Instead of focusing only on domestic growth, Chinese hardware companies are clearly more mindful of overseas markets in line with the globalization initiative. While smartphone heavyweights like Huawei are constantly hitting milestones in this regard, Chinese hardware startups are following their footsteps in sought of a broader market.
Over the past few years, crowdfunding has become a popular if not a must step for Chinese hardware projects to kick off their global plan. Chinese projects account for more than 10% of the funds being raised on Indiegogo, Sandy Diao, head of China operation at the crowdfunding platform said at TechCrunch Beijing this Monday.
It’s true that Chinese hardware companies enjoy certain benefits given their vicinity to the world’s manufacturing center in China’s Guangdong Province, where Shenzhen is seated, low labor costs, among others. But the challenges are still daunting and the speakers at event have shared some tips for Chinese hardware startups with a global vision.
Be Prepared for A Long-term Battle
“When it comes to the U.S. market, it is important to find the right crowdfunding platform and be fully prepared for you campaign, because it’s easier to acquire the first group of users through this channel at a relatively low cost. The crowdfunding users are more tolerant and may have lower expectations for the product.” Xiong Yifang, co-founder and CMO at drone maker EHang.
“Even if you had a successful crowdfunding campaign, that does not mean you can win a bright future hands-down. A long-term battle is laying ahead. For instance, if you want to launch your product in traditional offline retailing stores like BestBuy and acquire users on a sustainable basis, you have to do a really great job and there’s no shortcut to it.” Xiong emphasized.
“Exploring an overseas market is supposed to be a complicated procedure with all the issues such as regulations, taxations and local team management.”
Adapt Your Product For Local Needs
This sounds quite an intuitive tip cause culture shocks are inevitable. But sometimes the mistakes are made unconsciously.
“For some Chinese companies that have already gained a certain degree of traction in domestically, going global is about opening new sales channels and the market is easily attainable by copying their successful models. But it’s not that simple. “Sandy Diao pointed out.
“For example, family robots which facilitates communication between adult children and their parents are very popular in China, but it’s very difficult for users in the western world to understand this feature cause that’s not in accordance with their habits.” she said.
Create Online Community To Get Instant User Feedbacks
For hardware startups, users feedback may not immediate and it’s easy for manufacturers to get lost as to which points they can act on for improvement.
Aaron Liao, co-founder of portable steaming projector, suggested “it’s important to launch a platform where users can give their real time feedbacks to guide our development procedure, especially in overseas market, where the customer preferences and habits are not easily accessible for Chinese manufacturers. In addition, open community platforms will also engage users and increase user stickiness.”