The Zhongguancun district of Beijing is a gold mine. Ten thousand high-tech startups, 150 incuabtors, over 1,000 research and development centers, three universities, and venture capitalist center Tsinghua Software Park all make their homes in what some describe as the Chinese “Silicon Valley.”
And techno-entrepreneurship doesn’t end there.
Young entrepreneurs from both China and elsewhere are taking advantage of the consumer bubble. Enthusiastic, assertive, and ready to make a claim, these entrepreneurs and investors are diving headfirst into the gold rush that is the People’s Republic. They are involved in everything from biomedical and green technology to retail and luxury brands. And although many ideas may be coming from the outside, Chinese investors and entrepreneurs are themselves taking a lead in their nation’s development. Entrepreneurial networking groups like Mobile Monday, Sandbox, and the Great Wall Club sponsor well-attended events that cheerlead Chinese entrepreneurship and look forward to great success.
These networking groups encourage a “we’re in this together– we can do it!” vibe that has become a characteristic of these new businessmen. Although young entrepreneurs may lack the experience and business acumen of their more established Western counterparts, their enthusiasm is unquestioned– and with time, experience and acumen will come.
Not only are entrepreneurs increasingly local, but capital for new startups is increasingly being provided by local, not foreign, investors. In fact, capital in Chinese currency for Chinese start-ups is now greater than capital in U.S. dollars—no small feat: the Chinese venture capital market exceeds $11 billion, a little less than one-third of the global startup investment market, which is about $38 billion.
Chinese are also taking leadership in imported businesses. For example, Silicon Valley startups in China increasingly require a Mandarin-speaking partner located on the mainland—Beijing or Shanghai—instead of relying on leadership via flyovers from the West Coast.
For some, the frenzy of expansion in China has echoes of the U.S. dotcom daze of the 1990s—and brings similar concerns about if, or when, this bubble will burst. Only time will tell; for now, however, Chinese entrepreneurs are mining this vein for all they’re worth.