Tech entrepreneur Rosie Zhang is betting that the reopening of China’s borders with the rest of the world will accelerate the growth of her startup.
“Now we can go out and sell,” she said after three years of pitching to customers over video calls from Shanghai and teaching them how to use their retail automation technology during the pandemic. .
Mr. Zhang is one of China’s tech founders who keeps his eyes on the outside even as geopolitical tensions rise. Slowing economic growth and increasing competition is one reason they are looking outside of China.
The Chinese government’s crackdown on technology and its promotion of “shared prosperity” targeting domestic business tycoons are also undermining confidence in its own market. “Chinese entrepreneurs face intense competition and an uncertain business environment at home, so it’s no surprise that many are looking to overseas opportunities,” said Plugg, a start-up accelerator. And Play investor Huang Li said.
We are also encouraged by the success of China’s leading technology and industrial groups in the global market. E-commerce platforms Shein and Temu are flooding the US with $7 dresses and $3 backpacks sourced from mainland factories. TikTok increasingly monopolizes the time spent by 1 billion users worldwide, while electric car makers such as BYD’s sales have pushed China to the top of the global car export rankings.
Zhang’s company, Cloudpick, offers a computer vision system that can turn any small convenience store into an Amazon Go-like experience for shoppers. With 60 percent of the group’s 500 customer bases in China, Mr. Zhang is pushing a new push toward automating checkouts abroad.
“China is highly competitive, and software and hardware companies need to continuously cut costs, reduce margins and increase efficiency in order to survive. It will give us an advantage when entering,” Zhang said. “If you can survive here, you can live anywhere.”
Founders of innovation hubs such as Beijing and Shenzhen say overseas customers are more willing to pay for technology that speeds up business processes and automates functions. They are also less likely to negotiate prices.
The difficulty of selling software in China was partly behind Allen Liu’s decision to target foreign customers with his foray into Software as a Service (SaaS). The WaterWheel Network online platform will allow data centers and other companies to provide computing power to AI companies that train language models at scale.
“Customers around the world are more willing to pay for service. It’s easier,” he said. “Our old business in China is not growing rapidly, but it is stable, giving us the opportunity to expand into emerging overseas markets.”
As battle-hardened Chinese entrepreneurs increasingly look abroad in emerging fields such as AI, the pressures the rise of TikTok is putting on Facebook may soon extend to the entire tech sector. unknown.
Chan said Crowdpick could be able to price its products lower than its main competitors in the U.S. and Israel. Passive Edge founder Qian Huang said his startup has similar advantages, with prices about half that of its UK and German competitors. The group, which sells thermal batteries for heating, is targeting sales in Europe, where electricity prices are soaring, he said.
Shantou-based General Manager Wu Houfen said low prices and a localized supply chain will allow the company’s electric vehicle chargers to gain a foothold in the group’s first target markets of Southeast Asia and Oceania. said it would be possible.
“Our domestic business allows us to pay for our overseas expansion,” he said.
One of the handicaps they have to overcome amid heightened geopolitical tensions is that they are from China. Plug and Play investor Lee said friction between China and the West complicates overseas expansion for large groups, but shouldn’t be too much of a problem, especially for start-ups. “Some people worry that all Chinese companies are controlled by the government when they are not,” he said.
Large Chinese groups such as TikTok and fast-fashion house Shein have spearheaded attempts to blur their roots and pioneered the “Singapore wash” approach of moving some corporate functions to city-states. .
TikTok now bills itself as a global company with headquarters in Los Angeles and Singapore. A list of nine other global office locations on the group’s website omits any mention of China, where its team of engineers, product designers and operations personnel run many of its hit apps.
Chinese e-commerce group Pinduoduo recently removed references to China from its new app Temu, which sells cheap goods to Americans. In April, Temu’s website dropped “Pinduoduo” and “China” from its origin story and now claims that “Temu was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 2022.”
TikTok said it has thousands of employees in Singapore, including its CEO. Pinduoduo did not respond to a request for comment.
Danny Tao, head of Dongguan-based ePropulsion, said there are advantages and disadvantages to originating from China. By being at the center of China’s electric vehicle supply chain, his company has grown to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electric boat motors.
But he admitted that being Chinese also makes selling abroad more difficult. “It’s true that overseas customers have a prejudice against Chinese products, which creates a lot of challenges for us,” he said.
“We are trying to build a global brand. We do not deny our roots in China. , there is no need to emphasize our Chinese identity.”