A few days before Chinese New Year, when ChinaBang Awards was still in the online voting stage, I visited a very popular tech media’s office. I told them I would do a two day conference together with an awards ceremony right after the holiday. My friend was surprised and looked worried. “Have you got enough sponsorship?” He asked. “Um… I have not really started looking for sponsorship”. I was telling her the truth. These days, people can make loads of money from so called non-profit projects, but I’m not sure if it is kind of embarrassing. I am always good at turning a good business model into a non-profit project. Back in 2006, I first met TechCrunch and attended the first international conference LeWeb. Since then, I have had a ‘simple’ dream: To create a conference, less focused on commercial motivations and more focused on start-ups and encouraging true innovation.
In 2011, the Chinese internet market was hot! We had lots of money, internet café’s for start-ups sprung up, start-up incubators and tech parks run by individuals and government were established, more angel investors and more passionate entrepreneurs joined the start-up community. The tech sectors that boomed included social media, location based services, mobile messaging, mobile social networks, social e-commerce, mobile photo services, cloud, mobile games. 2011 was exciting and 2012 should experience the same boom.
However, in the mobile internet industry and especially in China, business models are still not quite clear. There are copycats everywhere and even many local VCs just follow the Silicon Valley investment strategy. Very good start-up incubators and early stage investment funds are still not so easy to find. Experienced angel investors and the driving force of innovation are still missing in the eco-system. In 2011, the eco-system did improve but it is still not very healthy.
So I hope ChinaBang 2012 will help China’s entrepreneurial eco-system by bringing people together and talking honestly about how we can all play a part of it. Some of the questions we will explore are what true innovation is, how to operate a good start-up and incubator what opportunities exist for Chinese companies in the global market. To inspire start-ups we will talk about internet TV, augmented reality, mobile games, technology in life. ChinaBang is designed for idea sharing and awarding the best start-ups as well as review 2011 and importantly to have the first big party in Chinese internet in 2012!
Of course, I cannot make all this happen by myself. I want to say a huge thank you to my TechNode team. In 2011, I “forced” this tiny team to work on all sorts of things like producing bilingual original content, organizing startups events and conferences etc. Thanks to them for understanding my dream of being a true TechCrunch in China. A big thanks to our platinum sponsor Silicon Valley Bank; to Lilly Huang and her team for their trust and support on XFounder Club. Thanks to all the sponsors: Paypal, GSR Venture, Singtel, Google, Popcap, Tianji and Silicom. Without their help and financial support we could not make all this happen. Thank you to my good friends Josh Zhang, Tony Zhao and many more who offering me lots of help only because they believe in my simple dream. Most importantly, I want to thank all our partners, bloggers, media and communities who support and promote ChinaBang Awards from the very beginning. You are all my mentors and good friends. At last, I would like to say thanks to Sarah Lacy, Heather Harde and the TechCrunch team. Although some of them have already left to start new ventures, I still feel grateful to TechCrunch which has been the guide for TechNode for years.
The Chinese web still needs a healthy ecosystem, which requires everyone’s effort. Hopefully ChinaBang can deliver the right startup spirit and become an independent stage for every startup to magnify their voice. As long as we keep trying, we will be more confident to speak out these two words: China, Innovation!
Dr. Gang LU
Founder of TechNode.com