Hangzhou-based startup weLian (微链) announced a 28 million RMB (about $4.2 million USD) round of Series A and A+ funding on Thursday, led by Bojiang Capital (博将资本) and Rushan Venture Capital (如山资本). weLian is a platform that connects different players in China’s startup ecosystem, such as investors and entrepreneurs.
“weLian wants to optimize the entire startup industry,” stated Hua Cai, the founder of weLian, in a press release. “We hope that our product will integrate the whole ecosystem, and help users successfully develop and grow through our platform.”
weLian’s platform is essentially a social network for investors and entrepreneurs with special features catering to both user type’s needs. For example, entrepreneurs can create ‘projects’ on weLian, which they can submit directly to individual investors. weLian projects are startup profiles that include information about funding status, past milestones and announcements, industry, product, and more.
Entrepreneurs can also send their business plans directly to investors on weLian, who can contact them if their interest is piqued. Investor profiles on weLian not only display their investment firm, maximum amount of investment, and past investments, but also their “feedback rate”, which refers to business plans that the investor has responded to, whether that means reaching out to the entrepreneur or rejecting them.
Investor profiles also show how many weLian “projects” have been sent to the investor, as well as the percentage of users that the investor has contacted after receiving their pitch. According to weLian, the platform currently has about 1,000 investors from more than 300 investment firms, including Ping An Ventures, SIG China, and IDG Capital. The company also claims more than 3,000 business plans are sent through weLian every day.
In addition to investor and entrepreneur profiles, weLian also displays startup-related events throughout China.
“A lot of entrepreneurs will go to offline events to reach out to investors, but exchanging business cards doesn’t really help, adding their WeChat doesn’t lead to real exchanges either,” says Lynn Ting, a PR manager at weLian.
weLian is not the only company trying to connect China’s fragmented ecosystem. For example, Chinese platform ITJuzi also keeps a roster of startup-relevant events in China. It also manages a database of startups and investment firms, which includes many of the same data points as weLian “projects” do.
This year, weLian plans to add features for “startup service” companies. “As startups become more popular, a lot of people will create companies that cater to and offer services to them, like tax services. They are also startups, but their clients are startups too,”says Ms. Ting. According to Ms. Ting, weLian’s mobile app will allow startup service companies to more effectively communicate and contact their clients by the end of the year.
Image credit: weLian