Visiting China as a start-up? Six young companies accepted the challenge this autumn and participated in the Shanghai Start-up Class 2018 (SSUC18) which was organised by the Leipzig-based accelerator programme DC-Hub.
“We were thrilled that so many great start-ups were interested in our programme and applied to participate and the selection process was very difficult for our jury”, stated DC-Hub project leader Steve Uhlig, “being able to support such a diverse group of start-ups from all over Germany, each with their own goals and aspirations, is an important aspect of our programme.”
All participants of the SSUC18 agree that they learned a lot for themselves personally and the companies: “Matching the rapid pulse of the city of Shanghai in China, DC-Hub planned a packed schedule.”
An excellent start to the Shanghai Start-up Class 2018
After the teams landed in a very hot and humid Shanghai, moved into their offices at P2 Coworking, and gathered first impressions of the mega-city, the first day after arrival was spent visiting China’s largest start-up event, SLUSH Shanghai. Here entrepreneurs and investors meet and an international start-up community is fostered.
Other highlights of the programme included discussions with German CEOs, a meeting at the Shanghai technology park Caohejing, and pitches to potential partners and investors. This provided essential insights into Chinese (business) culture and first contacts were made, some of which developed into important cooperations over the duration of the programme.
„China is developing at a rapid pace and problems are dealt with more pragmatically than in Germany through simply testing new innovative solutions.“
Matthias Riedel, IoCare
The delegation of start-ups, supported by DC-Hub, spent four weeks working in China. They also got to know the academic environment at the renowned Tongji University, participated in workshops at the world’s largest Chinese accelerator and the Chamber of Foreign Trade, and received valuable advice from companies who have been in China for a many years.
Workshops, Events & Pitches
In collaboration with the TU Berlin and the Chinese-German College for Postgraduate Studies (CDHK), workshops where held on the topics of the Chinese legal system and e-commerce at the Tongji Campus. Another one-day workshop was conducted by the China Accelerator on investors in China.
Through the sponsored work station in Chinas largest and oldest coworking space in the city centre, as well as the extensive mentoring by Martin Gothe and the DC-Hub team, all start-ups were given the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the Shanghai start-up ecosystem.
In addition to knowledge input and workshops, events and networking were an important component of the SSUC18. Several events took place that allowed the participants to understand the Chinese market, economy, and culture as well as how to do business in China. “One or several illusions were destroyed, but just as many new ideas and new approaches were developed.” For example, the founders of diafyt learned why, despite being translated into Chinese, there were only a few downloads of their app from the Google Playstore in Hongkong. They also learned how to get in contact with local programmers and what their app needs to look like for the Chinese market.
„Speaking of WeChat – nothing works without it, but many things work a whole lot easier with it. I arranged all business meetings through WeChat, even the purchasing options were negotiated using WeChat.“
Thomas Wuttke, diafyt
One of the most important insights the start-ups gained was that networking and an extensive cultivation of contacts is essential for business success in China. “Good business relationships are almost more important than the associated contracts. DC-Hub made us very aware of this”, said IoCare founder Riedel. Peakboard founder Patrick Theobald added “Using the German straightforward approach is like biting on stone. The so-called Guanxi (relationships/connections) is seen as much more important than immediately getting to the point. Relationships on a personal level need to be built first to create trust. That was just one of many experiences that we were able to make in the first days.”
Some of the start-ups have returned to China again to continue building their business relationships.
DC-Hub stands for business and innovation hub Germany-China and is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. DC-Hub organises two Shanghai Start-up Classes per year, each enabling six selected start-ups from Germany to spend 4 weeks in China, including flights, coworking spaces, access to networks, participation in events and workshops. The next chance to participate in the programme is in April or September. For information and applications please visit: http://dc-hub.de/apply-ssuc19
Interim reports after the first week of the SSUC18
Below are interviews with the entrepreneurs after the first week in Shanghai (10.09.2018).