Racing the Red Dragon

Today marks the first month of my stay in Shanghai. Since I deplaned on February 9th at Pudong International Airport, it has been a wave of new impressions. I could write volumes about the experiences I have gained; let’s focus on the two most memorable.

I thought I was living in a fast-paced world back home, I was wrong. Everything here goes faster, from making appointments to closing over 800m$ in funding. Let me tell you more.

While I was looking for an office in Shanghai on my first day of work, I reached out to providers of co-working spaces. Without exception, they got back to me within the hour (on a Sunday!), to ask if I would prefer to come by that same afternoon or the day after.

Meetings are hardly ever planned more than a week in advance. This pace enables both flexibility and focus, no need to wait for weeks to meet the people you need and you can focus on what is here and now.

This pace holds for the start-up environment too. Let’s take the example of funding rounds for Chehaoduo, a used car trading platform in China. They closed a Series B round raising $580M in October last year. Last week they announced their next Series C round, raising $818M, only 5 months after closing the previous round from the likes of Sequoia, Tencent and ICBC. I’m not saying raising these amounts of money within a short period is necessarily a good thing, but it does indicate the speed at which things are evolving in China.

The convenience of paying has also astonished me, just like any other foreigner arriving here. Cash and cards are a thing of the past, paying with your phone through WeChat or Alipay is already mainstream here. Just look at the growth of mobile payments compared to the US at the top of the article.

If it wasn’t yet very obvious, I am truly excited to be in Shanghai, and thrilled to be representing Venture IQ here. Experiencing the rapid pace of tech innovation and endless opportunities is fueling my drive.