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Capital's innovation street shares its success stories

By Hao Nan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-09-09 08:06:20

InnoWay, an innovation street in Beijing's Zhongguancun Haidian Science Park, is becoming an entrepreneurship landmark for grassroots entrepreneurs in the capital.

Since its establishment in June last year, the 220-meter-long street has incubated more than 600 startups, of which 350 received investments worth more than 1.75 billion yuan ($269.25 million), said Yao Hongbo, general manager assistant of Beijing Haidian Property Group.

State-owned Haidian Property and Tsinghua Technology Innovation Holdings started to transform the street, which was once home to shops selling books and clothes, in March 2013.

"We collected the fragmented property rights and invested 250 million yuan to rebuild the hardware environment, such as water and electric facilities," Yao said.

The companies worked to create an environment that was suitable for the growth of entrepreneurial projects.

"There are many companies in InnoWay serving as service platforms for startup businesses, and we wanted the street to become a service platform," Yao said.

In March this year, "Innohall" was built in the street to attract more young entrepreneurs.

"It is a service-oriented place. Individuals or startups can get a series of free services they need in the initial entrepreneurial period, such as financing, human resources, intellectual property rights as well as legal and policy consultations," Yao said.

More than 60 professional service firms and governmental agencies are housed in Innohall.

It also provides a one-stop shop to help prepare documents needed to start a business.

"Applicants can get four licenses - business license, tax registration certificate, organization code certificate and statistic certificate - that are necessary for a new company at one time in four days," Yao said.

The street is home to 37 innovative companies and service institutions, an increase from 10 in June 2014.

They cover all elements of entrepreneurship, including human resources and marketing.

On InnoWay

Angel Crunch, one of the first companies to move to InnoWay, helps startups find their first round of funding, said Lan Ningyu, founder of the company.

Lan, who was born in 1980, founded six companies since 2000 then worked as an angel investor before establishing Angel Crunch in 2011. He said he started the company after finding many "sore points" in the financing process and wanted to solve them.

"In 2011 there were no effective approaches for startups to find investors, only some traditional and inefficient ways such as sending e-mails and attending conferences, so I built the online platform to link young entrepreneurs and investors together," Lan said.

"Entrepreneurs can clearly see the experiences and preferences of every investor on the platform, so they can make targeted deliveries of their business plans," he added.

The young CEO said solving the financing difficulties often encountered by small and medium-sized companies was a tough issue worldwide and one of the most effective ways is through angel investments.

"We believe that entrepreneurs and their teams will get the first round of investment if they have done ample preparation and meet some basic requirements like perseverance, good judgment and execution capabilities. Angel Crunch makes the process easier," he said.

The online platform has two strong features, it is quick and it uses co-investment, Lan said.

"Investors must make the decision as soon as possible when they meet a good project, otherwise it may be snatched by others. And several investors can fund one project to share the risk," he said.

Unlike most Internet financial institutions, which only record borrowers' credit, Angel Crunch also records the bad behavior of investors.

As of July, about 140,000 entrepreneurs and 4,800 investors were registered on the platform and the company had helped nearly 400 entrepreneurial projects get more than 4 billion yuan in investments.

Another Zhongguancun company, Zhiguoguo.com, innovates the way trademark registrations are done by integrating the services of traditional intellectual property agencies with the Internet.

Liu Sisi, founder of the online IP service provider, said she started to think about the business model in 2013 with a simple idea. She wanted to build a fair, convenient and transparent service platform and to lower the IP costs for startups in their early days.

However, Liu said she was not confident if the public would like the model, so the company decided to provide a free trademark registration service to test it.

"It's actually a win-win decision, because it is the fastest and most effective way for us to accumulate customers," Liu said.

"Many of our customers got to know Zhiguoguo through the free service. We then could tell them the importance of core technologies and patents based on their needs of industrial transformation to further increase IP awareness," she added.

Customers can get online one-on-one service from the company's law consultants after they register as a member and then place an order to enjoy the service package if they want to register a trademark.

"Customers will be informed of every working procedure and all progress by phone and e-mail messages," Liu said.

The high-quality services and thriving development of e-commerce means Zhiguoguo soon became renowned nationwide. It now has about 40,000 customers in more than 370 cities and regions, including Singapore and Japan.

Zhiguoguo hit a record high of 10,000 trademark registration orders in July, which is equivalent to a year of orders at a 10-year-old traditional IP agency, Liu said.

On Aug 8, the platform launched two new services for patent and copyright applications.

Sales revenue this year is expected to reach 100 million yuan.

haonan@chinadaily.com.cn

Capital's innovation street shares its success stories

 Capital's innovation street shares its success stories

The 2015 K-Global Connect@Beijing and South Korea Starup DemoDay event hosts entrepreneurs from both nations at the Haidian Science Park on Aug 19.

(China Daily 09/09/2015 page12)

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