoption rate — partly because the name of the service was changed from Weixin or micro message to the easily pronounceable WeChat.

Yeung (see photo) was recently named Silicon Dragon Entrepreneur of the Pearl River Delta 2012 at a Silicon Dragon event in Hong Kong recognizing the break-out success of WeChat. A former group tech manager at Google for five years and a graduate of UC-Berkeley, Yeung joined Tencent in 2008 as a quiet techie who later

took on managerial roles requiring constant communication. 

Accepting the award on behalf of the team, he described the work environment at Tencent, which borrows some entrepreneurial script fom Google with innovation baked into its culture. There’s competition among teams for innovations and developers can devote 20 percent of their time to explore new projects — (remind you of Silicon Valley?) with performance results as the key motivational driver, not salaries. More than half of Tencent’s staffers are software developers or engineers, which gives an idea of the culture.  

To read more of this post at Forbes, see WeChat Speeding.

The Silicon Dragon Entrepreneur Award is aimed at recognizing startups that fit three distinct criteria. First, they must have created an innovative and breakthrough product or service. Secondly, the startup’s management must be dynamic and passionate leaders that have brought their company to an industry leading position. Finally, the company must have achieved rapid growth over at least two years consecutively as a startup or emerging enterprise. The Silicon Dragon award, which is presented annually in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, is sponsored by KPMG.



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Monday, September 3, 2012

Silicon Dragon Eyes Shanghai's New Tech Hub

Silicon Dragon (above) recently interviewed Charles Chan, the executive director of Shuion Land, about the company's new tech hub in Shanghai, Knowledge and Innovation Community or KIC.

It's the site of our Silicon Dragon Shanghai 2012 event, held on September 13 with the city's leading venture investors and tech entrepreneurs. See you there!

Charles Chan
l  What is the vision for KIC and is it a kind of Sand Hill Road for Shanghai?
        Compared to Sand Hill Road, Sand Hill Road is notable for its concentration of venture capital firms, and easy access to Stanford University and Silicon Valley. KIC is dedicated to become a platform to align with different resources from “Campus” , “Community” , “Tech Park” to cultivate and incubate start-ups and help them grow to a greater scale. But KIC not only integrated the scientific innovation spirit of US Silicon Valley, but also absorbed the creative culture of Paris Left Bank. It has become a place for communication, information exchange, negotiation and cooperation, and even relaxation. It's a cradle for entrepreneurship and innovation in China, and accelerating it through international best practices.

l  Why was KIC located close to Fudan University? Is this because of the cluster effect, such as Silicon Valley with Stanford University
Of course. KIC is located in the Wujiaochang sub-center in the Yangpu district of Shanghai, clustering within 14 major universities and colleges, including Fudan and Tongji. The abundant resources of universities and research institutions nearby cannot be found anywhere else in Shanghai. Those nearby universities provide talent support and bring continuous energy to those MNCs in KIC. For example, both ebaoTech & EMC signed a strategic partnership with surrounding universities including internship program/training course/lab research, etc. The key concept for KIC is “three zones integration:” “Campus” , “Community” , “Tech Park.” We believe that our “Knowledge and Innovation Community” will eventually become a platform for information exchange and communication based on the resources and talents from “Campus”, supported by the domestic and international high-tech corporations in “Tech Park”, venture capital firms and the government services, inspired by the atmosphere and lifestyle in “Community”.

l  Will Shui On Group develop other tech centers like this in other locations in China, in addition to Shanghai and Dalian?

KIC (Knowledge and Innovation Community) is a new business model, and we are still exploring possiblilities to make our vision come true. Now Shuion Land has a similar project, Dalian Tiandi in northern China, with GFA 3 million sqm, and focused on the global software and outsourcing industries to provide an integrated community. While we are extending our reach in the Chinese property market, we have stepped up our effort to set the trend and contribute to the creation of large-scale, multi-faceted knowledge communities to provide a total "work-live-learn-play" environment. I think KIC sets a model for us to introduce similar projects in other key cities in China.

l  How did Shui On Group get the idea for KIC? How long was the idea in development? how does this project compare to Xintiandi?

The story traces back to Shui On Group founder – Vincent Lo. Mr. Lo himself is a successful entrepreneur, and he has the strong passion to help young people. When he visited Silicon Valley over eight years ago, he was inspired and dedicated to create a “Silicon Valley” in Shanghai, which was quite forward looking in China. In his vision, KIC will be a think tank to assemble world famous enterprises and top class elite talents in scientific research, finance, and business consulting, and also become a platform for cultural exchange regularly for organizing various cultural activities, promoting communication, and enriching community life.

Both XINTIANDI and KIC have a full range of modern facilities for residential, office, retail, entertainment and leisure. Shui On projects provide a unique environment enabling life enrichment of "Live-Work-Play".
In terms of difference, XINTIANDI is the “city’s living room”, a Shanghai landmark, a trendy place for people from all over the world to play, entertain, live, work and enjoy. It blends the architecture charm of "shikumen" with modern features and facilities. While KIC is a knowledge community, it aims to create an environment where innovators and entrepreneurs can share knowledge, communicate, negotiate, cooperate, and relax.

 l  How is KIC encouraging startups in Shanghai?

Part of KIC’s core offering is an enterprise ecosystem where companies, foreign and local, big and small, can interact and work together for mutual benefits. While big companies and technology leaders would be a major anchor to this ecosystem, innovation and entrepreneurship would provide the talent and creativity needed to sustain the long-term vibrancy and growth of the Community.

Towards this goal, KIC has been actively promoting and nurturing entrepreneurial culture and spirit since its inception. It cooperated with Dragon TV in 2005 to launch a TV entrepreneurship competition named Winner in Shanghai, which set off a surge of entrepreneurial activity. Impressed with KIC's offerings, the winning players have subsequently hosted their operations in KIC.

Learning from the successful experience of Silicon Valley, KIC also founded the IPO Club where dozens of innovative entrepreneurial activities are held every year. As Shanghai’s first entrepreneurship club, IPO rolled out KIC Star incubation program, for prominent and successful businessmen and industry leaders to share their knowledge and experiences, as well as mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. More than 10 aspiring entrepreneurs have been successfully matched and coached by KIC mentors in the past two years.

KIC has nurtured technology startups since its inception. Some of these companies are now market leaders in their own right. Some have successfully obtained funding and even listed in overseas bourses. KIC now seeks to further enhance its incubator platform. Apart from the usual provision of plug-and-play venue for entrepreneurs, this incubator will offer a whole suite of services to help support and nurture the growth of startups from business match-making to technology partnership and licensing to fund raising to even international expansion.

 l  How many companies are now located at KIC -- both startups and SMEs, plus tech companies?
KIC is home to now more than 300 enterprises, with more than 6,000 talents working here. Small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and technology startups make up more than 80% of this Community. Fortune 500 companies like EMC, Oracle, IBM and Deloitte are some of the MNC member companies of our Community.
l  How important are Silicon Valley Bank, Bay Area Council and Innovation Works to the success of KIC?

As part of its holistic enterprise ecosystem, KIC works very closely with key players like government bodies, universities and research institutions, professional bodies and so on, to help companies to grow and expand. Silicon Valley Bank, Bay Area Council and Innovation Works are some of our partners in this ecosystem. In particular Silicon Valley Bank and Bay Area Council work closely with us to provide an effective landing pad for American companies to expand and grow in China and in turn, for our Community members to expand and grow in US as well. In fact, we have a Joint Venture with TUSPark, Silicon Valley Bank and Northern Light Venture Capital in the form of an incubator in Santa Clara, USA to do just that. We launched this incubator called InnoSpring in mid-April this year, and demand for its services has been encouraging; with some 30 companies being hosted in InnoSpring.

KIC also works closely with partners in other major technology hubs such as Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, to actively link our Community members with potential partners for market and technology access, as well as funding. Through our networks, our Community companies could also have access to launches in these overseas markets. For example, our Japanese partner has made available its incubating space and services to KIC Community members for free. Through its strategic partnership with key players both domestically and internationally, KIC constantly seeks to improve its enterprise ecosystem to better support its Community.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Promise of Silicon Global

Draper University in San Mateo
Silicon Valley is going global but don’t count on any market to surpass it soon.

Today, just about every market in the world is aiming to capture the Valley’s magic: creativity, optimism, not to mention blue skies, clean air and mild year-round temperatures.

Brazil and Russia are two emerging markets that are vying to get on the tech map and Sand Hill Road investors have arrived. Both follow the lead of China and India, which continue to show the challenges and opportunities of creating world-class tech startups and innovations from developing markets. Read more at Silicon Asia post at Forbes. 

Of course, not every market can copy the Silicon Valley formula. It takes a special blend of talent and funds all clustered together to make it happen.

Where else but Silicon Valley could a venture capitalist open their own entrepreneurial school? See photo I took of Draper University, which VC Tim Draper is opening in the former Benjamin Franklin Hotel currently under renovation in downtown San Mateo.

We'll be exploring the theme of Silicon Global at our next event in the Valley, October 3, at Rosewood Sand Hill. See the program and sign up here: Silicon Dragon Valley 2012.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Chengdu Mixes Chips, Bytes, Pandas & iPhones

Chengdu entrepreneur
 Kevin Yang
Best known as a place to see pandas, sample spicy Sichuan food, and trek to Tibet, Chengdu is aiming high, trying to take on a new identity as a tech innovation hub in western China, following the lead of Silicon Valleys in Shanghai and Beijing.  

This surprisingly modern city today sports software parks, incubation labs, science universities, few bicycles, and yes, plenty of young entrepreneurs who still idolize Steve Jobs and are eager to make their mark with a successful IPO of their techie startup. Multinational corporations including Intel, Lenovo and Texas Instruments have landed in Chengdu to do research and development -- not to mention that Apple makes iPhones and iPads here.
The rapid growth of Chengdu's software and technology businesses -- revenues were up 64 percent in 2011 to $48 billion -- makes worries about a China economic slowdown seem ridiculous.
So too does the bubbling consumer economy. Work crews and cranes are putting up a theme park and shopping mall in one gigantic complex that is also supposed to house two 7!-star hotels. (Only in China.) Then on another major thoroughfare a brand-new Louis Vuitton store stands out -- one more shopping option for newly minted Chinese millionaires.

In recent years, Chengdu has set out to transform its economy from a manufacturing and logistics base to a tech innovation capital that could hold a candle to Silicon Valley.  It's what every city planner worldwide dreams of today.
Sign at Chengdu construction site:
"The inconvenience today is to
facilitate tomorrow."
From my recent explorations in Chengdu, this formula is beginning to show some results. The startup trend was particularly noticeable among the switched on technopreneurs I recently interviewed in Chengdu.

Take, for example, Kevin Yang, the founder of Tap4Fun, which makes games for iPhones and iPads. It's his third startup and Kevin acts and talks like a Valley boy, even though he's only been outside of China once, to Tokyo for a meeting with big-time venture investor Masayoshi Son of Softbank Capital.

Kevin says he has read all the books about Steve Jobs and has monitored on-line courses from Stanford and MIT. His computer science degrees come from Chengdu's top computer science school (USETC), where he cranked up his first mobile gaming startup while an undergrad. His second startup was a made-in-China Twitter application called TwitBird that proved popular in Korea and Japan but has been sidelined, Kevin says, because there was no revenue model for the ap. Sound familiar?

I got a tip-off that Kevin is now on to a good thing (he wants to take his current startup public) when I happened to run into a leading Shanghai venture capitalist at Tap4Fun's office. So much for Tap4Fun remaining in stealth mode!

Other venture investors including Chengwei, Gobi, Morningside, Matrix and Ceyuan are looking to Chengdu as a next, lower-cost frontier in China as entrepreneurs in China's major cities have gotten greedy about deal terms. Angel investors have arrived too such as Maipu Ventures, a spin-off of Chengdu-based networking equipment company Maipu Communication.

Several other startups caught my attention during my tech tour of Chengdu. Pinguo Digital Entertainment makes a social ap for sharing photos (like Instagram) and claims 30 million users. Then there's a very localized startup named the Institute of Care-Life that makes earthquake detection and protection equipment, a reminder of the massive earthquake that struck nearby in 2008. 

It's still early days for Chengdu but the potential is there. Chengdu is home to 1,400 IT companies, including 200 of those in the Fortune 500 big leagues. The ultra-modern and sprawling Tianfu Software Park aims to be a second city rival to Beijing's Zhonguancun district, the heart of tech in China. Christine Du, the president of the software park, talks up the city's Silicon Valley culture and spirit and its carefree style.   

Chengdu does have a friendly and relaxed culture. But it reminds me more of the U.S. Midwest than the San Francisco Bay Area. Chengdu's flat open plains and largely nondescript buildings signal big city Chicago to me but without the lake, extreme temperatures and the wind.

Promoters of Chengdu struggle to get the right message to tourists and to corporate investors alike about its attractions beyond pandas and assembly lines. Chengdu has put a major ad agency to work on crafting its brand and the city has hired a savvy social media strategist who tweets out chirpy messages on Twitter and China's Twitter-like Weibo. 

Getting people to think of Chengdu for chips and bytes could really begin to happen as more and more tech majors move west in China and deal makers find the gems here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Silicon Dragon Entrepreneur of Beijing Award Goes to Borqs CEO Pat Chan

Congratulations to Pat Chan (left) of Borqs for winning this year's Silicon Dragon Entrepreneur of Beijing Award. News of the award was retweeted by Intel Capital to its more than 7,000 followers on Twitter.
Here's the press release, from PR Newswire:
Borqs International Holding Corp (Borqs), a leading global end-to-end Android+ and Cloud software solutions provider, recently announced that company CEO and President Mr. Pat Chan was honored as the recipient of the 2012 Silicon Dragon Entrepreneur OF BEIJING Award. Speaking at the awards ceremony on May 31 in Beijing, Mr. Chan shared his entrepreneurial experiences and Borqs' development story with other entrepreneurs from well-known mobile internet enterprises including Renren, Innovation Works, Dangdang and Yesky. Mr. Chan also highlighted Borqs' expanded global market development strategy. The award not only acknowledges Mr. Chan's personal entrepreneurship, but also reflects Borqs' numerous achievements in mobile internet Android+ software and services platform solutions in recent years.
Accepting the award, Mr. Chan said: "I want to express my thanks to Silicon Dragon for awarding this honor to me and my team. This is proof of Borqs' successes in the five years since we began in 2007 and the recognition we have received from the Silicon Dragon judges and some of the technology industry's most senior and respected individuals. Through five years of active exploration and practice in the mobile internet field, Borqs has accumulated a great deal of experience in providing Android+ software platform and service platform solutions for mobile internet while maintaining a healthy growth rate. Looking to the future, Borqs will continue to uphold its commitment to its customers around the world. We mean to become a representative for creativity and openness in the mobile internet industry, and Borqs will continue to leverage the innovative abilities of our outstanding staff of technical professionals to spur development throughout the industry."
We are very pleased to see Mr. Chan and his dynamic team continue with great strides in developing innovative solutions to further drive growth and openness in this industry," said David Xu (center, photo), Partner, KPMG China, the audit, tax and advisory services firm that sponsors the Silicon Dragon award series.
Mr. Chan, one of Borqs' founding members, has also been honored to receive the High-Caliber Talent from Overseas Award from both the national and the Beijing governments. Mr. Chan has brought over 20 years of executive-level experience in wireless communication and the information and ICT sector to Borqs. With Mr. Chan's guidance, Borqs has leveraged its strength in innovation and R&D to make a series of landmark achievements in the Chinese market. Internationally Borqs has established partnerships with operators in the US, the Asia Pacific region, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Borqs has entered into strategic alliances with the world's leading OEM manufacturers and chip vendors to provide commercialized Android+ software solutions. Under the guidance of its richly experienced management team, Borqs will continue to provide its customers with superior user experiences supported by scalable, stable and advanced back-end technologies.
About the Silicon Dragon Entrepreneurs Award
Winners of the Silicon Dragon Entrepreneur Award must meet the following criteria for selection:
"Must haves"
  • An innovative product or service in a tech or related area: mobile communications, e-commerce, social networking, Internet, online games, cloud computing, outsourcing, cleantech and healthcare
  • A dynamic, passionate CEO/founder with some international company experience and/or education at a top university
  • A high-caliber management team with fully staffed positions for CTO, CFO, Sales and other top executive posts
  • Raised at least one round of venture capital from a prominent firm
  • Reported fast growth at least two years in a row for startup or emerging company
  • A market leader, with sizeable market share that can be documented by an outside industry source
  • Profitable or on a quick path to profitability
  • A highly qualified board of directors from the industry
  • English-language fluency
  • A surprise factor such as a major milestone or accomplishment that seemed impossible
Rebecca A. Fannin, the well-known journalist and author of "Silicon Dragon", established the award in 2010 through the news, events and thought leadership group she leads, Silicon Dragon Ventures. "The award aims to showcase the latest developments in Asian entrepreneurship and encourage the continued growth of an innovation ecosystem in the region through sharing best practices," Ms. Fannin said At Silicon Dragon events held in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and key innovation hubs, founders, investors and leaders of companies from key industries such as venture capital, IT and social networking are invited to share their experiences and entrepreneurial spirit.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Facebook Effect on China's Renren

It was little more than a year ago that China’s Facebook, Renren, went public on the NYSE. Now the spotlight is on Facebook and its debut on NASDAQ.

There’s debate over Renren really is a China Facebook, like Baidu is a Chinese version of Google. Certainly there is a world of difference. Facebook has not entered China while Baidu competed with Google for several years in China.

Renren is the top social networking site in China, while Facebook is a leader is just about every market globally except China. With a market as huge as China’s and with so much market potential for games, social networking and social commerce, Renren’s turf is China.

Facebook likely faces a challenging time if it does enter China. Keep reading this post at Forbes.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Startup Asia Deals Count in 1/4 of Forbes Midas List of 100 Top 100 VCs

What a difference it makes to have China and India included in the Forbes’ Midas List 2012.

Of the top 100 venture capitalists who scored in this annual ranking, 12 who have funded startups in China are new on the 2012 list from last year. Two VCs active in India emerged on the 2012 ranks.

DCM and IDG Accel were among those firms that excelled with the expansion of China to the mix in 2012. The inclusion of India this year propelled Accel India and Mayfield Fund in the 2012 rankings.

The list reflects the importance of China and India as emerging hotspots of technology innovation, as well it should! China and India accounted for 17% of the total venture capital invested in 2011. Overall, the 2012 rankings highlight the growing range of dealmakers globally who have become active in China and India over the past five years.

What the dealmaker rankings also factor in is the fast increase among their funded Chinese startups that have gone public in the U.S. over the past five years. Prominent on the list of the VCs portfolios are recently listed Chinese companies Renren, Tudou, HiSoft Tech, Dangdang, Bitauto, VanceInfo and Qihoo 360.

China’s Facebook-plus site, Renren, appears on four of the VCs’ portfolio of deals. Other Chinese deals that repeat on the deal list are outsourcing company HiSoft Tech and video sharing site Tudou. From India, travel sevice MakeMyTrip was notable among the deals made by the top-100 ranked VCs.

Perhaps next year’s list can take into account the post-IPO performance of the deals! Many of those recently listed companies noted above are trading below their IPO price.

Privately held companies in China and India mattered in the rankings of the top 100 as well. From China, among the prominently cited deals are GroupOn-like Lashou and gaming portal Duowan. From India, medical device maker Perfint and online retailer Flipkart from India are notably recognized.

Here’s my tally of the 12 VC newcomers in 2012 doing deals in China, in order of their rank.
See Startup Asia tally at Forbes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Silicon Dragon Beijing 2012: Serial Entrepreneurs Set up Shop in China

If at first you do succeed, try, try again! That must be the motto of a growing group of startup founders in China who just won’t quit! More and more young entrepreneurs are racing to do their second or third startup in China’s highly energized markets — before this opportunity to catch the wave is gone.

The first generation who made it with Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Sina and Renren are moving on to do their second or third startup in China. It’s one more sign that China’s Silicon Valley is growing up fast! and becoming more and more like the original.

In the Valley, I often meet entrepreneurs who are on to their next new venture. Ask them their track record and most will admit that they have at least one failure among the bunch. The culture of moving on, despite failure, is one reason why Silicon Valley has thrived. Now, this same mindset is catching on in China, and as the fear of failure goes away, we may see another golden era for startups in China that outdoes the first wave from 2004-2008.

Read more at my Forbes post.

Silicon Dragon Beijing 2012 will spotlight these trends at our May 31 program featuring venture investors Hurst Lin of DCM, Neil Shen of Sequoia Capital and CEOs Joe Chen of Renren and Andy Tian of Zynga China – all examples of serial success.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Startup Asia Tips for Entrepreneurs: Kai-Fu Lee

The following is an excerpt from my Startup Asia interview with Kai-Fu Lee, founder of Innovation Works, in China. Based on his experience as former president of Google China and now head of his own incubator and venture fund in Beijing, he shares three key lessons for the next generation of Chinese entrepreneurs.

Startup Asia writer Rebecca Fannin with
Kai-Fu Lee of Innovation Works

Any advice for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs coming up in China?
My first advice is don’t think your idea will change the world, but understand the trend. That’s much more important. If you are growing in an explosively growing trend, you just have to do a good job and it will take you to the top. And if you are in a flat trend and you think are going to do something that will kill all the competitors, I think that is going against the wind and not productive. The trend is your friend.
The second trend is focus and simplify.
The entrepreneurs are all smart and they all want to do everything. They have a new idea every day, a new product, a new feature, a new market. The model to develop new companies — especially new Internet companies — is to build something simple and target a very small group of people and then experiment and grow from there. The lean startup process, for example.
The third thing is, don’t go it alone.
So many Chinese entrepreneurs want to be that big boss. That is very Chinese to want to be the big boss, and everybody is your underling. But in the road to build a startup it is so challenging and lonely and there are so many downers, you want a partner who can encourage you and work with you and help lift each other up to go through the troubles. And you also want someone whose skill set complements you, and who has implicit strong trust with you to take it to the next level. Almost all our entrepreneur proposals are a one-person show. I would encourage more two or even three people working together.
See the Startup Asia video for other out-takes from my interview with Kai-Fu Lee, who by the way, wrote the foreword to my latest book, Startup Asia. Stay tuned next for his view on serial entrepreneurs, which happens to be the theme of our Silicon Dragon Beijing 2012 event on May 31.
Read more posts at Forbes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Startup Asia tour shines on India

My tour of India's innovation hubs is generating some press. Check out the media coverage here:
Wall Street Journal @ LiveMint

In the first six days of the trip, I traveled from Mumbai to Delhi back to Mumbai and then to Bangalore! Check out some photos from the Startup Asia events here:

On February 21, I will be in Mumbai again, this time to moderate a Startup Asia panel discussion on India's rise in tech entrepreneurship. Panelists are venture investors Sandeep Singhal of Nexus Venture Partners, Shailesh Lakhani of Sequoia Capital and Hemir Doshi of IDG Ventures India. On stage, I will also interview Indian entrepreneurs Alok Kejriwal of Games2Win and Dippak Khuran of Vserve Digital Services.

Famed inventor and investor Kanwal Rekhi was on my VC Circle panel in Delhi 

Startup Asia Mumbai 2012
February 21, 2012, 8:15-11:15am
Orchid Hotel, near domestic airport
Sign up

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Days 1 & 2 of Silicon Dragon ventures in India

Day 2 in India and already what an amazing experience! Yes, I’ve been here before . . . so I have some idea of what I'm getting into

Late yesterday morning, while I was fighting jetlag, my PC crashed and all my files disappeared. As luck would have it, a call to my good contact at Tie Mumbai managed to find a willing and able IT guy to rescue me. By mid-afternoon, this well-trained Indian software engineer showed up at my hotel, and in less than one hour – I am not kidding – my computer was back, better than before. Turns out my trusty laptop had picked up a nasty virus. A download of some malware fix-it software cleared up the problem fast! Wonder why Norton didn't find it.  And we got the low memory problem solved too on my PC by dumping a bunch of http files.

The evening was time to celebrate that all was not lost. After an hour-long ride from my hotel in south Mumbai, I arrived at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai and attended the opening dinner, poolside, for NASSCOM speakers.  There, I got an earful from a who's who of high tech in India about what’s wrong and right about entrepreneurship in India.

This morning (Valentine’s Day), I checked in at Apex ‘Summit, where I got to witness legendary entrepreneur and investor Kanwal Rekhi speak candidly about his outlook for the venture ecosystem here. Afterward, Rekhi was surrounded by young entrepreneurs who hung on his every word of advice (I’m chairing a panel he’s on at VC Circle in Delhi, Feb. 15, so more on this topic later on).  

Then, today I managed to miss my flight from Mumbai to Delhi. We got stuck in a horrible traffic jam while passing through some of the worst slums I’ve seen in India.  At the airport, I would have had time to make the flight – if only I’d realized that you have to print your flight reservation and show the print-out to get a boarding pass. So much for high tech!

Jet Airways put me on the next flight -- with a change fee! -- and I passed the time on the airport Wi-Fi – which by the way, you get access to through by a code sent SMS to your Indian mobile phone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

China Venture Hangover: Bottle or Pills?

Venture capitalist Tim Chang says 2012 may bring a “return to normalcy” for deal making in China. But he’s not ready to predict yet whether deal makers will “reach for the bottle or take their medicine” now that the bubble has popped in an overheated China venture market.

“In 2010, the market was overheated, everyone was drinking the kool-aid and pumping it by the gallon. The story for every deal was ‘it doesn’t matter if your startup is profitable, just get revenue doubling every year and we will take it public, and we can worry about getting profitable later.’

But in early 2011, that story fell apart,” said Chang, speaking at a recent Startup Asia event held in tech-central Silicon Valley.

Read more at my post at Forbes:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Startup Asia Chase Is On!

Following the venture trail, the journey has led from Silicon Valley to China and then on to India and Vietnam – and next, newly emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil, which are both angling to build their own Sand Hill Road ecosystem.

Just as Silicon Valley and China had their successes in online travel, e-book retailing, gaming and social networking, the next frontier tech zones are following their example. I wrote Startup Asia to track their progress.

Everyone knows China’s breakthrough Internet companies: Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Ctrip, DangDang, Renren. But they don’t yet know their counterparts in India, which is fast on the rise. Nor do they know their look-alikes in Vietnam, Russia or Brazil.

But count on these copycat models to break through in the world’s next hotspots. Why be so sure? Because if the business model works well in one market and can be adapted locally to another culture and language, then why not?  If that new market has a switched-on digital populace, it’s almost foolproof – particularly if the same venture capital firm is behind them, which they are in most cases.

See venture capitalists (above) who spoke at our recent Startup Asia event: Kabir Misra, Kumar Shiralagi, Naren Gupta, Bill Tai, Tim Chang, Peter Wagner.

Keep reading at my column. Click:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Silicon Dragon Lady on DingDing.TV

To ring in the Year of the Dragon, I recently appeared on web TV with Diana Ding, the founder and host of DingDing.TV on her talk show Innovation Dialog. See clip from show, Silicon Dragon Lady.

Diana is a terrific interviewer and she managed to get more comments out of me than most do. (Guess folks are curious about how a girl from smalltown Ohio could end up as a journalist and book author writing about startups in Asia.) See Startup Asia and Silicon Dragon. Those in the studio audience also had an opportunity to ask so many pertinent questions that I was under the mistaken impression that they were cued up in advance.

The show was aired live on several Bay Area stations just ahead of the State of the Union address by President Obama, so I'm not sure how many folks listened in. But the beauty of the web is that viewers can tune in later on. The show will be accessible for a month afterwards its original date, January 26, 2011.