You are assistant dean of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, and about to speak in Newcastle. What about?
I am invited by Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) to speak at their Sydney campus and Macquarie University Incubator on February 12 and 13. In my last day in Australia, I will speak at University of Newcastle (February 14) about how to “Win in China”. I will talk about how companies can benefit from a rising China and the strategies to succeed in China.
Where were you born and raised and what influenced you to choose the career that has included working Fortune 500 companies including Mars, Monsanto and Wrigley?
I was born and raised in Shanghai, China. I left China for America for graduate school in 1994. I was fortunate to work at some of the world’s leading companies in their respected sectors. This experience shaped me tremendously in developing a global view.
In your CKGSB role you assist businesses to understand China in view of doing business there. What are the main obstacles for Western companies to succeeding in China?
The top three obstacles I see are culture, policy and partnership in China.
What are the most common mistakes companies make in trying to get a foothold in China?
The top four mistakes are failure to localise, failure to compete with local brand, picking the wrong partner and not playing nice with the government.
What are the first things companies looking to enter China should do?
Join our “China Start” program. This is a parachuting approach of reaching China. They could consider join one of the incubators or accelerators with local helps. They should assemble a small but capable local team. The local team will help them tremendously to understand culture, business system, regulation, customers, and avoid many possible mistakes.
What sort of time frame should they give themselves to gain ground?
It depends, but three months is a reasonable time.
What areas of business hold the most growth in China for Australian companies?
China is eager to work with Australia in many areas such as wine, iron, farming, dairy, tourism, technology, etc. For instance, I have a friend with a large dairy company who recently “immigrated” 5000 cows from Australia to China. The happy cows are now eating best grasses brought from California. Chinese consumers drink the milk from these Australia cows living in China. This is quite funny but real! Maybe soon, we will have more Australian cows than Australians in China.
Your predictions for future areas of growth in China for companies trying to do business there?
AI, fintech, blockchain, health care, medical device, pharmarceutical, human nutrition, algriculture, food, consumer products, fashion, personal electronics, clean tech, energy, etc.
You created the “China Start” program to bring global startups to China. You’ve promoted it in Europe, is Australia on the agenda?
Of course! Last September, with the support of SSE, three incredible Australian companies (Sonder Design, MySpringday, FarmPay) joined China Start program and had a great experience in China. I hope more Australian startups will join us in our June 4-8 program (www.china-start.org).
How big is the startup culture in China?
I must say it is very exciting. Chinese are very entrepreneurial and risk taking. The Chinese government is doing its best ever to encourage and support startups, in the framework of funding and policy, etc. We now have nearly 5000 incubators, more than 15,000 investment funds (private equity, venture capital, angel). Also, more and more Western startups/growth companies are seeking for expansion in this wonderland. Our school alumni are mostly 1st generation successful entrepreneurs. Their business makes up one fifth of China’s GDP. They are looking for ambitious startups and projects to invest from the West.
I have a friend with a dairy company who recently “immigrated” 5000 cows from Australia to China. The happy cows are now eating best grasses brought from California and Chinese consumers drink their milk. This is quite funny but real."- Bo Ji
What areas of innovation are you most excited about now globally?
Block chain technologies! I think it will really change how data are recorded and used. It will solve the trust issue and apply to many industries. I am upbeat about the electric car, clean tech, health industry. Those technology will create a better life and living for us in many years to come.
However, I am worried about AI technology. Some of the AI development is good. It improve the efficiency and make it convinent for us. But some other AI development is troublesome. I think it will lead to major disaster of the world and create disharmony of our human society.
To register for the Win In China event in Newcastle on February 14 go to Eventbrite.
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