As part of our overall mission - educating Western companies about what is happening in DigitalChina - we are occasionally organizing tailored trips for Western senior executives to visit digital champions in China. And just two weeks ago we finished the latest of these trips visiting companies in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. Main lesson: even though our last tour of those companies has only happened five months earlier, massive changes have been witnessed already - again!
We started in Shanghai with a visit to a small startup in the HR - AI space called Seedlink Technology
. They have developed an amazing technology: a “cultural fit prediction model”
that uses the company’s self-developed AI to measure a candidate’s cultural fit to the company simply by answering a set of three randomly chosen questions. L'Oreal, INDITEX and Coca Cola are some of their early customers in Europe
. If you want to learn more about them, there is an interesting report about Seedlink by the BBC
available. What is surprising about this company and its founder Robin Young is that from the outset they were focussing on internationalizing with an early second office in Amsterdam to head sales in Europe.
Next stop was Xiaohongshu
or Little Red Book
, China’s homegrown social commerce content powerhouse and app. Xiaohongshu is often described as “a sharing platform for young people’s lifestyles through user generated content. The platform is designed to help users discover and purchase products, share recommendations, and provide helpful tips. You could think of Xiaohongshu as a combination of Pinterest and Instagram.
They were just going through some tumultuous times as they were in the process of cleaning out their - admittedly - huge stable of on-the-platform KOLs (Key Opinion Leader aka Influencer)
. Some people called it a purge as the number went from 17,000 down to “only’ 5,000 influencers - depending on their number of fans. At the same time, they changed the business model for influencer
: RED would now also charge a commission on the influencer’s earnings, who will have to register with the platform to be eligible for cooperation (For more on this topic, check out PanDaily
or this article on Chinese
with Google Translate)
They also just made a big splash by announcing that Louis Vuitton has launched an account with them, the first luxury brand to have an official presence on the female-led platform to capitalize on its 200 million-plus users, 60 percent of whom are from tier-one and tier-two cities, and more than 70 percent are China’s post-Nineties generation or young Millennials.
Xiaohongshu is expected to double its revenue to US$2.9 billion next year.
The office is basically a very cost-effective co-working space where most of the portfolio companies are based for between 3 to 6 months of an acceleration period with access to mentors with deep market and technical expertise and an unparalleled infrastructure of fully outfitted laboratory & maker spaces. After an intro by William we saw pitches from three of their current portfolio companies: 247, Ocheng and Shopal.
After the exit of one of the founders earlier this year, the company had gotten some negative media coverage. But they faced all challenges head on and Byton is now on its way to close the C round of fundraising with FAW
as lead investor.
We saw a presentation of the new factory that is currently being built and scheduled to be completed by year-end in nearby Nanjing and inspected the two BYTON models in the showroom. The nascent brand is already known for having revolutionized the way we think about car interiors - just take a look at this enormous dashboard display in the front of the car.