Three Reasons Why You Should Work For A Startup in China

“Working in a startup provides me with the flexibility to manage my own time. There is almost no workplace hierarchy and the environment here is lively and fun, and I can always joke around with my colleagues. I feel that working with a startup also forces me to be more proactive and to constantly look for ways to contribute to the company

– Amber, intern at TravelFlan, a travel and AI startup

Amber’s experience is similar to many people who have spent time at a startup. They discover an environment to work and grow in that’s vastly different from larger companies. The pace of present-day China adds another exciting dimension, creating a unique atmosphere for entrepreneurship. So, whether you are seeking an internship or a full-time job, consider taking a closer look at the amazing startup world here in China. 

Still need more convincing? Here are the three big reasons why you should work for a startup in China:

1. Dynamic roles with room to grow

In a startup, your role evolves as fast as your company does. Someone hired to do marketing becomes a business development manager. Another person hired to do UX design ends up working on data analysis. This is natural. As a startup grows, its needs change, and this opens up opportunities to grow your skill set in directions you might not have imagined yet.

Let’s compare roles in a startup to those in a large corporation. The bigger a company gets, the more its workers need to be specialized. As a result, roles are split into smaller and smaller pieces. This is done to increase efficiency, and it makes each day’s tasks more predictable, but it also allows for less creative freedom, and there’s a chance that you’ll be doing more of the same work day after day.

In a team with a single-digit number of people, such specialization isn’t possible. Working in a startup, you’ll be asked to take on new responsibilities. You might even be pushed out of your comfort zone. But this will lead to new chances for personal and professional growth that are hard to find in other working environments. And while you’re at it, you’ll be making a meaningful impact on your company. 

Let’s dwell on that last point, and compare again with working at a larger outfit. In a big company, paths for advancement are fixed, clear, and slow. When there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of employees, there needs to be a clear hierarchy, with managers, middle-managers, and so on. It may take years for a new hire to advance to a position where she or he can make a meaningful impact on company strategy.

The startup world is different. See something that can be done? Back your hypothesis up with evidence, talk with the CEO about your plan, and there’s a good chance that she or he will give you the chance to make it work. In such a small team, each employee’s impact is magnified. 

On the one hand, this means that you can’t hide your work. There’s no one to pick up your slack, and if a task is your responsibility, you need to get it done or you might hold up the entire team. 

But for people who thrive under these high-responsibility, high-impact conditions, working at a startup is a great fit. In this fast-paced, dynamic environment, you can be sure that your work will be recognized, and you’ll be able to see the effect that it has on both co-workers and clients. 

2. Close-knit teams driven by mutual goals

Brainstorming sessions where the possibilities are so numerous, you lose track of time. Late nights working out the last kinks in an app update you are about to launch. Hitting your user acquisition goal, and going out with your co-workers to celebrate with Tsingtao beers and Sichuan snacks. 

Moments like this comprise the ups and downs of startup life. Being an entrepreneur is a full-time job, and then more. It might not be the best vocation for people who value having a clear division between their work life and their personal life. But for many people, their startup coworkers become like family. Working day in and day out in a small team undoubtedly has its stressors, but it also brings a team together. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a group of coworkers who share the same mindset as you. People who work in startups tend to be daring, innovative, adventurous, creative, and ambitious. Most importantly, they work where they work because they believe in their company’s mission, and see the promise and potential impact of what they do

Of course that’s not to say that working in an established company can’t offer you a strong sense of purpose. What makes startups different, though, is that completing the company’s mission means solving a problem that no one has solved yet. 

Just take a look at a couple of the startups in China solving real problems: 

The CareVoice helps people navigate the national health care system in China. Their algorithm matches people’s healthcare needs with the environment they are in. When people have trustworthy information about their healthcare choices, they are more likely to get the health services they need. And their product is starting to take off: The CareVoice secured $10 million USD in funding earlier this year. 

Another health industry company, AwB Health 惜安健康, promotes workplace wellness. In China, the well-being of employees isn’t always the boss’s top priority, and much has already been said about the 996 work culture that has employees on the clock from 9am to 9pm, six days a week. AwB’s platform aims to combat this, by assisting employees in building healthy work and life habits.

3. China speed!

Startups move fast everywhere in the world. Good ones are constantly testing their ideas, overthrowing old assumptions, and altering their plans. They might even pivot to a new business model when they discover an opening in the market. This speed and flexibility is part of what makes the startup world so exciting. 

However, startups in China move especially fast. In his interview with NBC’s Richard Engel SOSV General Partner and Chinaccelerator Managing Director William Bao Bean summed it up: 

“One month [in China] is like six months or a year anywhere else. Things move extremely quickly.” 

This is one of the main reasons why more and more foreign startups are coming to China. Some see opportunities to learn from the flexibility of local businesses. Others choose to set up their operations in China, and to tailor their product to the large and tech-savvy Chinese market. Once here, they find an increasingly international and efficient workforce, capable of bringing products to market with impressive speed. These factors make cities like Shanghai or Shenzhen natural incubators for startups. 

China speed also has to do with Chinese internet users. China FinTech expert and author of “Innovation Lab Excellence” Richard Turrin has pointed out that in China, both companies and people develop and adopt new technologies at an astonishing rate—they are “some of the best users of technology on the planet.” 

From being the world-leader in mobile payments adoption to the recent explosion of Wechat Mini Programs, Chinese internet users have shown their willingness to try new technologies and digitize their lives. With this huge user base, and plenty of eager early adopters, there is room for software startups to grow fast if they find the right niche. 

Fast companies, fast market, fast users. For entrepreneurs, it’s an exciting mix!

Blog written by Matthew Wu, PR & Communications Manager at Chinaccelerator.

If you are interested in finding a job or an internship in a startup, Chinaccelerator and Chinaccelerator portfolio companies are usually hiring. You can find open positions on our jobs page, or you can contact our HR Manager Maggie Ye at maggie.ye@sosv.com.

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