Bruno Bensaid, Co-Founder of Shanghaivest Ltd
China Connect: The Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) took place in Beijing April 28-30. As a VC, what are the key trends or shifts of this year’s Start-ups competitions and awards vs the previous years ?
Bruno Bensaid: Key trends are healthcare and related connected devices, in my opinion. Winner of G-startup is Wowo, a hand-massage device company, supposed to alleviate pains in other parts of the body. Typical Chinese approach to health, and great product too (I tried!). The mobile health track was very well attended. Third ranked in G-startup was Science MOM, an app for fertility and pregnancy “management”. Mobile health, again. A sign of time. Also, Education is always a winner (G-startup runner up, Babystep) and mobile education track was packed. I am also pleasantly surprised all the other winners of the G-startup competition were companies with a strong tech DNA (detecting emotions, analyzing data etc). to finish on some trends: Ad-tech has never been so pervasive (the Israeli pavilion is a testimony of this), but for how long? When startups and VCs stop subsidizing CPI (cost per install) marketing, where will all the small adtech players go? I am also slightly disappointed to not have seen more flying objects at the expo. Drones were supposed to be everywhere, but I did not see many.
China Connect: What do you think of Tencent launching an operating system for smartphones and smartwatches in a move to lure China’s growing legions of mobile users ?
Bruno Bensaid: I tweeted on this at length. This is huge, and a logical step for Tencent which DNA has always been mobile, but strayed out of the way to win the gaming market. Now they are back and deep in the OS. If a new company has a chance of succeeding in the hardware/software combination, it is probably Tencent. I am expecting great products coming out of the partners factories (Tencent won’t manufacture) with heavy subsidizing from Tencent, which has open the OS to developers from day one. Let’s hope the OS dev team @ Tencent will prove international enough and inject variety and diversity into the app offering (so far, their internationalization has been mainly monetary through large investments in the US or Israel, but I do not see any real cross-border product except, perhaps, wechat). Anyway, this OS will encompass virtual reality, gaming and other successful franchises and platforms used by Tencent, so let’s hope they also put enough resources, like Xiaomi did, to cover all these markets with competitively priced products (in my opinion, Huawei is the new guy to watch here, as they own the chipset and radio component as well, hence are able to launch great products in different verticals).
China Connect: As a regular attendee, what are your key take aways of this year GMIC edition ?
Bruno Bensaid: Connected devices and their apps + Israel as a tech nation with a growing China footprint (or vice-versa J) + healthcare/education in full force. Yes, this is belittling other great products and services that were launched or promoted at the event. Last but not least, it is the first time I see a VC firm actually renting a booth and promoting their portfolio companies. What VC company anywhere else in the world would do it? That would be great isn’t it? Kudos to former entrepreneur turned VC, Nick Yang, for speaking and manning the booth for LeBox Capital – featuring Ghost drones, among other things.
Check our coverage of GMIC 2015 for more insights on mobile apps, connected cars, neuromarketing, entrepreneurship and more