As a foreign tech company in China, getting a leg up from a Chinese tech giant can be good for business.
Here we listed three foreign companies that leveraged the help of Chinese tech giants to scale their business or lower the cost of expanding in China.
1. Mei.com and Alibaba
Mei.com, a luxury and fashion sales website, partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Alibaba strategically invested over a $100 million USD in Mei.com on July 2015. Since then, the two companies have been collaborating on technology-driven changes in the traditional fashion industry.
“From this year, Alibaba has been helping Mei.com on big data technology, which helped us reduce acquisition cost per a customer to a fraction of what we used to pay,” co-founder and CEO of Mei.com, Thibault Villet says.
Leveraging Alibaba’s big data technology, the company is in the middle of making changes to provide a personalized experience for customers. The company plans to recommend products based on a real-time personalization of the product, which will be coming in three months.
“[Big data] is our full year priority. We expect that this personalization will improve the conversion by 30 to 50%,” Mr. Villet says.
The next step for Mei.com is constructing personalized experience for the shoppers, leveraging Alibaba’s big data infrastructure.
“The future is definitely personalization… The way to engage through social media will be much more personalized going forward.”
Mr. Villet saw opportunity in Virtual Reality, and believes that this will provide another way to inspire shoppers. Mei.com mentioned a new concept of fashion applications that can link a fashion show in realtime to VR headsets.
“When we do a fashion show, we will be able to leverage the technology to review and potentially participate in the show. This will provide a better consumer experience on storytelling. Before the end of the year, we will do tests on new-frontier,” Mr. Villet said.
At a recent event, Mr. Villet encouraged attendees to try out their fashion video content via VR headset. He did not mention if their VR expansion will be in line with Alibaba’s Buy+ Plan, which aims to provide high-quality VR content.
2. Bowhead Technology Inc and Foxconn
Bowhead Technology Inc, the maker of IoT water bottle Gululu, partnered with Taiwanese multinational manufacturing company Foxconn to mass produce their hardware for Kickstarter. The campaign, which closed in July this year, doubled its Kickstarter goal with $206,016 USD, pledged of a $100,000 USD goal.
“Foxconn is like an empire. They have many factories under the sub-group we are now working with and their close supplier happen to have experience making water bottles for Thermos before. Their vendor network and sourcing capability is really good,” Alvin Chiang, founder and CEO of Bowhead Technologies Inc told TechNode.
Mr. Chiang is the former CMO of Chinese social networking site Renren and a VP of Alibaba group, which made it rather easy for him to connect to the manufacturing giant.
“Since I’m Taiwanese, I was introduced to some top tier Taiwanese manufacturers. So it was rather easy to get introduced to Foxconn,” Mr. Chiang says. “Foxconn had seen many startup failures, so they were very careful in the process. They had their own judgement of the product potential, and they were bold enough to take our project after we made presentation to them three times.”
Based on a study that shows 54.5% of children in U.S. are dehydrated, Gululu water bottle gamifies the water drinking for children, so that they can be motivated to drink water by caring for virtual pets in the bottle. The child’s drinking habits can be viewed by their parents through a cloud-based app. The FDA-approved bottle integrates firmware and sensors that record water consumption, coupled with Tamagochi-like animations.
“Of course, it was way much more expensive to manufacture it with them. It meant a premium, high quality product. We really wanted to show that Chinese [companies] can make high quality product,” Mr. Chiang says. “Without them, we wouldn’t have such a safe, durable product.”
3. Udacity and Didi Chuxing
Silicon Valley-based online educational company Udacity partnered with China’s leading ride hailing company Didi Chuxing to expand into the China market and to jointly grow connected car professionals.
Udacity announced on Wednesday that it has teamed with Didi Chuxing, Mercedes-Benz, Nvidia and Otto to train engineers to develop self-driving car technology. The announcement follows Udacity partnering with Didi Chuxing as part of a $100,000 prize machine learning competition this May.
With its mission to bridge the gap between real-world skills, relevant education, and employment, the company expanded its “nanodegree programs” to China in this April. Nanodegree programs are a paid intensive certification course that trains people for technical jobs such as software developers.
Mei.com, Bowhead Technology Inc, and Udacity were all hosting companies at the NewCo event held in Shanghai on Tuesday, organized by Chinaccelerator. The host companies invited the attendees inside their headquarters, offering insight into how they run their business.
Image Credit: Mei.com, TechNode