If you read the lists of the startups incubated by TiSiWi, you may question if any of them can be big one day. I love most of the ideas. They are good, but it’s also true that the technology barrier is low and there are a few applications or service already in the market. It could be so hard for some of them to survive.
I was on stage and talked to Kevin, the founder of Instagram at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing. What most impressed me is that they can now manage 12 millions users with only 6 staff. Even now, Japan has become it’s 2nd largest market. It’s a small application, but now becomes big! In silicon valley, if your product is good and distinguishing, you can open up your platform and it’s a fair market where you may win the respect. You may find plenty of examples like Twitter, Foursquare and even Facebook etc.
People ask me if I see any small startup can have the chance to be big, my answer is the possibility is so low.
- Being a platform is just a dream. If you are relatively small and have a bunch of users. To expand quickly, you may think of being a platform, i.e. announcing your API to expect more third-parties can join you to drive the market together. That’s what Instagram, Foursquare and Twitter did. But here, it’s so hard. Why should people follow you and your standard? Even you are big like Tencent, don’t forget Baidu, Alibaba, Sina etc are there and they would not be ‘regulated’ by your game rule. That is why, there are many so call Open Platforms but none of them can be the dominant.
- Cooking a good startup takes time, meaning not to question much about the revenue model etc. But Chinese market is lacking of patience, the founders usually don’t have it, so do the investors. It’s getting better these days as in mobile web, almost all the hottest sectors don’t have clear business model even in silicon valley anyway, investors are more willing to tell you, they invest it not for product but mainly because of the team.
- Probably we should not complain about market environment which can not be expected to be changed tomorrow. The most disappointing one is, and we are short of disrupt ideas which give people the confidence that we can be Big.
Everything starts with tiny and small. You may find lots of successful company in China starting as one-man business. What I want to emphasize here is that, in China web, we need give more space and better ecosystem for Innovation.