Anyone who has been to a tier-1 Chinese city will probably have come across the long queues in front of stores throughout the city. People call them “wanghong (网红) stores, borrowing the Chinese term for internet celebrities to illustrate the businesses’ offline virality.

“There’s not much innovation coming out of the online retail space anymore, Partner at Sequoia Wang Cen says at Iyiou‘s Global Industry Innovation Summit (GIIS) in Shenzhen. “Expect to see some excellent offline products and experiences that are grabbing traffic from online.

While most venture capitalists are fixated on cyberspace, Wang has been slowly but surely making returns from traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. He describes his portfolio as those for the hicks—the opposite to sexy, trendy internet startups. His picks span from a laundry service and beauty hospital to snack chains like Zhou Heiya (周黑鸭) whose famous braised duck-necks have made it into a Hollywood blockbuster and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

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Rita Liao

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.