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VC monsoon a boon for expats

By Matt Hodges ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-03-30 07:34:15

The new American Dream is being built in China - by expats working in league with local companies and investors to tap a rising middle class with higher quality-of-life expectations, writes Matt Hodges.

Most expats in Shanghai either use or at least know of Sherpa's, the food delivery service launched by Michigan's Mark Secchia in 1999. Even for Chinese, who make up a minority of its customer base, its army of orange-and-black couriers are a familiar sight. They may not be as ubiquitous as the mopeds delivering McDonald's or Pizza Hut, but they have become a big part of the urban landscape.

Showing something of a Midas touch, Secchia took $50,000 seed money in 1999 and turned it into a $20-million-per-year business targeting foreigners in Shanghai, Beijing and idyllic Suzhou in Jiangsu province. Sherpa's 313 client restaurants now serve 92,000 dishes, yielding about 3,000 orders on a good day, or one every 10 seconds online at peak times.

VC monsoon a boon for expats

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