G-Startup Worldwide is held in 9 locations around the world to find the most innovative early-stage startups, invest US$1 million in them, and support them with a global network
The democratisation of innovation and entrepreneurship from Silicon Valley to local startup ecosystems around the world is driving an economic revolution — from job creation and attracting international talent to global investments.
Angel investors, VCs, accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, and conferences are popping up in emerging markets to help spur this movement. One such player is the GMIC (Global Mobile Internet Conference) Beijing, arguably the most influential tech conference in Asia, drawing thousands of international mobile industry executives, entrepreneurs, developers and investors from 60-plus countries. It is regarded as the hub of globalisation and localisation of tech.
As a global innovation strategist and passionate inclusive ecosystem builder, I travelled across the world from Silicon Valley, in order to learn more about the international startup scene at GMIC and get a peek into their G-Startup Worldwide competition, a global startup competition held in 9 locations around the world to find the most innovative, early-stage startups, invest US$1 million in them, support them with a global network and enable them to change the world. Entrepreneurs and investors came from near and far to be part of this event.
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What was really interesting to me is that G-Startup has top-tier VCs in the local regions evaluating and screening out the top 100 to 25 to 10 startups. Investors are guaranteed to see the best of the best. G-Startup has a reputation for helping to launch successful companies including Didi Kuaidi – Beijing 2013 “Most Innovative App” Winner (now US$20 billion valuation); App Annie – Beijing 2010 Finalist (raised US$154 million from Sequoia and IDG); and Polar Rose – Beijing 2010 Finalist (acquired by Apple in 2010).
Hans Tung, Midas List VC with GGV Capital, flew in from San Francisco, CA. Hans has been an early-stage investor in both the US and China (Xiaomi, Airbnb, Wish, Misfit, et. al.) and is a big proponent of cross border mass market globalisation. Hans has been a part of GMIC and G-Startup year over year because of the organisation’s “ability to pull together mobile executives, founders and investors from all around the world. And now with an early-stage fund and co-investing along side seasoned VC’s in each market, it only makes sense.”
And he is not the only fan. “I paid notice to GMIC and G-Startup very early on. I believe in their mission of driving global mobile internet innovation. They are really critical in helping founders gain access to resources as well as connecting quality startups to investors from all around the world.” David Tang, Partner and Managing Director of Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), was not only a G-Startup judge but also delivered two keynote speeches at GMIC addressing the investment strategy for two of NGP’s main investment focus areas in China; digital health and consumer IoT solutions.
The allure of G-Startup Worldwide for founders and investors alike is the global promotion and exposure to GWC’s deep global network: GWC also hosts a private dinner followed by a roundtable discussion with approximately 20 of the world’s leading innovators in the mobile industry from key markets worldwide held bi-annually in Beijing and Silicon Valley with past attendees including Mark Zuckerberg, Yuri Milner, Reid Hoffman, Pony Man, Robin Li, Lei Jun, Ben Silberman, Nathan Blecharczyk, and more.
Founders also have the chance to access to influential VCs and strategic investors. Past judges have included Dave McClure, Founding Partner of 500 Startups; Jenny Lee, Managing Partner of GGV Capital; Tim Draper, Managing Director of DFJ; and Neil Shen, Founder of Sequoia China. There were dozens of evaluators, mentors, and judges including Hans Tung, GGV, Managing Partner; Alex Yao, Cheetah Mobile, SVP; James Shen, Qualcomm Ventures, Managing Director; David Tang, Nokia Growth Partners, Managing Director; Akio Tanaka, Infinity Venture Partners, Co-Founder and Managing Partner; Rui Ma, 500 Startups, Partner; and Anna Fang, Zhen Fund, Managing Director.
Suthenesh Sugumaran, Founder of Pacific Founders/Belazee, an on-demand concierge service and e-commerce platform, travelled all the way from Malaysia to compete. “First and foremost, I am looking forward to learning about all that is going on in China and globally as well as from the other founders. Second, we are raising a Series A so being a part of G-Startup is an incredible platform to connect with investors and media. Lastly, I am looking forward to the PitchCamp mentorship to improve on my delivery and presentation skills.”
The day before the conference, the top 10 finalists had the opportunity to practise in front of top tier mentors at PitchCamp who helped them refine their pitches. On the first day of the GMIC Beijing, each of the 10 finalists had 5 minutes to pitch their companies before fielding 5 minutes of questions from the panel of investor judges. The panel then selected three startups who would go on to pitch to a different set of judges during the final round on the main stage. All of the top 10 receive three months of free space at DAY DAY UP and are accepted to Google Developers Launchpad Program.
Jeff Yu, founder of Zoom Offices, a commission-free online office platform connecting office providers and users, noted that even though his company did not make the top 3, he found tremendous value in being part of G-Startup. “G-startup has a lot of exposure globally and always attracts the most prestigious investors, mentors and judges. The mentors pointed out some areas we needed to improve upon and we immediately made those changes to our pitch. We are very grateful for this opportunity.”
So, who were the winners?
First place: An You Tian – on-demand grocery delivery. Winner of a US$50,000 investment prize and a trip to Silicon Valley to compete at the G-Startup Worldwide Global Finals in September for an additional US$250,000 investment prize! After the finals they will be able to attend a 3-day bootcamp at Google’s headquarters.
Second place: Yihu DaoJia – on-demand healthcare. Winner of a US$20,000 investment prize.
Third place: Deepshare – Deeplinking SDK and analytics for app developers.
The top 3 each received a membership in G-Network, our global, invite-only, tech leader community.
I was thoroughly impressed by all the founders, judges, and high caliber of attendees. Needless to say, I’ll be attending as many of these G-Startups as I can around the world. As Hans told me, “Cultural barriers are the hardest thing to overcome. When you can take a group a mobile executives, investors, founders and take them around the world. That alone is worth a lot.” That’s the power of GMIC and G-Startup.
The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your article here.
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