The mobile internet and startup ecosystem here in China has evolved at a torrid pace in recent times. Wechat has solidified its place as the dominant messaging and *lifestyle* platform for everyday people, leaving Facebook to scramble and play catch-up with Messenger in the West. The 直播 phenomenon has spawned hundreds of apps and is slowly trending overseas. Moreover, as of late, Chinese startups have been finding success abroad. Musical.ly, based in Shanghai, built a hit app for teens in the US and around the world, emerging as the next global social media startup darling with a last raise at a $500M valuation.
Having spent some time in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen this year, I've learned to deeply appreciate the work ethic and drive of founders and teams in China. Combined with the deep resources in terms of funding and engineering talent at their disposal, it's apparent to us that with the right guidance around distribution and product, a new wave of Chinese-born startups targeting exclusively US and international markets will enjoy tremendous success.
We'd like to do our part to lead this movement. My partners and I have built successful products in multiple verticals - mobile games, mobile app stores, marketplaces, and digital currencies, to name a few. We're alumni of Y Combinator, Facebook and Amazon, and have invested in and advised dozens of early-stage Silicon Valley startups.
We think our experience and networks can be invaluable for Chinese startups who are targeting overseas markets. To this end, we're seeking the most promising teams working in this space to work with hands-on in a framework similar to the early batches of Y Combinator. In exchange for a small amount of equity, startup teams will receive a small amount of funding and be part of a tight-knight group of founders that will meet weekly over the course of 12 weeks and receive mentorship by our team of partners and advisors, culminating in introductions to investors at the end of the program.
We're eager to see what teams and ideas approach us and don't have strict requirements around what ideas are acceptable. Given the general theme of Chinese startups attacking global markets, we expect ideas to revolve around consumer mobile apps, enterprise apps targeting global customers, VR and AI, although we're open-minded.
Application Deadline: October 28, 2016
Exponent Labs Batch I - November '16 to January '17 in Beijing
The standard deal for participants will be $20,000 USD (or the equivalent in RMB) for 7% equity.
Company / team name:
For each founder - name / age / year / school / degree / subject / employer and title:
What is your company making, or going to make? Ok to state "no idea" if you're applying with no specific idea:
What interesting things have you built as a team before?
How long have the founders known one another and how did you meet? Why did you decide to work together?
Describe a time one of you successfully "hacked" a system to your advantage:
Please describe the breakdown of the equity ownership in percentages among the founders, employees and any other stockholders:
How would you describe your idea in 10 words or less?
What is the problem you're solving, and why are you working on it?
How did you come up with the idea?
How will you make money?
How far along are you? Do you have revenue?
How will you get (more) users or customers?
What's new about what you're doing?
Are you open to changing your idea?
How did you hear about Exponent Labs?
Email to above to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject "[Exponent Labs Application] - COMPANYNAME"
[Note: The above questions obviously inspired by YC's application questions.]