China paradigm interviewed Matthieu Bodin and Adriana Verde Rios, Xnode international growth director and program director respectively, to discuss how their startup accelerator in China helps foreign startups in China to grow and to drive corporate innovation.
Matthieu Bodin, a true entrepreneurial enthusiast in China who both learns and teaches
Graduated from the ESSEC Business School with a bachelor’s degree in international management and the Peking University in Beijing, Matthieu has been in China since childhood. He is an entrepreneur at heart, has always been invested in associations or entrepreneurship companies.
Before arriving at Xnode in 2019 as the Growth Director, he led Techstars Startup Programs in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau where he identified, trained and coached Community Leaders locally for them to support the next generation of entrepreneurs in China. There he helped to recruit volunteers and to spread the power of entrepreneurship in China across tens of cities and helped 3,500 participants with their projects.
But his passion for entrepreneurship in China and start up management doesn’t stop there; Matthieu also used to be the Entrepreneur In Residence at the first WeWork Labs in China, where he helped the team to support their startup founders via mentoring and introductions.
He also gets involved in Startup Weekend, which are 54-hours events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers, and entrepreneurs come together to share ideas and launch startups. He is also one of the founding members of the famous La French Tech and other entrepreneurship associations in China.
Adriana Verde Rios, multicultural professional, innovation specialist
Adriana Verde Rios worked all over the world before moving to China as the Program Director at Xnode, the startup accelerator in China.
Graduated from the Institut national des sciences appliquées in Lyon and the Technische Universitat Munchen, she has a solid background in engineering and electricity. She has worked for the big names in the electricity industry in Italy, France, China, and Denmark, like Envision Energy for 2 years or Vestas. Used to innovation and disruption projects, she is now in charge of corporate innovation programs in China, mostly working with corporates. She is giving workshops, basically providing the tools and processes to achieve as much impact as possible for both corporates and startups in the shortest time as possible, and also supporting the growth of XNode with processes.
Xnode, a great solution for foreign startups in China
Xnode is a startup accelerator in China which supports startup founders, corporations, universities, and governments to innovate in a Chinese context. Xnode started in 2015 as a coworking space and has helped more than 400 local startups. On top of providing workspaces for entrepreneurs in China, they are also partnered with 10 international incubators to create a real community.
« Our goal is to be on the hunt for the right people, the right patterns, and the right ways of innovating in the Chinese context. »
XNode is now providing Corporate Innovation programs in China for tens of international corporations and foreign startups in China.
The most significant part of their business comes from the innovation programs in China, either to help businesses to enter China or to help the corporate to develop projects.
The process is simple: one program director runs each program, together with a few acceleration managers. These acceleration managers will work directly with the entrepreneurs to ensure they have a business model that is aligned with the objectives of the program and to help them achieve to create a proof of concept of a minimum viable product.
Where is the best place to grow for foreign startups in China?
According to Matthieu Bodin, Hong-Kong, Shanghai, and Macau are very different locations but all interesting for foreign startups in China.
«When I look at Hong Kong, I’m thinking of an amazing and incredible market to test something new. It’s a small market where it’s very easy to reach out to your customers, it’s extremely simple to raise some funding, and the legal system is simplified for you to operate at an early stage.»
The only issue of doing business in Hong-Kong is the relatively small market, only seven million. So acquiring new customers can become very expensive, and hiring dozens of developers is much harder than people can expect.
In his view, the Shanghai market is a very specific market, full of opportunities, even if your startup is targeting a niche market:
«You have a 22 to 24 million people city, very close to other exciting markets that are thriving. And it’s also the Chinese market, which means that every six months you need to start from another blank page and rediscover what people care about, how they consume, and this is absolutely incredible.»
And finally, when it comes to Macau, Matthieu Bodin underlines the novelty of this market, which is still focused on the hospitality industry but promises excellent opportunities for foreign startups in China in the next few years.
Listen to this episode here: