Is China lagging in innovations? Certainly not when it comes to ecommerce, says William Bao Bean, managing director of Chinaccelerator, in TechinAsia. “If you can get ahold of Facebook’s product roadmap, it’s a giant WeChat clone,” he says.
“If you can get ahold of Facebook’s product roadmap, it’s a giant WeChat clone,” says William Bao Bean. “China is behind in a lot of different areas, but one area where it’s ahead is in social content-driven commerce.”
As managing director of Chinaccelerator, one of the country’s most prestigious startup accelerators, it’s William’s job to spot trends that can be exploited by budding new companies. One of the most important of those trends has been the rise of WeChat – not just as a messaging app, but as a place where people shop online…
“In China – in the past, at least – it didn’t generally matter how great your product was,” says WIlliam. “What mattered was who your friends are and how much money you raised.”
Traditionally, a tremendous amount of startup investment in China has gone directly to user acquisition: advertising, promotions, and the like. But with WeChat-based services, it’s more important – and cheaper – to focus on content with hopes of it going viral on the network.
“It’s a big change. With WeChat, you can do a traditional US-style internet company in China,” says William, noting that many American companies focus on making shareable content, rather than simply pushing out expensive ads. “For the first time, good content and a great product have a chance.”
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