From tech behemoths that are transforming sectors like transport and education, to fast-expanding innovators which have changed the way people shop, entrepreneurs from across all kinds of fields, and from across China and India, made their way to the ‘China Go Global and Second Chindia TMT Dialogue’ conference, held in Beijing on March 16, 2017. The event brought together teams from companies like Xiaomi, Alibaba, Instamojo, Tripoto and Blume Ventures for panel discussions on the entrepreneurial landscape in India and China.
“The aim was to have entrepreneurs from the two countries be inspired by each other’s ideas,” said Jason Wang, co-founder and CEO of ZDream Ventures, the company that spearheaded the initiative. “China is a few years ahead in the start-up ecosystem, so Indian entrepreneurs get to learn from the experience of their Chinese counterparts. And the latter are drawn to the Indian start-up space because of the potential and talent there.”
The need to tap into the similarities between China and India, and build a symbiotic relationship, was at the core of the event. Entrepreneurs stressed that the two countries need to stop looking towards the West for inspiration, when they could look at just next door.
“Coming to China for me is like time-travel. It’s like going many years into the future,” said Kunal Shah, founder of digital payments platform Freecharge. “The Indian start-up system had been looking towards Western models for a while. But the patterns of user behaviour and market conditions back home have a great deal more in common with China.” He spoke about how the two nations had a similar “trust deficit” among consumers, which brands can use to their advantage. “It’s hard to establish a brand in both countries, but once you do and people have finally begun to trust you, you can do multiple things with it,” Shah explained. “You can expand that one brand to include several services, and that is great for its growth.”
Business leaders such as Hong Wan, co-founder of Indian student micro-loan start-up KrazyBee.com, also emphasised the need to understand the specific nuances of each country’s market, despite their common ground.
Experiences were shared and the nitty-gritty of business—venture capital, logistics, reducing cost per shipment—was discussed. E-commerce was high on the agenda, as was the construction of strong digital networks. Talks by delegates like Satyen Gajwani, vice-chairman of Times Internet, elaborated on the process and challenges of creating an optimum digital platform with a widely diverse consumer base.
KrazyBee’s Hong Wan spoke about the differences in government policies between India and China and how to adapt to them. “When you are entering a market, you have to be aware of what the laws and regulations are,” he said. Understanding the land and how its people think, agreed the entrepreneurs, is crucial when getting them to make room for you.