Business / Economy

China's start-up boom lures talent away from traditional path

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-27 11:22

TIANJIN - China's start-ups are vying against big companies for the best minds as the country pushes for entrepreneurship and innovation-driven growth.

Start-ups offer the prospect of realizing one's dreams, leading many to give up high-paying jobs at established firms, according to investors and entrepreneurs on Sunday at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Tianjin in north China.

A growing number of talented people are starting their own companies instead of working for big firms. China's start-up boom comes as the Internet plays a growing role in retail and other services and following endorsements of entrepreneurship by authorities.

"Back then there was a lack of talent in young companies, because there were a lot of risks and fear in not taking the traditional path," said Calvin Chin, founder of Transist, a start-up incubator. "But now as start-ups become increasingly more popular, and more and more companies grow into success from nothing, what you see is that smart people are opening their own companies in China."

Anna Fang, partner and CEO of Beijing-based venture capital firm ZhenFund, said the Chinese start-up community is studded with both ambitious up-and-comers and corporate veterans.

"Not just college graduates, but also senior corporate executives and public relations specialists -- they all want to start their own company, and that's really a significant advancement," Fang said.

The list of corporate veterans joining start-ups in China runs long. Jean Liu, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, joined Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi, Uber's arch-rival in China. Maggie Tan Jing quit her job at UBS to co-found Home-Cook, a start-up that sends people to cook homemade meals for white-collar workers in nearby office buildings. Longhsiang Loh, a veteran banker, joined online wealth management start-up Dianrong after nearly 18 years at Standard Chartered Bank.

"For companies, a big paycheck is no longer the best lure for talent," said Yuan Hui, founder of Shanghai-based artificial intelligence firm Xiaoi.

"It has to be the vision, something that touches the softest part of their hearts and make them realize that doing what they do can really make a difference for the world," Yuan said.

Investors are keen to see China attract talent from around world in the future, lured by the country's supportive atmosphere for entrepreneurship.

By attracting global talent, China could measure up to places like Silicon Valley in the United States, which has drawn bright minds, such as Elon Musk from South Africa, to create some of the world's most valuable companies.

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