Marc van der Chijs

Marc van der Chijs might be a serial entrepreneur in Shanghai, the co-founder of the successful video hosting firm Tudou, but China is nowadays not offering the climate a start-up company needs, he tells in “If I set up a business today, it won’t be in China,” he says.


Firmly entrenched in the Avoid China camp is Marc van der Chijs, who, ironically enough, is the founder of Tudou, the second most popular video sharing site in China. It was recently bought over by Youku.

“There are less opportunities in China these days; the environment is not so positive anymore,” he says at the sidelines of DEMO Asia in Singapore, “I’ve been there for 12 years, had a great time. I still love the country. But doing business as a foreigner has become more difficult.”

He reached this conclusion after starting a new business called unitedstyles, a site that allow users to design, share and buy their own fashion.

They needed to hire a lot of foreign designers, but it was getting hard to woo these people and bring them into China.

“Getting a visa was impossible,” he says. There’s a maximum number of visas a startup can apply for, as the government wants more local talent to be hired.

But getting competent local staff who know social media and can speak excellent English is hard. Marc couldn’t find them.

Another challenge was finding Venture Capitalists with a global outlook. If you’re an entrepreneur based in China who wants to serve a global market, securing funding might be a challenge.

“When I talk to Chinese VCs, they want to focus on the Chinese market. That’s the only market they know” he says.

But while the golden age for foreign entrepreneurs in China has long past, Marc believes that businesses focusing solely on China still have a decent shot at success. Given how large the market is, startups don’t have to look outwards to succeed.

For now, Marc has decided to relocate part of unitedstyles elsewhere. He cites Singapore as a possible location.

“If I set up a business today, it won’t be in China,” he says.

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Marc van der Chijs is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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