An Update on China’s Startup Landscape

Lessons from pitching in China and speaking with local founders and investors.

Lance Ng
2 min readSep 26, 2023

A few weeks ago I flew to Chengdu, China to take part in a startup competition and regional tech conference. Chengdu is the fifth largest city in China and home of the giant panda.

A historic city that played a key role in medieval China’s warring era, I decided to fly in early to spend a few days sightseeing. On the second day, aching from my city walks, I popped into a nice, classy massage place inside a mall.

The receptionist asked me if I had pre-paid online through “Meituan” (a popular Chinese e-commerce app) and made an appointment.

I said no. She explained that walk-in prices are significantly higher. I said it’s ok and that I would like to pay in cash. She blinked and stared for a while.

Since I spoke Chinese fluently, she probably didn’t realize I was a foreigner. I explained that to her and she started panicking.

They had no cash in the shop she said. In fact, they didn’t even have a POS system. Everything was pre-booked online and paid through a mobile wallet.

I was stuck.

This story has been moved to my Substack newsletter. Follow this link to continue reading…