When China entrepreneur Marc van der Chijs moved to Vancouver two years ago, he had already a history of Chinese start-ups under hit belt, including China´s largest video hosting firm Tudou. As VC he remains active in China from Canada, he tells LearnChineseBusiness.com, but misses the daily business vibe of the country.
LCB: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a business in China, or who wanted to do business with China from outside of the country? Is there anything that they should particularly be aware of?
MVDC: There are so many things that you need to be aware of, but I think the most important thing is to have a local partner, someone you can trust. Without that it’s virtually impossible to do business successfully in China as a non-Chinese person. I could, for example, never talk to high-level government employees, even if my Chinese would have been better. You need a local Chinese person for that, and not a consultant or someone who works for you, but a partner who shares in the ups and downs of the company.
Next to that, in China you need time to do business. You need to build up trust relationships with people, and that doesn’t work if you just fly to China once or twice a year. Either you need a local partner on the ground that builds up the business with you, or you need to be in China much more often. Because China is so big, companies expect quick results, but in reality it may take at least two to three years for most foreign companies before their local Chinese business starts growing.
LCB: What’s next for you? Will there be any more China- or Asia-based businesses founded by Marc van der Chijs in the future?
MVDC: I will be directly or indirectly involved with the Chinese operations of several companies I personally put money into or that our fund, CrossPacific Capital, invested in. For example, right now I am on the board of the fast-growing p2p lending site, Dianrong.com. I always look for new business opportunities for our portfolio companies.
This year I helped to co-found a p2p insurance company, Uvamo.com. The company will first launch in the United States, but I could imagine that we would eventually also set up Chinese operations because there is a huge market for this in China.
I don’t see myself living in China in the foreseeable future, but once my kids are a bit older (they are five and six now) I may consider it again. I miss the business vibe in China, but I also know that once I live in China, I’ll miss the quality of life and the natural surroundings that I have in Vancouver. There is always a trade-off, and I am quite happy in my current role where I work with China but am based in Canada.
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