Startupswatch-en

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A monthly report about the brightest and newest startups in Chinese Internet and wireless sectors.

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Startupswatch-en

  1. 1. July, 2010, Volume 1 STARTUPS WATCH Focus Explore Review We highlight the brightest We recommend new products, We review and discuss the and newest startups in services, companies and explore the viewpoints covered at the NTalks, Chinese Internet and trend in Chinese market. a popular event organized by wireless sectors. MOBINODE monthly. Preface: Gunning for the market, and recognising the power and value of innovation. Over the past four years, the prominent bilingual tech blog MOBINODE has strived to provide insightful, detailed coverage of the Chinese IT sphere and its newest stars. With the introduction of MOBINODE.tv in 2009 and the NTALKS forums this year, we're by no means just a blog, but we do cooperate with other blogs and grassroots movements to bring together innovative, passionate, hardworking individuals for various causes and colloquia. Our colleagues and friends are people who truly love the internet, and who are willing to share and contribute. Therefore, we work hard to bring them out and together to record their opinions, views, and innovations in the name of progress. With this report we hope to: 1) highlight the best content and opinions from non-mainstream independent bloggers. 2) provide overviews and commentaries on the views of innovators, and 3) give thoughts on both hot and new topics in Chinese web industry. We hope to bring innovators, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to the forefront to spark both conversation With this newsletter we hope and original thinking. to: 1) highlight the best content In this issue, we'll be summarising the situation of the Groupon-like-services and Foursquare- and opinions from non- like-services sectors in the Chinese market, as well as the penetration of the iPhone and m a i n s t re a m i n d e p e n d e n t Android-based devices into China. bloggers. 2) provide overviews In our recommendations section, we'll be touching upon 9 different companies that have come and commentaries on the views online within the past month in China, or sites or services in China that have recently come to of innovators, and 3) give the forefront. In the recaps section, we'll be talking about the internationalisation of the thoughts on both hot and new development process. topics in Chinese web industry. This month's Startups Watch is edited by MOBINODE's Lu Gang, Cindy Jiang, and We hope to bring innovators, WEB20SHARE’s Watson Xu This is a monthly bilingual report. Thanks much to our entrepreneurs and venture translator Moy Hau. We hope everyone is satisfied with the issue, and we look forward to capitalists to the forefront to hearing your feedback. spark both conversation and original thinking. Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com
  2. 2. July, 2010, Volume 1 FOCU S - Five Perspective to Know Groupon Like Service in China Certainly, there are many Groupon-likers in China. Those imitators copied all the virtue of Groupon, and some of them even involves its interface and model. Resource said there were already over 100 of them, but be frank, even the number is 200+, I would not be surprised. This market is already overheated and going much crazy than people expected. Some of them already raised a large bucket of money, and several deals I heard are around $5 millions; RenRen, the leading Chinese social network also launched its own group purchase site called Nuomi, and it only took hours, amazingly 152,095 users bought the offer (costs around $5.8 for 2 movie tickets, 2 coke, 1 box of popcorn and 1 Häagen-Dazs icecream. 1. Group Purchase, New and Old business model Twitter hits $1 billion valuation within 3 years. Facebook reached equal valuation with 2 years. Groupon, however, broke the record, it only takes a year and a half. On April We would strongly suggest you Rethink if you believe Groupon 19th of this year, a consortium, led by DST (a Russian model is 100% new for China too. In fact, Group Purchase (in investment company), invested $135 million on Groupon, making the valuation of Groupon shoot up to $1.35 Chinese it’s called Tuan Gou) is hugely popular in China billion. As New York Times said, Groupon was the especially in Home improvement/Home decoration market craziest the Internet company in history. where thousands of people got connected online and buy the same products together in street shops in order to get a good The business model in Groupon is that it only sales one bulk-discount. It is an ‘old’ model, but also ‘new’ to Chinese product or service per day, and via daily updating and consumers as Groupon represents a new format of ONLINE bulk-discount price, Groupon is able to attract mass group purchase with the interesting ‘deal of the day’ strategy. No purchasers and then, collect 50% of the transaction commission in return. Groupon creates a new Internet one ever made the online group purchase experience so easy in business model consists of e-commerce, social marketing China. and online ads. 2. An easier model for Groupon-likers to survive? Groupon is very easy to copy. But, the interesting point we have to see is that unlike video-sharing, social networks, twitter models which are all about user-base (at burning money) at the beginning, Groupon is making cash-flow since the first day. And Groupon model focus on one deal in one city, and the fact in China is that it’s not difficult to find a deal (from restaurant, spa etc) and the Internet in China is very geographic. In other words, it should be relatively easier for those startups to survive. However, if you have many targeting at the same market, then it’s all about how to do the marketing in the end. Can you offer better share with those merchants? Do you have enough money to reach more industry sectors and grow faster? Surviving is one thing, at some point, you may also need huge money to burn. (Why did Groupon raise such amount of $$$ even when it’s already hot!!) 3. Better Service or Better Price? I’ve read some feedback from some Chinese Groupon users. They’ve started complaining on the service they got. ‘Cheap price does not mean we also accept Cheap service’, they said. Groupons can offer you good price, but they can not guarantee whether or not the merchants are able to offer mass customers the service with the good quality. When your users come to you only for cheaper price, be careful, because that might also imply the customer loyalty is low. Especially in China, your customer can quickly move to another one with cheaper price or a big one with better service guaranteed. 4. Happy or Sad story in the end? Startups vs. Big guys This is typically Chinese-style sad story. When those giants see the interesting new business models, instead of partnering with you or acquiring yours, they prefer to launching something on its own. Renren’s Nuomi has shown its super power with huge user base. Taobao, has launched its Groupon service on ju.taobao.com, and Dianpin (the leading Yelp-like service) has also launched its Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com
  3. 3. July, 2010, Volume 1 FOCU S - Foursquare Like Service in China Foursquare’s success comes from a few * Popular LBS service important aspects, more or less: it brings * Waze offline services and locations into its * http://world.waze.com/ framework, and provides good offline service. Second, It is easy to use and fun. * BooYah Third, in addition to Twitter and * http://www.booyah.com/ Facebook, it has some good third party * FoodSpotting applications, such as PleaseRobMe, an autotracker based on Foursquare Data and * http://www.foodspotting.com/ Fourwhere, an app that tacks your * Whrrl Foursquare data onto Google Maps. * http://whrrl.com/ * Flook Similar services in China are going to * http://flook.it/ need to think not just about what * Yelp Foursquare has done right, but also about how the services need to be changed to * http://www.yelp.com/ adapt to the Chinese market. The first is * Rummble the lower penetration of smartphones, * http://www.rummble.com/ especially ones with GPS, and another is how to acquire good POI data – good * Aka-Aki Foursquare made big waves when it relationships with offline parties * http://www.aka-aki.com/ blew up onto the location-based * services scene like a firestone tire in We might also see two other major players Popular LBS Application in China 2009. Both Foursquare and Gowalla attracted interest from serious come into this game in China: China * Play 4F investors, with rumour being that mobile, and Dianping. * http://play4f.cn/ Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook all * Jiepang having interest in acquiring the company. The venture got a lot of * http://jiepang.com/ people thinking about the area, and * Kaikai people are estimating that the sector * http://k.ai/ will grow to 12.7 billion USD in income by 2014. Talk like this is * Mogu Tuan getting people in China interested, * http://m.133.cn/ too, and now we’re seeing some * DuoLeQu similar services here. * http://m.duolequ.cn/ * 17you8 * http://17you8.com t.dianping.com. They have not started heavy promotion yet, but they are watching the market until they are fully ready and the market is more mature. So why Chinese VCs still rush for those startups? How do they expect these sites to exit one day? A few very lucky ones could take the lead in the end with enough money to burn, or one of them could be acquired by Groupon if it comes to China one day? Well, I don’t know. 5. Innovation or just Interesting? The Groupons’ Aggregator Given the fact that there are so many Groupon service in China and I am assuming there are more to come. So the question becomes, where to efficiently find those deals on each service. The answer is obvious, we need a search engine. Now we see the sites such as tg123.com, niutuan.com, 122.net etc the Groupon services aggregator/navigation site. I don’t know what kind of partnership involved with those groupon services aggregated, but it’s smart, isn’t? At least, it perfectly fits for Chinese! Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com
  4. 4. July, 2010, Volume 1 EX PL O R E - Surveys of Android Users in Local Market such as dropbox, sugarsyc, and calendars. As far as stores go in Chin, the hiapk.com is relatively popular, a success linked with the Multimedia and personalisation are very successful promotions by the Android numbers four and five, and nothing new in network in China. When you buy a the mobile market. Gphone, it comes with the Hiapk Marketplace preinstalled. Most of the There are two methods by which users in Android devices in China are knockoffs, China can attain apps for their Android such as the especially hot-selling HTC G3 devices – buing them directly from a and G2 that come with modified roms – marketplace such as Google Market or the optimised or converted into the Chinese Android market, or by downloading them language, modified by Android fans who from various websites or forums as .apk files keep the Android Market on top. and installing them on their own – the latter method seems to be favoured, with 63% of As far as feelings towards price go, most Chinese users picking it as their primary domestic users see apps as belonging in the . method of attaining apps. Thus, the 5 to 2 Yuan category – cheap commodities. recommendations and reviews of friends This, when combined with the 57% of apps and other fans on forums play a big role in that are free goes to show that the concept acquisition. of cheap is intrinsically linked to the app landscape in China. It wouldn't be easy to import other price concepts to the market. Surveys of Android users in China have shown that the most common application The original data from: categories in use domestically are: games, www.gfan.com SNS, multimedia, everyday tools, and personalisations (such ask skins). The demand for games is of course still very strong, but the number of games produced for the platform remains relatively small with most being ports, especially from the iPhone platform. Issues with the ROM as well as difficulties arising from different resolutions on varying devices have resulted in developers being slow to go for the platform. With the newer 2.2 ROM and 800x480 resolution, compounded with the addition of flash, we should see better and better games. It's safe to say that the iPhone is a product of the internet, and with the strong Google push for the "cloud" concept, the Gphone is becoming a true personal internet centre – seamless syncing with google contacts, google calendar, gmail, and gtalk will help people to stay connected, and SNS may find itself handily pushed back to number two. Android users plug into twitter through seismic, twidriod, and twigee, and Chinese users have microblog services available from Tencent and Sina, as well as services like Foursquare. Everyday tools are the category that ordinary users pay the most attention to as the demand for them is more rigid. Good applications help us get through our work and day-to-day lives more efficiently, streamlining our workflows and adding to quality of life. We're talking about classics Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com
  5. 5. July, 2010, Volume 1 EX PL O R E - Survival of iPhone Development Teams in China Statistics from an iPhone developer in after gaining approval from Apple itself, yet O r i g i n a l D at a f ro m A Re p o r t o n China show that of the 200,000 apps piracy provides a much more efficient and 21CBH.com available in the app store, more than usable channel to Chinese users. 110,000 are produced by any one of 27,097 h t t p : / / w w w. 2 1 c b h . c o m / H T M L / Chinese developers of development teams. If a developer doesn’t gain quick 2010-6-8/4NMDAwMDE4MTE4Ng.html recognition for its apps, it will fall in the Going it in China rankings in the App Store and become invisible. Things don’t look good for developers in China. Many developers and The developers in China can be divided in companies in China only make a few US to three categories: larger companies such as dollars a day and have essentially no income 139.me and ibokanwisdom.com that got from the app store. It does not appear as if started early, major internet players such as they will pan out. Tencent and Sina that jumped on the bandwagon later, and small and medium size development teams. There are big differences between the groups and their current states. 139.me, started in July 2008, was the earliest App developer in China. The company makes apps in basically two ways – developing and then marketing directly, and outsourcing. It helps other companies promote their apps that they have built for the platform. Now the team are doing fine. They cover costs and live well. Other players, such as Tencent, aren’t in the game to make money, but rather to have a visible position in the market. Things are most difficult for the small players. “Some of these little companies will put up an app they've made on Apple's platform only to come away with less than $10 USD”, said a developer who declined to be named. The smaller players lack a strong grasp of user needs and marketing The Way for Chinese developers strategies, and most of them right now have nothing. Reports have found that of the tens Chinese developers need to change their of thousands of domestic iPhone developers strategy from traditional models to value- in China, between 70 and 80 percent are added services. The app store doesn't currently faltering. protect against plagiarism, and a maker of a popular app could find their product copied Problems with the domestic app – as a result, people are moving more market towards free apps, which Chinese developers need to prepare themselves for There are a number of reasons for the by developing some free apps now that will difficulties developers are experiencing. For generate value-added income later. instance, Apple has already developed good payment systems for overseas customers, Additionally, developers need to think big. and the prices for the Apps are reasonable. The apps don’t necessarily have to be However, Chinese consumers are not used consumer-targeted. China has huge to paying for software, and with a limited ventures in import-export, medicine, number of iPhones in Chinese clients, most education, and other industries – all which of the apps are limited to sale abroad. could be purchasers of these applications – H oweve r, C h i n e s e d eve l o p e r s l a c k an app that gave realtime bloodwork results, understanding of international market or a way to bring textbooks to students, or principles, and Chinese markets suffer from logistics software – all these things are immense piracy problems. The App Store possibilities. and iPhone are both incredibly closed platforms, with apps only being saleable Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com
  6. 6. July, 2010, Volume 1 EX PL O R E - Startups Show Jamguo is T.SDO is an SNS-like site that provides a n i n d e p e n d e n t l y - d eve l o p e d mu s i c tight integration with a microblogging-like marketplace that makes use of the new service. The site is divided into two main MBC 2.0 cooperative model to allow music GoodTeamStudio began developing games parts – the left-hand side, services, which makers and promoters to earn money for the Android platform in October 2008, include ShanDa's flagship games, literature, together. and has become one of China’s hottest video, and other entertainment sources – One of a number of new music networks, Android game developers in the time since. and the right-hand side, which is a the site allows users to preview songs and The team has done great on Google’s microblogging site in through which users download high-quality recordings, as well as Android Market, and has been ranked in can communicate while engaged in any of provides other services. Among them, the among the top 20 developers worldwide for the other activities on the site. site uses special protection mechanisms the past 7 months in a row. Their RDC: The site supports feeds, friend-making combine with noise-injection methods to Black jack app has been downloaded more capabilities, and message threads. For prevent stream capturing of samples and than 250,000 times. They currently have 14 instance, you could be playing a game with thus protecting artists rights and interests. games for Android, 3 for iPhone, and 10 for your friends your status through your feed, Additionally, through the MBC2.0 model, OMS. and you could publish the game's results to promoters, partners, and distributors are all (www.goodteamstudio.com) your feed afterward. t.sdo.com) able to cooperate with artists and share profit.(www.jamguo.com) Wandoujia is a Windows-based Android phone administration tool, which allows users to send SMS, administer contacts and Youfeeling is a Uqude.com is a services platform with SNS programs, and load music and videos onto Web 2.0 dating service. Users first register at functions at its core, which allows groups to phones as well as take screenshots from the the Youfeeling site and fill out their personal share internet content in a relaxed phone. It's said to be a product of details, and then write a letter to someone environment, and provides refined Innovation Works. www.wandoujia.com) they have feelings for. If it turns out their interactive information to stimulate users’ object of affection has listed them in turn, thoughts. then the site will notify the two people for Uqude has abandoned the static-content the concordance of feelings. If the love paradigm for a more complex framework turns out to be one-sided, the site will keep that includes testing, voting, quizzes, and your secret for you in perpetuity. Users are evaluations to provide better service to also able to administer the list of their users, resulting in better content provided to interests, adding and deleting people at will. everyone.(www.uqude.com) 51qiangzuo.com is an online event and www.youfeeling.com) conference planning tool which allows people to create and RSVP to events, as well as promote and sell tickets, streamlining and simplifying the whole process. Users are able to create registration forms through a simple process resembling Google Forms, and easily administer attendee information G e e k Pa rk i s a t e c h a n d bu s i n e s s as well as issue notifications to attendees and Juandou.com is a network that provides e- information-focused SNS which includes share information through easy integration commerce solutions to site owners, with microblogging, gossip, and realtime sharing with Douban, Sina, Renren, and Kaixin to LinkMiner being its first product. It can capabilities. Its model is similar to a inform others about and promote their convert product pages (such as Taobao combination of Slashdot and twitter – events. The ticketing functionality is product links and seach results) into editors pick the hottest topics for powerful and allows for the compilation of commission-yielding partner links for site highlighting on main areas of the site. accurate statistics. owners without influencing the end-user (www.geekpark.net) Many events abroad are scheduled through experience. It’s supposed to be able to Evenbrite – although 51qiangzuo.com convert about 55% of links. differs slightly, we feel that it’s much more (www.juandou.com) suited to the Chinese market. (www.51qiangzuo.com) In this section, we focus on the local startups we explored lately. If you are interested in getting them in touch, please feel free drop us an email on mobinodetv@gmail.com Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com
  7. 7. July, 2010, Volume 1 RE V IEW - Survival in a Global Context for Chinese Application Development Teams NTALKS The topic for the third round of NTALKS was “Survival in a Global Context for Chinese Application Development Teams”. Speaker invitees comprised a NTALKS is an offline event organized number of outstanding developers for the iPhone, Facebook, and other mobile by MOBINODE on a regular basis to platforms, including AppLeap, IsMole Inc., iBokan Wisdom, 139.me, PeoPeo, tighten the connection among local start- and Mocaworld. With them we explored the differences between the Chinese ups. NTALKS is a and foreign markets, as well as the special considerations that need to be taken platform and for surviving on the international market – the developers that app developers face, and the directions to be taken for future products. People shared their community for experiences in developing for the Apple App Store, Facebook, Mixi, and other grassroots and platforms, and discussed methodologies and hopes for survival on the global startups to playing field. demonstrate their works, share their Major topics included: experience and 1 A comparison of China with communicate with the potential partners other markets. Foreign markets are and investors. relatively better developed, and are nicer to their developers – a better way for small to mid-size Chinese developers to start. 2 Competition abroad: on both Facebook and the iPhone App Store, competition is especially fierce. It's hard for developers to really make it big. Things are the same in the Japanese market, with the playing field dominated by bigger fish. 3 Taking advantage of new market opportunities: apart from social networks, there are also a number of mobile application for enterprise market that provide opportunities. Special Thanks to OrangLabs Beijing, BlueRun China and TrilogyVC 4 Five things to consider for Chinese development teams going into the international market. 1; The Market: The App Store has already opened the market up. 2; Planning: The biggest factors are societal and cultural. For instance, the rules of the Chinese and the foreign farming games differ dramatically. 3; Development. 4; Promotion, Sales, Customer Service, SNS, etc. 5; Competition with Foreign Enterprise; Foreign developers may be able to understand or meet customer demands better. 5 Android Development: speakers mostly agreed that Android provides excellent opportunities for Chinese developers and deserves our attention. 6 Future trends for app development: Games are becoming intrinsically linked with SNS development, and SNS game development and Mobile game development seems to be merging. Small to medium-size enterprise needs to grasp user needs and demands better to be able to survive. More info from www.mobinode.tv More viewpoints about the topic(in Chinese) www.ifanr.com/14218 Produced by MOBINODE• contact info: mobinodetv@gmail.com

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