Giving startups a leg up in China
“Canada is at the top of the list of countries friendly with China. All entrepreneurs and investors in China think Canadian companies are the best partners in the world.”
When Liu Zhishuo, founder and president of China Canada Angels Alliance (CCAA), expressed those sentiments at the inaugural ceremony of China Angels Mentorship Program (CAMP) on Tuesday at 2015 Discovery in Toronto, he won a round of enthusiastic applause.
As a partnership between Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and CCAA, CAMP is a virtual incubation program that enables approved Ontario start-ups to be matched with investors, potential partners and mentors in and from China to give companies an edge on breaking into the Chinese market.
“The market is too fast today,” said Tom Corr, president and CEO of OCE. “Tapping into China’s business sector in this way brings about enormous potential for Ontario companies and builds on OCE’s successful national and international partnership portfolio which includes organizations from China, Korea, Quebec and Alberta.”
OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario’s industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, domestic and foreign investors, and government ministries.
“We offer start-up companies insider mentorship and the knowledge to adapt to the Chinese market,” said Liu. “They can get a share of the market right away.”
Registered in Toronto 2014, CCAA is a Canadian not-for-profit angel group certified by corporate members of the Network of Angel Organizations-Ontario and National Angel Capital Organization.
“CCAA has been working very hard in Ontario’s early stage innovation eco-system for almost two years,” Liu continued. “We know there are significant opportunities and we know technology companies appreciate the vital importance of embracing the Chinese market like never before.”
According to Liu, the CCAA represents 28 prominent and resourceful angel investors mostly from China and 11 private institutions and funds from China as of April 2015.
“CAMP is an opportunity to help Canadian companies who want to develop in China to breakdown the barriers between the two markets,” said Randall Howard, Angel of Canada 2014 and general partner at Verdexus Capital.
“We have been working with CCAA for some time,” said Jesse Moeinifar, co-founder and CEO of Viafoura. “They provide very unique strategies in different ways of getting us exposure and popularity in the Asian region to achieve the success we’re looking for.”
The partnership signing ceremony, which included a plaque unveiling, took place Tuesday at OCE’s 10th annual Discovery conference and kick-started the pilot phase of the CAMP program.
The venture will begin with a selection of 10 Ontario start-ups obtaining investment and mentorship opportunities from prominent Chinese angels.
These entrepreneurs will then spend the next year building a relationship in both Ontario and China with the investors and learning how to adapt their business plans towards successfully entering the Chinese market. As part of the mentorship experience, the companies will travel to China to work with their investors, giving them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Chinese culture.
Tom Corr (second from left), president and CEO of Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), is joined by Liu Zhishuo (right), founder and president of the China Canada Angels Alliance (CCAA), and members of CCAA at the launch of the China Angels Mentorship Program on Tuesday during 2015 Discovery in Toronto.