Barnett Strategies talks China at Silicon Dragon Valley 2019

On January 24, Chris traveled to San Mateo, California, to take part in Silicon Dragon’s forum on U.S. startups in China. Here are some highlights from the wide-ranging conversation:

  • Businesses entering the Chinese market should do so boldly, Chris said: “The number-one way to fail is to have a wait-and-see, ‘let’s get an enabling customer before we commit’ strategy. That’s never going to work. You’ve got to make the commitment first.” Ric Kostick, the founder & CEO of Purity Cosmetics, added that a local presence and flexibility are musts for doing business in China.
  • Chris shared his “transformation plan,” which guided EyeVerify’s entry into China: “It’s a combination of a bunch of little things that sound really trivial: Do we have business cards in Chinese? Do we have people who speak Chinese? Do we answer the phone at one in the morning when someone from China calls, or do we make them wait?”
  • While discussing issues of intellectual property in China with John Foster, co-founder & CEO of Aiqudo, and Gene Banman, CEO of DriveScale, Chris encouraged businesses to dive in without fear: “By going in and gauging and doing a deal and getting licensed, at least you have a piece of paper that says they can’t reverse engineer, whereas if you stay home because you’re afraid, you’ve actually got zero protection.”
  • Conversation turned toward the level of investment in China at a time of unsure trade relations. Chris’ thoughts? “Your weighting of your resources should really be equal U.S. and China, even though you’re here. Maybe it’s harder, it’s far away, but in terms of the opportunity, it should be an equal weighting.”

You can watch the entire discussion here. Thanks to Silicon Dragon founder Rebecca Fannin for the invitation, to Draper University for hosting at their inspiring Hero City business incubator space, and to all of the participants for energizing the event with their expertise and openness.