Yuanzi.fr aims to target the 600,000 Chinese population in France, combining good food, making friends and group-buying all on one platform.

Yuanzi works like this: It pushes out a round of group-buying deals for meals at various restaurants, displaying the date, time and maximum number of participants for each establishment. Interested users are then able to purchase the specific deals that they want. Users are able to see the profiles of other users who have also purchased the same deal, and add them as friends if they desire.

Once the deal is purchased and paid for via Alipay or Paypal etc., users simply show up at the stated date, time and venue to enjoy a meal and hopefully make friends with the other participants during the process. In this way, Yuanzi combines all three aspects – group-buying, social and food.

Currently in its beta stage, Yuanzi aims to officially launch in Paris at the beginning of June. Some might wonder why Yuanzi decided to launch in Paris, of all places? According to statistics, of the 600,000-strong Chinese population in France, there are over 50,000 Chinese students, and by 2015 it is estimated that Chinese students will be the largest proportion of international students in France. Additionally, Paris has over 4000 middle-sized restaurants, enough to cater to the demands of consumers. Presumably, the large number of restaurants would also mean a higher chance of finding interested merchants to join Yuanzi.

Culturally, one of the most popular social activities among Chinese people is gathering for a meal. However, when one is overseas, there is a tendency to withdraw and keep to oneself more, resulting in a difficulty in expanding one’s social circle. Yuanzi hopes to help alleviate this problem amongst Chinese in France by allowing Chinese people to meet fellow countrymen over a meal and forge new friendships.

Yuanzi is currently the only company in this unique market, with no direct competitors, hence opportunities to expand into new markets are aplenty. However, it is to be noted that this business model would only work in overseas markets where there are large numbers of Chinese population.

Zen is a tech journalist with a fondness for tech gadgets and pandas. She is also a full-time grad student studying business journalism at Tsinghua University, and often spends much time dreaming about...

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