Judy Zhu
Judy Zhu
Sep 10, 2016 · 3 min read

Entrepreneur incubator in China: Y Combinator and Hupan University

At Y Combinator, Paul Graham talk a lot about Airbnb. How they sold cereal boxes to keep running Airbnb, how this inspire other start-ups at YC. And determination is the key for YC to select the best hackers and support them. 2015, Ma Yun, the big boss of Chinese E-commerce Alibaba, has his own start-up camp, or he calls it Hupan University.

Started on March 27, 2015, hupan university got its big name. It was located at the West Lake of Hangzhou to show its unique statue. West Lake is not only the Cultural Landscape of the city but also has the most expensive real estate price. The founder of Hupan is pretty much the most influential leader of the high-tech industry in China, this makes the Hupan University more like a club or association rather than a seed accelerator. Here is the list of the boarder of director.

To get in these two places is pretty much the same process. You submit an application on the team and project, and wait till the interview. If you got accepted, then they service provided by them will land on you. But, Hupan needs two more things, 1) a letter of recommendation from one of the member of the board 2) $40,000 one-year tuition. This makes the applicants number way smaller than the YC. In Y Combinator, 100+ cases will be reviewed by a peer. After the better ones got selected, the team got 10 minutes to preach its idea to the judge at the interview. In Hupan, 150 applicants are reviewed by the board, and 30 will be selected.

For Y Combinator, they reviewed the team as a whole but not only the leader. Strikingly, a companies started by three Chinese, is the first team got accepted by YC. By the time they got admitted, they are three young man with an idea. At Y Combinator, they launched their first product, a website builder that allows the user, with little or no development experience, to create mobile optimized websites “within minutes”. They got good sales after they got reported as one of the successful seed companies got accelerated by Y Combinator.

In 2016, the founder decided move the whole team to Shanghai, China and try to dig the market value there. However, they won’t be admitted by Hupan, because they under a team of 30 and wasn’t established longer than three years. In Hupan, the board doesn’t value hacker that much.

Hupan University more about mentoring and apprenticeship. At the admission process, a referral letter is important, this means networking is a key to get in the program. At the camp, these founder will be trained for five days by different lectures and activities, and then after months, another five days followed. This will last one year before the graduation.

Andora Huang speaking at Y combinator

The resource Hupan got is not only the tech, but also traditional industries, such as real estate, department store, universities. This is also a reflection of Chinese business practice — who you know is more important than who you are. The innovation of American could not be seen on Chinese business world, because a good idea and hard work are not enough to get success.

2016, hupan got its second alumni, with the portion of high tech companies goes from 60% to 30%, others are come from Entertainment, real estate, manufacturing, dinning industry, health. And another thing to notices about is, among these high-tech companies, most of them received investment from Albiaba, like 58.com, changba.com, yiguo.com, mxchip.com. At the BAT battlefield, Hupan alumni is going to be another influencial power of Alibaba.