Startup Lessons Learned Scaling a Brand and Community in China
China is notoriously one of the hardest business environments for foreign companies to operate in. It is often said business is stacked against outsiders. And it is.
Yet, as a market, China holds huge potential for many growing international companies. You can’t exactly ignore one of the largest customer bases. It is a a customer segment that is growing and spending.
For many businesses, China growth is a key assumption in their overall growth plans. Inevitably for many multinational businesses, the Chinese can’t be ignored forever.
In Mainland China, we’ve been working to develop our programs over the last year. Originally under UP Global and now as Techstars, we have been navigating Chinese culture and startup situation to grow our community programs, like Startup Weekend and Startup Next. Hard fought victories come with lots of entrepreneurial lessons learned.
In this four part series, our main focus as been about how to control your brand and operations in China. If you can’t control it, you can’t grow it. And, in China, control is not easily won.
In China, control is not easily won. In the first three parts, we looked at centralizing your business’s information, ensuring your business is in the right place and controlling your finances.
In this fourth part, we will look at partnerships. Control allows you to grow, and one of the most common methods for developing your business in China is partnerships.
Partnerships are a key driver of most successful, foreign companies in China. There are a lot of good examples of this. Companies like Coursera and Uber have used partnerships to help get their businesses started and leveraged their partners’ existing distribution networks to scale and grow.
In my view, it’s very, very difficult for foreign brands to survive and thrive in China without good partners.