Leading the Innovation Path for Start-ups
Written by Seamon Chan, Co-founder & Board Member of Lair East Labs
I am excited to finish recruiting startups for the second batch of Lair East Labs. We started Lair East Labs believing that innovation can happen anywhere with a global convergence of technology, so it is important to help startups build relationships in the two largest economies. Talking to Lee about this, he wanted to bring back the early days of YC where there were fewer companies and a more intimate culture of support mentorship. Adding Yipeng’s track record as an investor and operator in China and Jennifer’s previous accelerator experience and cross-border work, we kickstarted the first batch in summer of 2017 with 4 companies. We organized weekly dinners in New York with speakers who are experienced startup founders and operators sharing their experience with growth hacking, hiring, raising capital, etc. The New York part of the program culminated in a prototype feedback day where the startups presented to local investors and investors visiting from China.
Afterwards, we organized all four companies to visit China for 3 weeks. We set up shop in our partner co-working space in Inncube in Sanlitun Beijing where we practiced pitching to local investors. We organized events in Hong Kong and Beijing where the participants got to meet more local founders and investors. The Hong Kong event was at my friend’s restaurant Ammo. My favorite part was bringing our startups to meet with a Co-Founder of Tencent, where he told stories about the early days of building products at the company. We organized a pitch event at Inncube where local investors came to attend.
Here at Lair East Labs, we try our best to connect our portfolio companies with the top founders, potential customers, partners, and investors in both the US and China. China is leading the world in terms of consumer fin tech, marketplaces, hardware, and the sharing economy. Now it is also leading in terms of blockchain where you have some of the largest mining activity happening there. The success of our supply chain finance blockchain company, Eximchain, in the first batch has inspired us to look for more blockchain companies to participate in our program, especially ones with blockchain-based applications with the potential to transform industries. There is a lot of vaporware in the space, but we are looking for teams who are looking to build blockchain products in the long run. Eximchain has been working on blockchain for over 3 years, and after the accelerator program, they have been able to successfully close a round of funding. We are also looking for interesting models in China to bring to the US and vice versa since the cross-pollination of innovation is happening both ways.
I work with the founders and executives at some of the largest technology companies in China through my venture capital and growth equity fund Palm Drive Capital and we are always looking to find ways to drive cross-border knowledge exchange, partnerships, and investments. The success of our portfolio company WeLab that my partner Hendrick seeded and Big One Labs that we incubated last year was an inspiration for Lair East Labs. We organize public events through NYCCEO and smaller invite-only events through Lair East Labs and Palm Drive Capital. We think the best way to build a global company is to work with the best people in the two largest economies in the world.
If you are working on something interesting that we could help using our network in US and China, we would love to talk to you!
- Seamon Chan