FounderSoup is an event that allows current students to pitch their idea, with the goal of attracting a co-founder. What better place to find a co-founder than Stanford; the epitome of start-up success? The greats such as Google, Cisco, Sun Microystems and Yahoo! all came out of Stanford. I know some start-ups who were given investment, just because they are from Stanford and the success rate of Stanford start-ups is so high.
Their website references that there are about 20 Stanford pitch events, with the majority aimed at attracting investment from VC’s, StartX is one of them. But VC’s who invest in early stage start-ups always want to know the team behind the idea. That’s why FounderSoup has the key mission of helping people recruit a team of technical co-founders that can actually build products and lasting companies. Since Stanford is home to many of America’s best minds in the fields of business and technology, the ‘soup’ is of high quality.
So the natural track my mind jumped to was, “If Beijing is China’s Silicon Valley and Tsinghua and Peking University are China’s Stanford’s, shouldn’t they have a similar program?” If I were to name it, I would call it ‘FounderHotpot’, since hotpot is super popular in China and it represents a mixture of ingredients to make an awesome soupy meal.
I know Tsinghua has a few entrepreneurial societies such as BATES (Business Association of Tsinghua Entrepreneurial Students-International Club), but the goal is more to run a business plan competition rather than really create innovative start-up ideas and eventually companies. However, if they applied the FounderSoup format and partnered with a tier 1 VC, would it yield the same success as Stanford?
The early stage investor, Steven Bell from Trilogy Ventures believes smart ambitious Chinese students can create awesome start-ups. That’s why he places his bets on students arguing they are “doers, determined, curious and passionate”. Others argue that Chinese students are too inexperienced and not business savvy enough to build a lasting business or company.
My take, is that educational institutions in China should run a program like FounderSoup because even if there is a chance students are not ‘ready’ they can still learn a lot from the process. If China truly has a goal of registering more home-grown patents per their latest ‘5 year plan under the indigenous innovation, patents’ and moving up the value chain, through innovation; then universities like Tsinghua, Peking and Fudan should start early by helping the smartest and creative people form teams to create break-through technology at a commercial level.