The Chinese startup competition with 2.5MĀ entrants

By Matthew Canham

Coming from a small country like New Zealand, we often hear of the scale that is possible in overseas markets. Perhaps one of the most frequently cited examples of this is China. Home to nearly 1.4 billion people and the world’s second largest economy (by nominal GDP), China is held up as a shining example of an economy that demands and delivers exceptional scale.

Geemo was invited to China to compete in the China College Students’ “Internet Plus” Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition has a total of 2.5 million (yes, million) domestic entrants and boasts over 500,000 unique ventures. Try that for scale.

The 2018 finals of the competition were held at Xiamen University in China’s Fujian province

On top of the staggering number of domestic entrants the competition organisers fly in 120 teams from around the globe to participate in the competition. International entrants were selected from the thousands who applied. This is where Geemo came into the picture.

The obligatory photo with the life-sized competition mascot

In October 2018 we were flown to Xiamen University in China’s Fujian Province, the location of the competition’s final round. We delivered a 10 minute pitch to a panel of five international judges. Our pitch was also live-streamed to a wider audience.

Ultimately, we walked away with a silver award. That doesn’t mean we won second place. In fact we are not entirely sure what a silver award signifies, our best guess is that it means we were in the top 60 teams overall. More valuable than any award or recognition though was the appreciation that we gained for the true scale of China. We learned a lot about what it would take for Geemo to enter a market such as China and met some key people who might help us do just that.

The finals of the competition were combined with an on-stage spectacle worthy of an Olympic opening ceremony. Attended by over 2000 people and broadcast on national television, this was extraordinary to witness.

Every so often an opportunity arrises that completely shakes up the way that you approach problems and opens up your thinking. Our short trip to China did just this and Geemo is a better company because of it.

The grand final of the China College Students’ “Internet Plus” Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition