On China

It was announced this week that TechCrunch’s Disrupt Cup winner in Beijing, OrderWithMe, raised a $3 million A round shortly after the conference ended in November. TriplePointers Molly and Ashley had the privilege to see this young startup present in the Disrupt Battlefield in China and to meet CEO Jonathan Jenkins (see picture below).

OrderWithMe is just one example of a huge shift of American entrepreneurs starting businesses in China and larger American corporations expanding their business into the East. The hot topic of discussion onstage at TechCrunch’s first international Disrupt Conference was the difference between doing business in China and the United States. Using Groupon’s recent struggle moving into the Chinese market as a running example, Sarah Lacy and other TechCrunch reporters dug to the bottom of why it’s so difficult for American companies to expand in a country with so much opportunity. Groupon may have rushed the process; they failed to carefully analyze the market and customize the interface accordingly. Other US companies fail because of the false perception that running a business in China works just like the U.S. – but modern examples show it is vastly different.

Sarah Lacy invited some of the most successful people in technology to Disrupt. Here are some pieces of wisdom that were shared:
*Pony Ma, founder of Tencent, said large companies can only be successful if they maintain a small company mindset of humility and persistence. Successful companies must pay attention to the demand of users and be responsible for meeting those demands.
*The Android Fever seminar with John Lagerling (Google), David Cao (DCM), and Wang Hua (Innovation Works) pointed out that Apple products are very expensive and have a closed environment, which make it harder for them to thrive in China. China’s markets are usually more open so they favor the open source format of the Android platform.
*Sarah Lacy noticed that China may be accused of “copycat” businesses, but China also sees more business model innovation than in the West.
*Chinese VCs invited to speak at the conference harped on the fact that they look for different types of entrepreneurs and startups than American VCs. Chinese entrepreneurs must be both extremely competitive but also flexible in such a volatile market.

In short, there is still a lot for Eastern and Western cultures to learn about the other. Conferences like Disrupt that bring Chinese and American business people together are crucial and increasingly necessary. China’s participation in the global competition is in no way slowing down, so let’s continue the conversation!

To view videos from TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing, please visit http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/04/top-videos-from-techcrunch-disrupt-beijing-tctv/.

Molly and Ashley with Jonathan Jenkins after OrderWithMe won the Disrupt Cup