The feeling of last night’s VIP panel discussion was very much one of consensus on the painful and progressive elements of China’s mobile Internet industry. Altogether, four panelists – David Chun GM of Tapjoy, Paul Chen GM of Rovio China, Atul Satija VP of InMobi, and Luo Chuan CEO of AppChina – gave an account of their thoughts behind entering China and their ideas for the future.
One idea that was a common sentiment for all was a sense of China as a very distinctive case in business, given the incredible size of the country. Atul Satija and Paul Chen both made the point that in order to succeed, startups should avoid distractions at all costs, since there are too many outlets in China to be handled at once. As an entrepreneur, therefore, it takes a form of willpower to simply avoid getting lost chasing opportunities.
There were also structural ideas that needed to be considered. Luo Chuan, the only Chinese-based panelist, warned listeners about the challenges of networks in China. According to him, the regulatory environment is complex, and there are a wealth of standards on 2G, 3G, and Wifi, with which one must familiarize.
Additionally, there were some cultural elements discussed. Paul Chen of Rovio, for instance, claimed that one of the most important focuses for the Angry Birds franchise was to “be more Chinese than the Chinese.” By creating applications packed with cultural references, Rovio was able to stay ahead of the curve and also ahead of Chinese copies. In an odd sense then, copycats could be seen as a type of competition unseen in other countries, pushing entrepreneurs even further to set themselves apart and to maintain value.
It should prove to be a thought-provoking discussion these next two days as other panelists and speakers come to exchange their views. We look forward to hearing more.