Silicon Valley News

Saturday, June 1, 2013

China's Silicon Valley connection growing

Stanford grads Tarun Pondicherry, left, and Josh Chan, founders of startup LightUp.

There is a growing relationship between startups in China and Silicon Valley.

For example, China has become the third-largest source of downloads for the popular Silicon Valley-based Flipboard app.

Evernote, the hot Redwood City-based startup,  gained some four million customers for its personal organization app in its first year in China.

The startup scene in China has strong ties to Silicon Valley. Four startups that have recently found success in China are evidence of this new trend, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

TrustGo Mobile, a Silicon Valley mobile security startup, did its research and development in China but established itself in Santa Clara with backing from the U.S.-China incubator base there called InnoSpring. "People outside of China will accept an American security solution, but not one from China," explained CEO Xuyang Li.

InnoSpring and another Chinese incubator, Hanhai, just celebrated their first year in Silicon Valley. Victor Wang, president of Hanhai Investment, regularly makes trips to China to introduce Silicon Valley startups to potential partners.

Frank Wang, Steve Gu and Shangpin Chang founded several companies in the Bay Area before starting their latest, Dew Mobile, in Beijing. Dew Mobile software allows devices that are within about 30 feet to share games or content without having to rely on Wi-Fi or other networks.

LightUp is a startup founded by Stanford grads Josh Chan and Tarun Pondicherry. Chan recently returned from a trip to Shenzhen organized by Haxir8r, a new Chinese incubator that has mentors in the South China city and San Francisco.

"I could design a part and have it delivered in an hour in Shenzhen. The ecosystem is amazing and that's attracted everyone from startups like us to giants like Apple," said Chan.

LightUp makes an education kit that teaches children the basics of building electronic devices.

Startup Empower Micro has developed a new inverter that converts DC power from solar panels and electric car batteries into AC power suitable for home and commercial use.

"Sand Hill Road is virtually closed to clean tech today," says Empower's  Mika Nuotio. "People in China are very interested in what we have."

The idea for another startup, Waygo Visual Translator, was conceived by Ryan Rogowski while working in Beijing for an iPhone software development company.

The Waygo app could allow tourists in China to point their smartphone at a street sign or menu and have the characters instantly translated.

Rogowski came back to the U.S. and co-founded Translate Abroad to develop the Waygo app. "There are a number of good engineers in China at a lower cost but most people capable of innovative, cutting- edge research and development are here in the U.S., particularly in Silicon Valley," Rogowski said. "The algorithms we are building aren't trivial and we needed to be here to find the talent for that."

He eventually wants to introduce Waygo to the Chinese market.