The way its founder explains it, Tech Hive is about helping early stage startups get the three things they most need: people, money, and attention.
Andy Mok, an American-born Chinese (ABC), is a seasoned entrepreneur with a propensity for helping startups do business. Mok, who was involved with the first Startup Weekend in Seattle, started Beijing Tech Hive in 2010, after he was asked to set up Startup Weekend in China but the company ended up pulling out.
Tech Hive, a quarterly event, is a weekend workshop for entrepreneurs, a cross between a hackathon and a business planning competition. First, entrepreneurs get 2 minutes to pitch their ideas, then everybody votes for the five best ones. These get developed over the weekend in separate teams. On Sunday night, the five teams make a presentation to VC judges, who will then pick a winner. Usually there is a RMB 50,000 investment for the winning team.
Besides getting a chance to hammer out the problems that startups face, the weekend is also a chance for entrepreneurs to make valuable connections with investors including Chinaccelerator, Blue Run Ventures, Innovation Works, and 500 Startups. Beyond investors, Tech Hive also maintains a network of international companies, schools and other institutions with MetLife, Microsoft, Intel, and the Gates foundation among them.
Mok hopes Tech Hive will also give entrepreneurs a chance to meet people that they can add to their team after the weekend is over.
“The best way to find someone you want to work with is by actually working with them,” he says.
He aims to attract a good mix of developers, designers and project managers, with a balance of nationalities. The main criteria, says Mok, is a global vision.
One of Tech Hive’s biggest success stories is Apricot Forest, which was listed as one of Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in China last year. The founder, Yusheng Zhang, pitched his idea at a Tech Hive session in 2011, which led to VC investment from Blue Run Ventures and China Broadband. Mok also helped the company hire its CTO and head of product management.
Beijing Tech Hive has been running for over five years. With so many entrepreneurs going through the program, there must have startups who have failed as well. Mok says they’ve had people who go through the process and then find out they’re not ready for it at the end of the weekend.
“And that’s actually not a bad outcome either,” he says. “If you think about entrepreneurship as a means of personal growth, and a lifestyle choice, there are really no failures in that you do something that doesn’t work out. The question is then what do you do next.”
Tech Hive is an event organized by Mok’s company, Red Pagoda, which provides consulting and talent acquisition services for early stage and fast growing companies. It also invests in early stage TMT startups through an affiliation with Songyuan Capital.
The next Tech Hive weekend startup accelerator on March 19-20 is co-organized with Chinaccelerator. Read more from bjtechhive.com.