venture leaders China – Couldn’t Be Better as the First Edition

Inspired by 13 years of success with the venture leaders USA program, venturelab decided to expand its offer and give new market opportunities to the most innovative Swiss startups. For Swiss startups, China is a key market to explore. With growing opportunities and exciting market prospects, as well as the necessity to strengthen the visibility of Swiss high tech in China, swissnex was thrilled to collaborate for this first edition of the venture leaders China.

The ten-day program brought the Swiss national startup team to Beijing and Shanghai with a variety of activities including coaching, networking, pitching, business development etc. For most of them, it was their first time to travel to China. To help boost Swiss enterpreneurs’ understanding and penetration of Chinese market, sixteen experts were invited to deliver lectures ranging from the perspectives of legal, entrepreneurship, fund-raising, company incorporation, culture, macro-economy, market opportunities. The inevitable topic of IP is no longer an excuse for ignoring the china market. especially at a time when China’s economic growth shift to an innovation-driven model. While remaining a challenging and complex environment, China offers market opportunities, world class expertise in production and supply chain as well as a competitive talent pool. The interactions with experts also demonstrate it’s never too early for these Swiss high-flyers to show the right attitude and be ready to face the fast-learning competitors and quick changing market. Maintaining originality while realizing localization and adaptation is another recipe for business success shared by experts who are Chinese and expats having been living for many years in China. In Shanghai, the ten start-ups were divided by industries into ICT, green-tech and consumer goods. They had a chance to interact with ten coaches from corresponding sectors and benefited a lot from the feedback.

As part of the program, the venture leaders were required to face local entrepreneurs in pitching competitions in Beijing and Shanghai. The Global Pitchfest on September 10th attracted around 200 participants and 18 local start-ups.  The title of best pitch goes to PlusMAT from Switzerland and Minibanker in Shanghai, selected by both audience (via SMS) and five judges.

In summary, all start-ups found the program productive and concluded that the China market deserves deep exploration, while also noticing how fragmented, elusive and huge it is. The biggest challenge is to dig out the reliable and mutual beneficial partners in China.  Apart from Beijing and Shanghai, Shenzhen is another destination for future Venture Leaders who will benefit from the most comprehensive and complete hardware supply chain in the world.  We’re looking forward to more start-up entrepreneurs with risk tolerance, quick-learning capability and open-minded vision, come to learn and leverage how to make the best of this fast growing region in 2015.