Whether you’re interested in doing business in China or just want to learn about what’s going on in the tech world over there, these startups are worth checking out.
There’s no question that China is a hotbed for tech startups. With its large population and growing economy, there are plenty of opportunities for new businesses to flourish. If you’re thinking of starting a tech company, or you’re just curious about the most prominent Chinese startups, you’ll want to read on. This list includes some of the most innovative and successful companies in China that you need to know about.
Founded by Lei Jun in 2010, Xiaomi is China’s largest smartphone manufacturer. Xiaomi is well-known for its low-cost, high-quality smartphones, and has seen considerable success in China and other Asian markets. Today, the corporation offers far more than just phones—it also develops its mobile apps, wearables, household appliances and home automation gadgets. The firm operates in over 100 countries and regions and was named the world’s most valuable tech startup in 2014. According to Kantar BrandZ, Xiaomi is presently ranked 70th among the Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands in 2021.
You may not be familiar with the name ByteDance, but its subsidiary TikTok is no doubt a household brand throughout the world. ByteDance is a China-based internet technology business founded by entrepreneurs Zhang Yiming and Liang Rubo. It became the world’s biggest unicorn in 2020, with a total worth of US$140 billion, and its market valuation has since increased to a whopping US$425 billion. The company also has a suite of goods and services, including Douyin, Xigua Video (in China), Helo (in India) and Lark (in Japan and Singapore). Bytedance’s multimedia platforms have 1.9 billion active monthly users across all platforms.
Yuanfudao is a Chinese homework tutoring app founded in 2012. The educational technology (EdTech) company offers a host of online learning services in the K12 segment (kindergarten to 12th grade). These include live tutoring platform Yuanfudao, English tutoring app Zebra AI Class, online question bank Yuantiku, question searching app Xiaoyuan Souti and mathematics problem checking app Xiaoyuan Kousuan, among others.
The EdTech company is backed by Yunfeng Capital (Jack Ma’s private equity investment firm), China Media Capital, Warburg Pincus and 14 other investors. With US$2.2 billion in funding, Yuanfudao became the world’s largest EdTech startup unicorn in 2020, overtaking Indian EdTtech startup Byju.
WeRide, founded in 2017 and located in Guangzhou and California, is one of the top firms developing Level 4 autonomous driving technology, giving smart cities innovative products, new business models and experiences. WeRide has a range of products mix of Robotaxi, Mini Robobus and Robovan. Their products deliver different services, such as online ride-hailing, on-demand transport and urban logistics, through strategic relationships with automobile manufacturers and mobility and logistics service platforms. In November 2019, the startup established China’s first Robotaxi service, which was accessible to the public in Guangzhou, encompassing an area of 144 square kilometers.
WeRide has also received investments from top-tier global manufacturers, including the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and Yutong Group.
Founded by Yuanhai Li in 2007, JD Logistics is the tech-driven supply chain and logistics service provider of the Chinese e-commerce company JD.com. JD Logistics provides a full suite of logistics services, including warehousing, shipping and last-mile delivery (the transportation of a good from a distribution center to the final destination). The company has 30 fulfillment centers across China, and it also operates its own fleet of trucks and delivery vehicles.
To meet the surging e-commerce demand during the pandemic, JD Logistics is investing RMB 9 billion (US$1.42 billion) in domestic courier operator Deppon Holdco for a 99.99% equity stake.
This Chinese tech startup has proven that if you are devoted and focused on your goal, you can achieve success even in difficult circumstances. The U.S. has banned the commercial purchase and use of DJI’s products as well as the trading of its shares for national security reasons. Yet, it was reported that DJI’s drones are still being used by the U.S. military. Despite accusations of espionage, DJI is still standing strong and continues to lead the industry.
Today, DJI is the world’s largest drone manufacturer and has been the leading seller of drones worldwide since 2016. Besides drones, it also manufactures other photography equipment, like camera stabilizers, action cameras and camera gimbals. Founded in 2006 by Frank Wang, DJI dominates over 70% of the global consumer drone industry as of March 2020. Individuals, enterprises and government entities utilize the company’s products for a variety of purposes, including photography, filmmaking, search and rescue and mapping.
Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, DJI maintains offices in the U.S., the Netherlands, Korea, Japan and Germany. The Chinese drone company was valued at US$15 billion in 2015 and was considered a “global disruptor” by Forbes magazine in 2019.
Baidu, dubbed “China’s Google”, is the world’s sixth-biggest search engine. As Google is banned in mainland China, Baidu dominates 78 percent of the Chinese search engine market. Founded in 2000 by Robin Li and Eric Xu, Baidu now boasts over 700 million monthly active users. Baidu is also one of the largest AI companies in the world that has been working on groundbreaking AI projects. To help combat the pandemic, its AI team released a tool called LinearFold, which analyzes the structure of the COVID-19 virus at a much faster speed and predicts the virus’s secondary structural changes. Along with other tech giants, like Alibaba and Tencent, the company has helped the country place itself on the global tech map while simultaneously strengthening its economy.
Tech startups in China are quickly gaining popularity for their innovative products and services. These companies are changing the world, and they are certainly on their way to achieving more impressive milestones in the years to come. If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest trends in Chinese technology, be sure to add these companies to your radar.
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