A list of the top ten Chinese startups you should know. Image Credit: The Org.
China's startup economy is one of the most active in the world. Globally, the country produces the second most unicorn companies after the United States, and it is home to the world’s most valuable startup, tech company Ant Group.
The Org has looked at ten Chinese startups gaining popularity in the country.
36Kr is a Chinese data, information and publishing company founded by Chengcheng Liu in 2011. The company is dedicated to providing services through three business segments: 36Kr media, venture capital and Kr space.
Boasting over 80 million readers in 2016, the company provides necessary information to help Chinese startups grow their business. The company has raised more than $100M in funding since its genesis, attracting large Chinese investors such as Ant Group and China Merchants Capital. Headquartered in Beijing, 36Kr has assisted over 20,000 startups with its services and helped over 4,000 companies secure funding.
Liu himself is a graduate of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and has a master's degree in data mining and parallel computing from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was named in the 30 Under 30 list by Forbes magazine in 2016.
Founded in 2012 by Xinhua Ji, Kun Hua and Xianfeng Mo, UCloud is one of China's leading cloud computing companies. It offers IT infrastructure services to customers from various industries, including banking, gaming, education and government.
So far, UCloud has been through six rounds of investment. In its latest Series E round, the company received $15.1M from China Mobile. In the past, the company has attracted investment from DCM, Bertelsmann and Legend Capital. UCloud became the first company to have a dual-class share structure in China. It received an initial public offering of CN¥1.94B ($284M) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange's STAR Market.
Currently, UCloud operates in 25 regions, including Los Angeles and Washington D.C. in the United States, and it has 15 overseas data centres. Headquartered in Shanghai, the company now has over 1,000 employees.
Game Science Studio is an online gaming company focused on designing high-quality virtual experiences for its users. Chief Design Officer Yang Qi and CEO Feng Ji co-founded the company in June 2014 after leaving their jobs at Tencent, a Chinese multinational technology conglomerate.
Although China's mobile gaming developers have received international recognition, studios have yet to produce international premium games. Game Science could be one of China's first premium game designers to enter the global market.
In August last year, the company launched a 13-minute trailer for its new single-action player game, Black Myth: Wu Kong, based on famous Chinese mythology, Journey to the West. After it received more than eight million views online, the trailer drew international attention and convinced Tencent to become one of the company’s investors.
Game Science Studio currently has headquarters in both Hangzhou and Shenzhen. The Hangzhou team is focused on developing premium games, and the Shenzhen team will continue to grow its mobile gaming presence.
Zaker is a Chinese news aggregator website founded by Senhe Li in 2010. The platform shows personalized content to its readers based on their interests and allows them to have discussions through online forums. As the site is highly integrated with Chinese social media applications such as Weibo, WeChat and QQ, users can easily share stories with their friends and family.
Zaker is considered an 'alternative' news platform in China. As of 2020, it is reported to have an estimated 50 million daily active users, with most of its readers aged between 25 and 35 years old. The company is headquartered in Guangzhou, with offices in both Shanghai and Beijing.
So far, Zaker has been through five rounds of funding. Its latest round of funding was a Series C round in August 2018, led by Shanghai-based investment and marketing firm Heyi Capital. Other investors include Haitong Leading Capital Management, Eight Road Ventures and Legend Capital.
Baby Bus develops educational applications for preschool children. It is reported that the founder and CEO of the company, Guanyu Tang, initially built the app so that he could teach his two-year-old son how to recognize colors.
After learning about the market potential of the resource he had developed, Tang decided to build more tools for preschoolers, including ones that would help them recognize shapes and forms of transportation.
Now, Baby Bus is recognized as one of China's largest providers of early learning content. It has launched over 130 apps and covers topics such as science, music, languages and art. The company has more than 300 employees and more than 400 million users worldwide.
Sparkly Key Animation Studio
Film and production company Sparkly Key Animation Studio uses 3D technology and cartoon renderings to create video animations for television and online games. The studio was founded in 2005 by Robin Shen.
Sparkly Key has won over 100 animation awards in China and has a loyal following on its animation "Qin Shi Mingyue", distributed in over 37 countries and regions worldwide.
In its latest Series D funding round in Nov. 2017, the animation studio received CN¥50M from Chinese Venture Capital firms, including Dunhong Capital Management, YF Capital and Shenzhen Qianhai Xingwang Investment.
Founded by Xiangtan University graduate Vincent Chao in 2015,BaiMaoHui is a Chinese Internet security company with over 160 million data assets. Chao himself is a data security expert who previously served as a web security director at Qihoo 360.
The company established the "HaiMaoHui Security Research Institute,” which focuses on research and development in cyberspace mapping, big data security and blockchain security. It works closely with the Chinese government and is a member of the China Cyber Threat Governance Alliance and the Chinese National Vulnerability Database.
Headquartered in China's capital, Beijing, the company raised a Series A in April 2018 and was funded by DHVC, a Palo Alto-based venture capital firm.
Online education company Yuantiku provides a variety of valuable resources for exam and test-takers in China. Its comprehensive database includes content from previous years examinations and offers online practice tests which users can take from their smartphones or computers.
Some of the material available on Yuantiku includes resources for taking the infamous Chinese National College Entrance Exam, civil service examinations, postgraduate entrance exams, and law, accounting and enterprise examinations, and many more.
Founded by CEO Yong Li in 2012, the company raised a $15M Series C in 2015, valuing it at $125 million -- and it has since expanded exponentially. In April 2021, with an estimated fortune of $2 billion, Li was ranked 1,580th in the "2021 Forbes Global Rich List."
Happy Elements is an interactive entertainment company that aims to "create better cultural entertainments, and convey happiness and joy to more people." The company focuses on developing mobile games, and also does work in animation, licensing music and radio production.
Founded in 2009 by Haining Wang, the company -- headquartered in Beijing -- now boasts more than 600 employees worldwide, with offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tokyo, Kyoto and San Francisco.
So far, Happy Elements has had two rounds of funding, with its latest Series B round in 2011 raising $30 Million. Its two investors are DCM Ventures and Legend Capital.
Beijing Hotgen Biotech Co
Beijing Hotgen Biotech is a research, development and distribution company for medical equipment and devices. Founded in 2005 by Changqing Lin, Jingjing Zhou, Hongshan Wei and Xiaolan Yang, the company now has over 1,000 employees.
In 2018, Beijing Hotgen Biotech won second place in the China Medical Science and Technology Awards. It has also been named one of the "Top 100 Private Technological Innovations" and "Top 100 Medical Enterprises in the Future.” The company works closely with the Beijing Science and Technology Commission.
So far, the biotechnology company has raised a total of CN¥33M in funding over three rounds. Its latest Series B round in 2019, led by Shenzhen GTJA Investment Group, received a total of CN¥20M. Its other investors include Greenriver Investment and Fortune Venture Capital.
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