China’s booming mobile market is creating lucrative new business opportunities for startups, according to Australian entrepreneur and Koombah cofounder Jason Lim, who recently returned from China.
However, mobile is different in China because they have a generation of people who skipped the laptop phase and moved directly to smartphones, says Lim.
“China has the [world’s] largest number of mobile internet users with 500 million,” he says.
Lim told StartupSmart the mobile boom is leading to big startup opportunities mobile gaming, social media, online video and mobile commerce.
“China is set to surpass the US mobile gaming market next year and is on track to hit $US3 billion ($A3.23b) in revenue this year,” he says.
“China has a higher penetration rate of social media than the US. WeChat has emerged as the most powerful communication app but has evolved into much more than that,” Lim says.
The stats are staggering and not only limited to mobile. China has 450 million online video viewers consuming 5.7 billion hours per month.
“Mobile commerce is expected to double in size to $51.62 billion next year. Social mobile commerce is also gaining strong momentum,” Lim says.
“Outside mobile, due to China’s existing manufacturing infrastructure, wearable-tech and Internet of Things-type products are rising up.”
Lim’s venture, Koombah, helps expats in Beijing find rental accommodation, providing a web platform for people to list and find rental property. The business model is a combination of service fees charged to renters and commission shared with its agents.
Before Koombah, Lim was a cofounder of Technode.com, an English and Chinese tech blog, which aims to bring China’s emergent tech and start-up scene to the rest of the world. TechNode manages TechCrunch China and its TechCrunch Disrupt events in Beijing and Shanghai.
Since arriving in Beijing in 2010, he has also worked for the HTC Android app store AppStoreConnect and consulted for Jiepang, one of China’s leading mobile location-based service apps.
Lim explains Beijing remains the major city for China’s tech startup community.
“Within the city, Zhongguancun is a key hub for startups due to the proximity to top engineering schools like Tsinghua University. Major incubators like Innovation Works, co-working spaces like Garage Café and venture capital firms are centred around Zhongguancun,” he says.
“Shanghai is traditionally the more financial centre of China, however many tech start-ups are popping up in the city too. Since Shanghai has always been the most international city in China, there are many foreign entrepreneurs based there. The creation of the Free Trade Zone last year is also helping to attract foreign investment.
“Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the southern province of Guangdong are fast becoming tech startup zones. With a strong background in electronics and manufacturing, many hardware startups are choosing either city.
“Chengdu in the western province of Sichuan is fast becoming a hotspot for entrepreneurial talent, especially for gaming. With better weather and a much lower cost of doing business, many entrepreneurs from the more expensive eastern cities like Beijing are moving there. The city also boasts a Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone.”
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