FunderTech opens up a new gateway in China

New Zealand-based business FunderTech is opening doors to the Chinese market for Kiwi innovators with its latest venture. 

The company announced last week that five new business landing pads are now available for New Zealand businesses in China.

FunderTech helps New Zealand companies break into the Chinese market by organising events and seminars with a Chinese investor club, tapping into the US$338 billion in funds available to startups in China in 2016. Now five leading business hubs in Shanghai, Chengdu and Chongqing are opening their doors to foreign businesses, thanks to relationships fostered by FunderTech.

FunderTech managing director Rob Thomas says these landing platforms could help many New Zealand businesses develop their products.

“We think there are thousands of businesses in New Zealand who this is relevant to, but they have to be businesses we believe have early-stage sales that match what the Chinese market is looking for.

“There are a lot of pit-falls for going into the Chinese market and it’s a big decision to make the move, and we’re here to make businesses as successful as possible when landing in China.”

FunderTech, which was established earlier this year, is already proving it can make the transition into the Chinese market smoother for Kiwi businesses. Two of the five companies FunderTech took to China to pitch at an angel investor road show in October are now in negotiations for funding with investors. A further two companies have completely re-thought their investment strategy to better suit market demands.

Each Chinese Incubation Hub offers a modern working environment with a shared Business Development Manager
 

Thomas sees FunderTech as a way to fast-track New Zealand businesses into China, and hopes this latest venture will only increase chances of success.

Chinese local government is supporting the initiative by providing shared workspaces, while FunderTech will be providing a wrap-around support service for businesses to accelerate growth and investment opportunities.

Up to 40 foreign businesses can establish at an innovation hub in China under the new deal. Each innovation hub is different, but all include a shared local business development manager, a modern office space, assistance with company registration and multi-entry visa application, as well as regular social networking opportunities. Some incubators even offer a month’s free accommodation while businesses get settled in the area.

FunderTech is also offering business support modules available to accelerate the landing process, which include consumer research, product and marketing, manufacture and importation. They are also assisting businesses by helping with applications for local government grants and introductions to Chinese angel investors.

New Zealand Business GeoARGames presenting to Angel Investors at the Chengdu Innovation Hub

Thomas says having people from a company on the ground in China is important to helping the company grow within the market. “The relationship between New Zealand and China continues to grow and develop as more barriers come down. It’s really important that Kiwi businesses are close to the action, so while the possibilities to work remotely are growing, being based in China allows them to learn more and get actively involved with the marketplace.”

A lot of FunderTech’s network is based in Chengdu – a city with the fastest-growing economy in China. There are now direct flights operating between Auckland and Chengdu, which Thomas hopes will help attract businesses.

“We understand that there are parts of China that haven’t matured yet and the livability of a city is really important to consider when sending staff to live there. Our innovation hubs have been chosen with this in mind.”

FunderTech works with the companies it takes to China to make sure they are ready for the Chinese market. Once their presentations are developed, they are translated into Mandarin and the business representatives are given cultural training to ensure they make the best impression.

“The angel investor category is much bigger in China than in New Zealand. At our last roadshow we had about 300 people in the audience and about 40 people at the one-on-one discussions with potential investors.

“It’s a great platform for Kiwi innovators to realise the potential of their product and start to validate it.”

It is critical that a New Zealand business looking to move into the Chinese market has some form of intellectual property, because everything is so easily duplicated in China, he says. “There are a few elements that are positive to New Zealand businesses, and one of those is that we have some products that are unique or nearly impossible to copy, like merino wool.”

New Zealand products have a good reputation overseas because of the quality assurance that comes with a New Zealand brand, he says.

The next FunderTech angel investor roadshow is planned for 2017, and will include visiting incubation hubs and pitching to angel investors.