The Startup Scene of Asia: RISE Conference 2017

For a long time, China was famous for fake products and counterfeit goods. But right now the situation is changing gradually. Though cheap products still occupy the market, cutting-edge hi-tech consumer goods and services are emerging as well.

Startups, new technology, digital marketing and new business models are hot topics in the headlines. Tech conference springs up in many major cities. In July, we went to RISE 2017 held in Hong Kong, where we witnessed an exciting gathering and networking of the world’s most viral investing subjects, the most updated inventions, ideas, the most promising startups and the whole technology ecosystem behind.

During the three-day summit, on-going forums, debates, speeches, Q&A, pitch and workshops lined up in the topics of AI, robotics, automation, big data, fintech, venture, VR and AR.

Leaders and entrepreneurs from Facebook, Alibaba, WeChat, Didi, Google, Stripe, Amazon and investors from US and Mainland China were invited to deliver their unique opinions and experiences about the new industry.

One specific topic the conference has raised is a poll that whether China is overtaking Silicon Valley.

Almost 600 game-changing startups from all over the globe in different developing stages showed up in the event as exhibitors to make connections. They strive to create solutions to figure out real-life problems that would not have been possible to even think about 10 years ago.

Anna Fang from ZengFund in Q+A in Rise

In RISE, you can see growing opportunities for immature or experienced entrepreneurs and innovators to tap into the market with the boldest and most pioneering ideas.

Incubators, angel investors and venture capitals are always looking for outstanding new market players and ready to provide funds in their early stages.

Starting from an app is what most startups we observed in the RISE did. Unlike 5 or 10 years ago, creating a business was more complicated with less available resources. Businesses back then were more concrete and down-to-earth projects requiring to build factories and hire employees. Instead of showing physical products, most of the vendors in RISE displayed their products and ideas with a phone or tablet.

Will China Take Over Silicon Valley?

One specific topic the conference has raised is a poll that whether China is overtaking Silicon Valley. In a speech delivered by Crunchbase’s CEO Jager McConnell, he pointed out that Asia has surpassed Silicon Valley in funding and each year the number of unicorns (billion dollar valuation companies) funded in Asia exceeds the figure in US.

This information was not surprised at all as we saw in the meeting that many Silicon Valley companies, led by Amazon, LinkedIn, Apple, Microsoft, were eager to enter the vast Chinese market, whose spending power is rapidly increasing both in and out of the country.

American venture capitals such as GGV and Google Ventures showed a keen interest in funding Chinese uprising startups. US talents also seize the chance to explore in China. Take WeChat’s Director of User Growth and Engagement Stephen Wang for example, he founded several successful tech companies in Silicon Valley, such as, before heading to join in Tencent.

A pitch section in RISE

If you live in China for a while you will notice that startups and incubators here are thriving due to active funding by the government and venture capital.

In Dongguan, the world’s manufacturing city, over 1,500 startups are nurtured in the city’s 64 incubators and the government is planned to have 100 incubators by 2020. Real estate developers, research institutes and industrial leaders invested in hatching the most profitable eggs aggressively.

It’s very important for a conference like RISE to serve as a bridge to close the gap between China and the world in the new technology sector. Especially after China has launched the “China Manufacturing 2025” plan in order to catch up with Germany’s Industrial 4.0, a bold initiative after the “One Belt One Road”.

Without a doubt, China is catching up with the world, or in leading position in certain areas such as mobile payment thanks to Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Tech events like RISE is happening more and more in China. In June, world-renowned online publisher of technology industry news, TechCrunch, organized a TechCrunch China in Shenzhen, after several successful events in China since 2013, inviting tech luminaries from China and around the world to discuss the latest news in the industry. New launches, products, breakthroughs, Sino-Western cooperation and joint ventures appear every day. China has become one of the fastest-growing markets in the technology industry.

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