Since its founding, Innovation Works has been entangled with harsh criticisms over its “follow suit strategies”. Wang Hua, co-founder of Innovation Works commented on that and introduced the Chinese incubator’s tastes for projects and entrepreneurs.
At the 7th ChinICT “Tech Stars in China” Conference, when asked about criticisms from the outside world over its projects DianDian (like Tumblr) and ZhiHu (like Quora) copying their foreign counterparts Tumblr and Quora, Wang said that “I’m not defending” but we chose those projects from the points of investment and user needs. Innovation Works is not going to interfere with the project direction as long as the team has chosen the right one. So it’s up to the team to decide the direction and vision. It there already is something innovative in existence, one can refer to them. If not, one can be innovative then. Many creative and successful companies started their business with imitation before being innovative and outstripped their rivals, including QQ and Google, Wang remarked.
As for how Innovation Works pick up projects, Wang said that actually the famous Chinese concept accelerator doesn’t go through business plan – which would be a big surprise to entrepreneurs who spend lots of time polishing their business plans – rather it put more focus on the main direction and team members. “We’re inclined to invest in teams with 2-3 co-founders.” said Wang Hua. Chinese startup arena is facing more fierce rivalry compared to 10 years ago.
There are three things Innovation Works would pay much attention to before deciding on any deal:
1) Find out whether the founder has clear thinking, knows one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
2) Attach much importance to is executive force.
3) The team members.
According to Wang, Innovation Works has a preference for mobile internet, ecommerce and cloud computing at its founding, while mobile internet attracts most of its attention. Startups with prosperous direction, disruptive products, potential of becoming billion-dollar business are all on its menu.
YCombinator, the American counterpart of Innovation Works, prefer to invest projects which were founded by twentysomething, while Wang said, their hand-picked project founders aged from 20 to 40. Innovation Works to date has invested over 30 startups in China, including Wangdoujia, UMeng and the controversial Diandian and Zhihu.