Anna Fang (方爱之, @annafanghamm), partner and CEO of ZhenFund joined us in a conversation to discuss early stage investment and startup ecosystem in China. We traced her serendipitous route on how she become an early stage investor by working with Xu Xiaoping, a famous super angel investor in China that led to building up ZhenFund. Anna also shared her investment thesis and the interesting companies under ZhenFund’s portfolio from China to Silicon Valley. We also chatted on ZhenFund’s focus on people and thinking in what they look for in founders and startups in a highly competitive startup ecosystem in China. Last but not least, Anna shared her thoughts on whether China is closing the gap with Silicon Valley and the startup ecosystem in China hovering within the Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent (BAT) axis.
Analyse Asia with Bernard Leong is a weekly podcast dedicated to the pulse of technology, business & media in Asia. They interview thought leaders and leading industry players and gain their insights to how we perceive and understand the market. Analyse Asia is a content partner of TechNode.
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Zhenfund is started by Bob Xu Xiaoping and Wang Qiang, what is the mission and vision for the venture fund? [4:30]
How is the fund structured? As I understand that it is originally started to invest in early stage startups in mainland China, and subsequently, Xu Xiaoping created a joint fund with Sequoia Capital. [5:15]
Xu Xiaoping started off as a very influential super angel in China (with an equivalent status to Ron Conway in Silicon Valley), and subsequently started Zhenfund, what is it like working with him and how does he think about investing in startups? [5:50]
What are the categories of startups that Zhenfund invest in? [7:12]
What are the traits that you observe common in startup founders and companies to be part of Zhenfund’s portfolio? The 100 Points system – the founder must have 100 points in one thing against other traits. [10:50]
How does Zhenfund help the portfolio companies to scale and move forward after the investment? [12:07]
Does Zhenfund engage the corporate development teams from BAT? Note: Tencent is a LP to ZhenFund. [13:10]
How many startups have Zhenfund invested to date from China to Silicon Valley? 300 startups to date. (See Portfolio) [13:20]
Is it more interesting to focus on startups that can scale globally or in the large domestic market of China? [14:43]
Can you talk about any three interesting companies in Zhenfund?
China startup ecosystem
Given the recent Chinese equities market crash and US funds slowing down investments in unicorns, how does this affect the startup ecosystem in China? [15:20]
Do you see that there will be a slowdown in investments for early stage, middle or late stage companies in China? [16:40]
Compare to Silicon Valley, do you think that China’s startup ecosystem is now closing the gap given the rise of BAT, talent reflux within startups and 1st generation role model entrepreneurs such as Lei Jun? [17:17]
Which are the essential gaps that the China’s startup ecosystem need to close in order to match Silicon Valley? [18:40]
How competitive is China’s startup ecosystem? [19:50]