Famous for inventing gunpowder, printing, paper making, and the compass, China has always been one of the world's greatest sources of discovery. In recent decades, the country has been known for its rapid industrialization and remarkable economic growth in an age of globalization. China's economic and trade relationship with countries like the United States have had boundless benefits--providing high-quality consumer goods at low import prices to the U.S., and in turn receiving imperative corporate investments. Mark Zhong, the founder of 500IPO, saw the fruits of this friendship, and made a vital connection with the entrepreneurial problem it could potentially solve.
1) Starting from the ground up
Palms sweaty, heart-racing, and an unwavering sense of blind ambition? You might've just caught the startup bug. If you're in China, this has become increasingly prevalent. However, it is also problematic because students can't seem to find the time, stability, or resources to pursue their innovative ideas. How can China improve their education system to help provide a more nurturing environment for today's young entrepreneurs?
Zhong at 500IPO, together with Stanford University's Association of Chinese Students and Scholars set out to find an answer by co-hosting an academic seminar on education mid-December of last year at the Li Ka Sheng Center for Learning and knowledge on Stanford's campus in Palo Alto, California. More than 50 scholars attended the seminar, which lasted for two and a half hours. Three of the Chinese scholars, who have studied education extensively, shared their thoughts about the education system in the United States.
Professor Li Guirong spoke about her observations from the time she started teaching at Stanford several months ago. She suggested that the main difference between the curriculum in China and the United States, is the pace. Student's education is 'slow' in the US, which results in much more peacefulness and orderliness in students and their families, whereas the pace is 'fast' in China, which has proven to be too ambitious and restless. As a visiting scholar, Professor Guirong hopes to help slow down the pace of education in China.
2) Synergy with Silicon Valley
With more than 3 million new cancer patients in China each year, and 64% of groundwater in the country polluted, many Chinese enterprises are beginning a critical stage of transformation and improvement. 500IPO's incubator platform wants to utilize America's advanced technology to solve some of China's largest environmental and social problems.
500IPO had its kickoff event in Silicon Valley earlier this year, which attracted entrepreneurs from around the world. Attendees flew in from the United States, Sweden, Hong Kong, Jiangxi Province, Guandong Province, and Guangxi Autonomous Region. Mr. Wang Junming, the science and technology counselor of the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, California; Jim Cogan, the Economic Development Manager of Menlo Park, California; and Mr. Cai, a famous lawyer in the Bay Area, were all invited, and gave speeches about Silicon Valley's spirit, and why it is the crucible for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.
The speakers shared their experiences of investing in Silicon Valley, and their stories deeply moved the audience. Many people were inspired by Mark Zhong's vision of finding 'the next Alibaba', and stayed afterwards to talk with the speakers. Zhong hopes to host even more events just like this one to help aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere find inspiration and perspective in this new era of innovation.
3) Connecting two nations
The co-founder of the London School of Economics, George Bernard Shaw taught us that, "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
Collaboration has always been the key to innovation, and with so many brilliant minds out there, we just need to find a way to put our heads together. Mark Zhong describes 500IPO as a network that does just that--connecting venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley with like-minded entrepreneurs and venture capitalists from China for collaboration and innovation.
In August last year, 500IPO held once of its first events: a forum on how to direct a Chinese startup in Silicon Valley. Guest speakers included Peter Kuo, California's first Chinese senator candidate, Mr. He, one of Google's product managers, and Mr. Kayvan, a successful incubator investor in Silicon Valley. Zhong hopes to build an innovative ecosystem by connecting Silicon Valley's creativity, capital, and promising business ventures with new business partners in China. Chinese entrepreneurs will soon be able to help Silicon Valley projects adapt to the huge Chinese market. Additionally, Silicon Valley investors will have peace of mind when they collaborate with other investors who understand China's market well. With a vision, 500IPO can bring talent from around the globe, as well as willing mentors and investors together, to solve the world's most pressing issues.