1.China – a good place to start?


I think China is a great and easy place for foreigners to study and hustle, and it’s a great place to work and live. It’s also a great place for foreign entrepreneurs to start a startup.

Unlike what many foreigners think, China’s economy is not a bubble that will break soon. It is a powerful economy on its way to finding its normal and natural shape. China’s share of the world economy dropped dramatically from a one third of world GDP in 1820 to 5% in 1973, it is now bouncing back and there is still lots of space to grow before China is back at its natural share of the world economy! Another factor that guarantees that it will not stop is the level of education in China. Foreigners tend to think that the education system causes Chinese to be less creative. But that is not true. Just look at the race to 5G dominance. China leads, and will drive the world over the next decades. China will remain competitive!


1820 年的时候,中国占世界 GDP 总量的三分之一,但到了 1973 年,仅占 5%。不过目前来看,中国的 GDP 总量已在不断地爬升,而且在恢复到自然水平之前,仍有不少增长空间!要保持经济发展势头不变,还有一个重要因素——教育水平。有不少外国人觉得中国的教育制度会扼杀创造力,实际并非如此,5G 技术的竞争就是一个很好的证明。中国是 5G 技术的领军者,在未来的几十年也将引领世界发展。我相信中国的发展前景不可限量!

2.Who are the foreign entrepreneurs?


Foreign entrepreneurs in China are not the typical silicon valley type, but the people like foreign students in China fancying China, foreign teachers, leftover expatriates, foreign spouses of Chinese people and of foreign spouses of expatriates. They even include tourists who get inspired, and also some people who worked and lived in China but have lost their jobs and now are looking for the next move in their career. However, foreign software programmers, engineers and IT people are under-represented in China.

来华外商并不是硅谷类型的创客,而是一些向往中国的留学生、外教,侨民、外籍配偶,甚至还有一些对中国发展前景充满信心的游客,当然也会有暂时失业但不断寻求新出路的人。然而,工程师和 IT 人员占比仍然较少。

3. China’s startup ecosystem and how it works for foreigners


Startups are necessary in the new innovation world. Most companies can not afford thousands of R&D people in their organizations – so they need to crowd-source innovation. That is done by making sure that there are many startups. When they get to the level where they have mature projects they can be acquired by the big companies such as AliBaba and others. Think about the startups like fishes, and the startup ecosystem like a fish pond. The big companies and the Chinese government want to see as many fishes in the pond as possible. They nurture them. When the fish grow up they will be “caught”, which means the big corporations can acquire and pay lots of money for them. Of course some will grow into unicorns on their own – but that is another story. I call this system “put and take”. For example, Alibaba supports the whole ecosystem and encourage startups to start. In the fish pond we need as many startups as possible in order to make sure some good ones come out of it. Quantity beats quality in the beginning.

Many foreigners make a mistake in saying Chinese management is not good. They make the mistake because they don’t like the Chinese management style… but reality is that it is more efficient and secures a much lower overhead and thereby allows for better competitiveness. And it’s sustainable.

I encourage foreign companies to adopt local management style instead of trying to enforce foreign management style in China. Because that will not last and is way too expensive

要想通过创新驱动社会发展,创业必不可少。多数的公司养不起大批研发人才,只能众包,因此就需要大批的初创企业。待到这些初创企业发展成熟,就会被诸如阿里巴巴的大公司重金收购。打个比方, 初创企业就是一条条鱼,整个创业的大环境就是鱼塘。中国政府和大公司都希望鱼塘里的鱼越多越好,把鱼养大了之后,就能 “捕获” 了。当然也有一些实力较强的会成长为独角兽企业,这个另当别论。总体来看,这整个过程可以被称作” 有进必有出”。比如,阿里巴巴为了遴选出足够优秀的企业,就投入大量的企业经济用于促进新兴企业的起步和壮大。在前期,初创企业的数量比质量更重要。

4. SME or startup? Bootstrap or raise capital?


The effects of the two forms vary from person to person. A startup is a company basically that takes in capital before they have revenue, burning more cash from investment capital. We can also say it’s an experiment. An SME, Small and medium enterprise, is a different story. Lots of successful foreign SMEs are founded by knowledgeable entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs know their trade and industry and might have customers, technology or relations in the market before they start up their company, so they hit the ground running. They bootstrapped, which means they use their own money to get started. This way they learn to become profitable the hard way. But that is also the best way. Startups that live on investment money only, and just raise more capital when they need more – they are not forced to think commercially.

两种形式的效果因人而异。在获得收益之前,初创企业先进行资本投资,从投资资本中消耗更多现金, 可以说是试验。但创立中小企业是另一回事,那些成功的创始人在决定创业之初就已经对自己的行业了如指掌,也做足了吸引客源、打造核心技术、积累市场资源的准备。因为是白手起家,他们也会在这个过程中体会到要想实现盈利非常艰难。但这其实也是最好的方法。那些仅仅靠集资赚钱的初创企业,往往在需要的时候才设法筹钱——这样并不能激发商业思考。

5. Who succeed in China and who don’t – Why?


We have helped more than 300 foreign enterprises getting started in China. In my personal experience, most foreigners believes China is like an early version of a Western market, and that it will eventually develop to become like a Western market. But that is wrong. I say, that “China is open for business but it is hard to get in”.

What’s the reason? In fact it is not because the Chinese people are not welcoming us, or hiding anything. They are honest and kind. But it is because of cultural differences. Foreigners tend to see China through their own Western filter. Although it’s hard to adjust to Chinese mode, there are some foreigners who had success in China. For example, the founder of BAKER&SPICE, Wagas. John Christensen. He started up with foreigners in China as his niche, and then adjusted to the Chinese market. A success which most of us can only dream of. Another case is BESTSELLER, a famous women’s clothing brand. It has several best-selling brands, VERO MODA, JACK JONES, SELECTED, ONLY. They started up with one shop experimenting as testing tool and then expanded the scale. They proved that it is possible.
We often see that foreign entrepreneurs partner with overseas Chinese entrepreneurs. They meet in foreign universities where they study together – and then come to China together and succeed here.

我们已帮助 300 多家外企进入中国市场

个人经验告诉我,大多数外国人认为中国市场的现状就像西方市场的早期雏形,并且最终会发展成西方市场现在的样子。其实不是,我更认同 “中国对商业开放,但很难进入” 的说法。


例如西点 BAKER&SPICE、沃歌斯的创始人 John Christensen,首先把目标顾客定位为在华生活的外国人,再试着不断调整以适应中国人的市场,最终取得了巨大成功。另一个例子是知名的女装品牌 BESTSELLER,旗下拥有好几个畅销品牌如 VERO MODA,JACK JONES,SELECTED,ONLY。他们先选择了一间门店做实验,成功后再推广开来,最后证明这种方法也是可行的。


6. Improving the foreign entrepreneur’s odds of success in China


We are now past “globalization” as it used to be. Globalization 1.0 was to copy overseas factories in China and other low cost countries to take advantage of cheaper raw materials and labor; Now we are at Globalization 2.0. It involves innovation overseas. It embraces technologies such as AI, 5G and 3D printing.

我们已经摆脱了过去的 “全球化”
全球化 1.0 是指跨国公司为了更廉价的原材料和劳动力,在中国以及其他低收入国家不断建立海外工厂。现在是全球化 2.0 的时代,它涉及海外创新和各种新兴科技,包括人工智能、5G 技术、3D 打印技术。


1. What do you think of the cross culture couple?

I think it’s an interesting topic. There’re so many things residing inside people because of their cultural background. In China, there are lots of things that has to do with family. For foreigners it has to do with freedom. Chinese tend to want to build something safe. Chinese jokingly call their sons and daughters “建设银行, 招商银行 ”When foreigners come to China, they generally have no car and house. In the eyes of the Chinese – and especially their parents – that is unsafe. They don’t qualify. But often love prevails.

这个问题很有意思。出于文化背景的不同,人们都形成了特定的思维方式。中国人有家族情怀,而外国人追求个性。中国人倾向于建立安全感,把儿子和女儿戏称为 “建设银行” 和 “招商银行”。当外国配偶来中国时,他们一般没有车和房子。这在中国人(尤其是老一辈人)看来,就不够 “安全”,因此也不大认可洋媳妇洋女婿,不过最终都会为亲情让步。

2. Could you talk about how best to use digital tools so as to develop your e-reputation


There are many tools. For business proposes, LinkedIn seems to be the place right now. You can learn a lot of things there. It’s a way to go. Then, I think the world of freelancing is amazing. I have 20 freelancers who help me in different fields. There is freelancer.com and fiverr.com. You can get all kinds of things done there. Fantastic! The third one is crowd-funding sites. It’s the way of funding. Kaishiba.com is one. Alibaba has one. There are many. At the crowd-funding sites you can sell products before you produce them. It’s a gift for the startup community.

有很多的工具。首先在提供业务建议方面,领英应该是一个很好的平台,能在上面学到很多东西。另外自由职业其实也很不错!目前有 20 位是自由职业者为我提供不同领域的业务协助。可以搜索 freelancer.com 或者 fiverr.com 网址,能在上面找到很多有用的信息。最后,可以通过众筹网站集资。比如 Kaishiba.com,阿里巴巴也有,类似的网站还有很多,而且大多允许在产品生产出来之前就进行预售,简直就是初创者的宝藏。

3.What are Peter’s thoughts about the pro and con about Gov intervention in Business sectors?


I think the government don’t really understand what startup is. They think about it is a company. They will sometimes ask questions like “what’s your registered capital?” “How many people do you employ?” There exists many restrictions. For example, if a foreigner gets a salary less than 20000 per month in their company, they don’t qualify for work permit and can’t work in China. Startups can’t pay money like that in the beginning, so that is ridiculous! But things are changing quickly. China want foreigners to succeed. There is now something called an entrepreneur visa that solves the problem. Laws and regulations change for the better(这里跟前面重复了所以删掉)China is a pro-business world. Also, Chinese government support education institutions to help the startup world. I think China is fantastic! There are more startups coming out of China and more funding of startups taking place in China than the silicon valley in the USA.

我觉得政府可能并没有真正了解初创企业,认为它们只是个公司,会问出 “你的注册资本有多少?”“你雇了多少人?” 这样的问题。存在很多限制。比如说,如果某个企业的外籍员工每月工资低于 2 万,就不能获得工作许可,不能在中国工作,听起来很荒谬!不过形势也在不断往好的方向发展了。一方面,中国为鼓励支持外商来华做生意,推出了企业家签证,就很好地解决了工作许可的问题。另一方面,法律法规也在不断地完善。而且中国比较重商,政府也支持教育机构为初创圈提供援助,这些举措都非常好!与美国硅谷相比,中国提供更多的创业资金,也不断涌现出更多的初创企业。

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NCSF Guangzhou would like to thank our speaker, members, partners and audience that made the event possible, and looking forward to future cooperation.

NCSF 广州团队感谢为促成此次分享活动而努力的演讲嘉宾、成员、合作方和观众们。期待未来的进一步合作。