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Zhongguancun InnoWay: Where startup dreams sail off

2015-01-20 16:28 Ecns.cn Web Editor: Qian Ruisha


(ECNS) - The InnoWay, located next to Beijing's largest IT and electronics market in Zhongguancun, has become a place where startup dreams sail off.

The street, stretching for roughly 650 feet, is home to a dozen incubators, 360 startup companies, and hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the country seeking to turn their ideas into businesses.

Carrying their laptops, young people come and order $3 coffees at the Garage Café, a café-themed incubator, and spend their day developing products, pitching potential investors or talking with other teams. Some even bring their pillows and crash on the sofa at night.

Kevin Xiao, a 24-year-old Columbia graduate, is developing an open source social platform called Aoaodadao, or Master Owl, for students interested in studying abroad. His three teammates are all in their twenties.

"We get here around 8:30 am and spend the day here. It's a good open place with a very entrepreneurial environment, and offers good resources. I get information, recommendations and inspirations from mentors here."

Hayashi Kimi Tami, 77, a robot expert born in Taiwan who grew up in Japan, started coming to Garage last summer.

"Making robots is my hobby. After my retirement, I came here to help a team of young people make robots that could serve the elderly. For example, if a person gets old and can't walk anymore, the robot could help."

Apart from café-themed incubators, financing platforms such as VC.cn and Angel Crunch are dedicated to connecting startups with investment money. By December 2014, of all the 360 startups on the street, 150 had got investments of about $1 million on average.

Although dubbed China's "Silicon Valley," Zhongguancun has been considered more of a go-to market for tech gadgets, or even an outlet for cheap fakes. Now, with government support, talents from nearby universities, and innovation hubs like the InnoWay, money and ideas are set to fuel the next startup peak.

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