Inside Beijing’s startup scene: TechTemple nutures up-and-coming Chinese startups

Beijing Skyline

See the original article in Japanese from last month

Among the eight startups who pitched at a recent event at Beijing’s Tech Temple, the following four startups provide all provide really interesting mobile solutions. Considering Xiaomi’s recent growth, and I came away with the impression that it could be Chinese startups like these that step to the fore on the the world stage.



Appbyme is a cloud platform for the development smartphone apps, targeting beginner developers. In the US, there are similar services like as Invision and Flinto that help users prototype smartphone apps. Not just with prototyping, Appbyme helps users until they complete developing an app and even monetizing from that.

In China, many people operate Bulletin Board Sites (BBSs) using content management systems like Discuz, PHPwind and WordPress. Those BBS already have regular users, and if their operators produce an app, then naturally that app can pick up quite a few users as well. And with Appbyme, such users can create an app simply by choosing a template. Many features such as push-notification, location-based gaming, social media sharing, or group-buying can be easily added to the app.

Zhao Jian, CEO of AppByMe

Before founding Appbyme, CEO Zhao Jian worked as the technical officer of Yicha, a mobile search engine in China. He feels that it is getting more difficult to search for content as more services assume the form of a mobile apps. His vision is to make a better structure for content search on mobiles.

In this field, there are competitors already out there in China like AppCan and Zhuixin. But when it comes to the number of users and apps, Appbyme stands out. To date, 5400 webmasters are registered on Appbyme, and more than 50,000 apps have been released. The business model is based on a revenue share with developers and advertisers, charging bigger developers for a subscription.

The BBS community in China is very active, especially in cities. According to Zhao, local portal sites are popular, and they have their own business potential, the kind you cannot see for sites in larger, central cities. Appbyme hopes to take advantage of such local opportunities.

The company also plans to make the English, Japanese, and Korean versions so that it can expand overseas.



SayHi is a worldwide dating app with daily active amounting to about 650,000. It has many users in Middle Eastern countries and in Asia as well. Even though the app is developed in China, the service is not being provided there.

On SayHi, users can find other users nearby through GPS and then chat with them. But you need points to chat other members. For example, when a male user wants to chat with a popular female user, he has to pay one point for an hour. If you become a VIP member for a 6000 yen monthly fee, you can chat as much as you want.

According to Shi Yan, the CEO of Easyroid, the company has apps on iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. He says that 29% of their sales comes from Japanese market.

Shi Yan pitches SayHi

In China, there are other popular messenger apps with similar features, including Momo and iAround. Globally, Badoo and Skout are doing well. SayHi plans to add more entertainment and game features in the app in order to differentiate from competitors.


vWorld’s CEO Gao Song once worked as the chief officer of Shangshuixuan Studio, the game department of Kingsoft (HKG:3888). Gao says that the number of smartphone users in China amounts to 354 million, and most are either students or white-collar workers. There are some common characteristics among them:

  • Since they literally grew up with games, they care much about the quality of games.
  • They are used to sharing content on social media.
  • They are keenly competitive.

vWorld is a game app where users compete to conquer actual places. It’s a bit different from Foursquare, where users become the mayor of a location by accumulating check-in points. On vWorld, one can become the leader of a location if they win a game against other users.

The company wants to create a user experience where once users conquer various locations in a city that they would actually be motivated to move on to a different city. The app uses GPS to find the actual location using Autonavi’s API.

vWorld CEO, Gao Song

App Annie

App Annie is an analytics platform that tracks downloads of mobile apps, and it’s a service we frequently reference here at The Bridge. You can easily get statistical information about iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Mac apps, giving you a good idea of which apps are popular in which market, popular and which ones are earning revenue.

App Annie has its headquarters in Beijing, but according to CEO Bertrand Schmitt, the company has 130 staff spanning across six cities. In September of 2013, the company raised $15 million in its series C round from Sequoia Capital, IDG Capital Partners, Greycroft Partners and Infinity Venture Partners.

App Annie CEO Bertrant Schmitt

Bertrant shared his insights into the recent trend of mobile apps in the world. For instance, while the iOS AppStore has been growing in China, Google Play has seen remarkable growth in the other BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia and India). When it comes to the revenue, the big money comes mostly from advanced countries, with Android doing especially well are in the US and Japan. For the Japanese market, sales on Android and iOS are relatively well balanced [1].

App Annie Index

For app developers, if you don’t know how your apps are selling in certain markets, you cannot develop a strategy for your development and design. But by using the market data available on App Annie and by utilizing other growth hacking tools, developers can determine how to make a successful app much more efficiently than before.

App Annie publishes infographic overviews of some of their statistics.In this way, the site can attract future customers, offering more detailed data to user who pay for premium accounts. Many news media who struggle with monetization can learn much from this business model.

We will look at more Chinese startups in our next article, and examine some of the major internet trends among companies in China.

Tech Temple

Many people in the Beijng startup community get together at this party. The entrepreneurs and investors I often meet in Beijing were all there. Even though it was soon after the facility opened, the place seemed to be quite well known in Beijing already.

The corner of the reception and the cafe. The coffee was incredible.

TechTemple is on the first and the second floor of the Tianhai Business Building in Beixinqiao, Beijing.

  1. According to figures from September of 2013.  ↩