By Nina Huang
(Left: Shuo Zhang pitching to the judges)
How can start-up founders benefit from cross-border business between the U.S. and China and what are the challenges faced by tech founders in the U.S.? At the pitch night on May 8, a collaborative event China Institute hosted with cross-border incubator Lair East Labs, more than a dozen passionate creative souls presented their ideas to angel investors, VC partners, and tech founders who have experience both in the U.S. and China.
Each pitcher was capped three minutes to present ideas. There were super smart shoe insoles that monitor the discrepancy of body temperatures for preventive measures, shared cellphone chargers that make sure the embarrassing moment when your phone battery goes dead in the midst of a phone call never happens, and an educational venture that aims to coach Chinese writers to tell non-fiction stories in English, to name a few.
The winner and a $500 cash prize went to Shuo Zhang, whose technology-enhanced insurance company Mira makes life insurance more accessible for the higher risk population using big data and machine learning.
When asked what the challenges are for foreign startups trying to make it in the U.S. and China, judges shared their own experiences in the panel discussion before the pitch contest. The top challenge is cultural differences.
“One thing international founders need to get used to,” said Author Tu, one of the mentors at the Lair East Labs, “is to get used to the networking culture in the U.S., especially if you are an Asian.” While people tend to be connected through their family ties in China, in the U.S., it is important to get out there, network with clients and meet people.
Here at China Institute, connections are formed through programs and events that convene business leaders, art patrons, literature lovers and all like-minded individuals. Stay tuned for more interesting events!