For 2000 years, China has been a trading centre and the largest economy in the world. Today, it has transformed itself from the 1970’s closed economy to a manufacturing and exporting hub.
Since it instituted reforms in 1978, the country has achieved economic growth averaging 10% annually, lifted almost half of its 1.3 billion populations out of poverty and become the second-largest economy in the world.
Now, it is poised to exert its influence in the start-up ecosystem.
China is no doubt an undisputed leader in Asia. Recently, it has been very successfully growing its own companies, especially start-ups.
Who has not heard of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who currently is the 23rd richest man in the world in 2017 (Forbes List) with a net worth of USD 33.2 billion?
The power of start-ups cannot be underestimated. They revolutionise the way things are done, and they are industry disruptors.
Of course, there are countless start-ups popping up everywhere around the world, but the Chinese, due to their sheer growth and being an Asian giant are to be especially watched.
Due to their unique culture too, the Chinese are very innovative in coming up with solutions that suit their needs.
From a funding point of view, currently, it has been slowing down in the Silicon Valley.
About 83% of venture funding went elsewhere in 2016 (other than the USA), and China’s influence continues to grow.
Some of the world’s most active investors, such as Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners are increasingly looking east, while the Chinese start-ups, such as Didi Chuxing and Ant Financial Services Group, the financial-services affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., closed the world’s largest private fundraising round for an Internet company at USD 4.5 billion in 2016.
So let us look at some the Chinese start-ups that are poised to do well in the near future. In no particular order, they are:
Recent Funding: USD 115 million (IPO)
Founder: Jeffrey Lyndon
iDreamsky is a fast growing mobile game enterprise and the largest independent mobile game publishing platform in China.
It localises successful overseas apps for the Chinese market and has become one of the largest mobile game publishing platforms in China with 98.3 million active users and 25.8 million daily active users.
Recent Funding: USD 50 million (Series D)
Founder: Hao Sun
Daojia is established in 2010, focusing on online food orders and delivery services targeting at China’s middle class urbanites.
It works with more than 6,000 restaurants and currently has 1 million customers and is still growing at a fast pace.
Daojia operates in eight cities in China with an over 3,000-strong logistics team and delivery staff.
It is aiming at expanding to over 30 other cities all over China this year. Currently, Yum China is in initial talks to acquire the food delivery firm.
Recent Funding: USD 10 million (Series A)
Founder: Xuguang Men
Haha Pinche is a carpooling app launched in January 2014 which matches passengers with drivers, connecting drivers and passengers wanting to share the same car for a trip. It provides ratings and allows payment as well.
It is well placed for growth as China’s traffic jams are legendary and with a growing affluent middle class who owns cars and prefers to travel by car, Haha Pinche provides a well needed solution.
Recent Funding: USD 38 million (Series C)
Founder: Tienan Wang
Aipai is a video sharing site that focuses on game recordings and allows users to use tools to capture their own footages, edit them, and add effects like music and sound.
It has over 10 million daily active users and 50 million monthly active users.
Recent Funding: USD 215 million (Series D)
Founder: Wang Xiaofeng
Mobike is a bicycle-sharing app which helps users find and rent nearby bikes—bright red in colour—at dirt-cheap prices (i.e. USD 1 or RM 4.28 per half hour of riding).
It provides a service to people who needs to get somewhere not too far in a short time, such as a subway station to the office.
It is the world’s largest bicycle operator and in December 2016 made Shanghai the world’s largest bike-share city.
Recent Funding: USD 145 million (Series A)
Founder: Jun Wang
Shenzhen-based company iCarbonX became a unicorn less than a year after being founded.
The biotech start-up wants to build a one-stop platform that crunches all kinds of data, including genetic information and blood samples, provides health-related insights and recommendations.
Recent Funding: USD 10 million (Series B)
Founder: Feng Yousheng
Inke founded in 2015 is one of the most popular live broadcasting apps.
It is mobile-first which means users can live stream through their phones instead of their computers.
The app recorded monthly active users of over 16 million in January this year.
Inke Founder, Feng Yousheng noted that the app’s live streaming hosts funnel as many as 50% of their fans to Weibo, WeChat, and other channels in order to sell products and monetise.
On e-commerce sites such as Taobao and JD, live shopping has already taken off, with conversion rates of 32%.
Inke has recently been acquired by Shunya International Brand Consulting in May 2017.