Sinovation Ventures, a Beijing-based venture capital firm and startup incubator, launched its South China headquarters in Nanshan on Thursday, aiming to help Shenzhen entrepreneurs turn their startups into high-growth businesses.
"Shenzhen is one of the most technology- and startup-friendly cities in China. Shenzhen entrepreneurs are low-key, down-to-earth and have strong executive ability but there are not many bootcamps and training activities," said Kai-fu Lee, chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, in Shenzhen.
"We will provide advice and connections to help the startup founders further develop their product, team and market and refine their business model," said Lee.
Sinovation Ventures plans to invest in startups in artificial intelligence (AI), entertainment and content, online education, enterprise service, business-to-business and FinTech (financial technology).
AI has been a key theme Lee has raised repeatedly in recent years. The firm has invested in 25 AI-related startups in the past four years. "Venture capitalists now are cautious amid Internet bubbles because Internet and app users' growth is declining. Business growth no longer depends on huge user amounts, so AI, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are investors' appetite now because the technology behind them is real and sustainable," said Lee.
Founded in 2009 by Lee, Sinovation Ventures has invested in around 300 startups, including well-known Internet companies such as Zhihu, Wandoujia and Meitu. The firm already has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Silicon Valley in the U.S.
Early this month, it raised two venture funds — a U.S.-dollar fund with US$300 million and a 2.5-billion-yuan (US$374 million) RMB fund, for entrepreneurs entering either U.S. or Chinese markets. It currently manages three U.S.-dollar funds and two RMB funds, with total assets under management reaching US$1.2 billion.
To support innovation and entrepreneurship, Shenzhen has set aside 200 million yuan in capital to help makers and set up a 300-million-yuan fund for makers development, according to Cai Wenqin, vice secretary-general of the Shenzhen Municipal Government. He said Shenzhen has a solid environment for innovation with 1,231 maker spaces and 140 incubators as of the end of 2015.
"I believe in the next five years, more small and medium-sized companies and self-employed firms will emerge in China," said Lee.