When talking about serial entrepreneurs, people tend to focus on the bright side of the term. We would picture visionaries or leaders who have a better understanding of the industry, time management expertise or other traits that would help to beat the odds in the challenging startup scene.

In most cases being a serial entrepreneur would make things easier when you talk with investors or partners, but for those with a poor track record, it can be a huge hurdle.

Wang Kaixin, the 19-year-old CEO and founder behind ShenqiBuy or MagicBuy in English, has experienced a roller-coaster year in 2016 along with the rise and fall of her startup, which targeted her teenager peers by selling snacks, stationery, backpacks and anime-related toys.

After raising RMB 20 million ($3 million) funding from reputable VCs like Matrix Partners China, ZhenFund, and Inno Valley, ShenqiBuy shattered after mounting accusations of founder’s malpractices including data fabrication and extravagant spending.

Months after the infamous exit, Wang is back with her second startup. Instead of seeking funding from VCs this time, a post on Wang’s WeChat official account shows that the high school dropout is now crowdfunding in exchange for co-founder status in her new traditional Chinese medicine company.

Wang claimed that before July 30th, only RMB 50,000 was needed to become a co-founder of the new company for what Wang claimed would worth be RMB 500,000 after the crowdfunding deadline. She offered 50 positions for people who want to become her co-founders.

In exchange, the co-founders are promised over RMB 2 million in returns within one year. The investors don’t have to be worried about the operations since she has nine services systems in place, covering every aspect of the business: marketing, traffic and order management, as well as training, Wang claimed.

Despite the lucrative ROI, the whole thing sounded like a cheesy investment scam, not uncommon in China. Nothing was mentioned about their product itself. WeChat has blocked her account just one day after Wang publish her post and the crowdfunding post is not accessible now.

Post-90 generation entrepreneurs have been considered as a rising force in China’s tech landscape since the 2010s, given their acute senses of the market as bold digital natives. However, a slew of events have put an impetuous label on the group, forcing us to give a second thought to the cohort.

Yu Jiawen, the 27-year-old founder and CEO of education app Super Curriculum (超级课程表), shot to national fame after promising to distribute RMB 100 million bonus to employees on a talk show on China’s state media CCTV. When he failed to keep his word one year later, he answered in a frivolous manner, saying that “I chickened out, so what? I planned to hold a release conference to acknowledge this.” Yu’s response enraged Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo 360, who blow up calling Yu “hypocritical” for making promises he could not keep.

Ma Jiajia, the outspoken post-90 founder of sex toy startup Powerful (泡否), also saw her company fail due to lack of users after catching media spotlight as the talent to innovate China’s sex toy industry.

Post-90 entrepreneur is a special group of China’s rising millennial generation, a cohort now entering adulthood gradually and making a bigger mark on society. They’ve been given all manner of conflicting labels, including open-minded, individualistic, conservative, materialistic and international. Or perhaps, we shouldn’t put so many labels or stereotypes on the group. Everyone’s different after all and there’s are plenty of young entrepreneurs who are achieving their visions in a dependable manner.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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