Excerpt: They were all at Wuzhen Summit and Expo last year

Few outside China has heard of Wuzhen Summit – however, inside China, it is the most prestigious tech conference. “Everyone who needs to be there is there,” says a Chinese internet tycoon and a long term friend of Momentum Works. 

Alongside the conferences and forums, a large item on the agenda for anyone visiting is obviously the expo – where the latest technologies, innovations, and internet-based business models are showcased. 

My colleague wrote about the gadgets and technologies we saw last year here, and here we try to share a bit more about the companies at the Expo in 2018 which were not yet famous then (outside China): 

1. Ping An Good Doctor

The one-stop healthcare platform was relatively unknown outside China until they announced a Joint Venture with Grab last year. In fact, the company completed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in May 2018. 

One of the offerings is this unmanned ‘1-min clinic’, which can provide consultation for more than 2000 common diseases. 

If you need an expert opinion, it can link you up with its in-house doctor online. 

If a drug you want is not available from the vending machine, you can purchase it online through the Ping An Good Doctor App – and nearby partner pharmacies will deliver it to your home. 

The company has been busy – since March this year, some of its initiatives include partnerships with hospitals to build up “Internet hospital” models.

In July 2019, it introduced its medical decision support assistant “AskBob” in Singapore. AskBob, backed up data from millions of anonymised patient records and AI, provides critical and up-to-date medical information to clinicians when dealing with patients at the point of care. It also helps with medical research and self-learning such as case discussions. 

2. Luckin Coffee

Luckin Coffee is a chain of coffee shops in China. It became very famous in May this year when it went IPO in the US just 18 months after its founding. The company raised US$561 million in the IPO. 

Luckin Coffee has inspired a number of similar startups, notably in Indonesia. The company itself also plans to expand outside China, with the Middle East and India in its outlook this year. It already has a partnership with Kuwait’s Americana Group – a major F&B operator in the Middle East. 

Luckin Coffee also plans to add a new lineup of products, offering customers other beverages such as grapefruit cheese jasmine tea and food items, including Sichuan cold noodles with pulled chicken via its app.

The key of Luckin’s story is that every order is done through its app – so it has complete control over customer data and has much more power to make informed decisions compared to its competitors, even Starbucks.

3. Kuaishou

Kuaishou (or Kuai) is a short video app and backed up by internet giant Tencent. It is now one of the world’s leading short video applications, with more than 200 million daily active users. 

Kuaishou is popular among people in second (and lower) tier cities as well as rural areas. The platform itself is very famous for its simplicity where you will only find three buttons – no complicated interface. 

Kuaishou big plan for this year is to tap into gaming space. The promising “support” to about 1 million broadcasters and develop an ecosystem for gaming broadcasting.

Over the last couple of years, Kuaishou also tried expanding overseas, especially in Indonesia and the Philippines. However, their globalisation efforts are far less successful compared to those of TikTok, its major competitor operated by ByteDance. We believe two factors are at play: the company structure as well as the product. 

4. Zhihu 

Zhihu is China’s version of Quora where questions and knowledge are questioned. The site was launched in 2011 and already hit more than 15 million users with more than 250 millions page views monthly. Recently Zhihu received US$434 Million from Baidu and Kuai (yes, the company mentioned above). 

Everyone understands the strategic value of Zhihu and the quality of its community (and users). Monetisation efforts are underway, although still pretty much in the experimental stage (think Whatsapp). 

5. Baidu (yes everyone already knows it but…) 

Chinese internet search engine showcased its efforts to become a leader in the internet of things (IoT) by widening the use of AI tech in traditional industries – e.g home applicables, property developer, and even the coal mining industry.

Although the company’s financials performed quite poorly during the latest quarter, losing $60 billion in value since its peak and reported net profit drop of 62% compared to last year, Baidu believes that they keep growing and will overcome this condition in the near future.

Baidu is also one of the first amongst Chinese internet companies to venture overseas. Its lost decade filled with missteps and failures in international markets offered a lot of valuable lessons to other Chinese companies who are just coming out. 

6. Sougou

Sougou is another Chinese internet search engine – although really not known outside China. Its founder Wang Xiaochuan is a renowned technologist (i.e. nerd) in China’s internet hall of fame.

Wang Xiaochuan

Sougou has expanded into mapping, voice recognition, travel translator, travel pen, and lip recognition. It introduced its AI virtual anchor at the Wuzhen Summit in 2018. 

Recently, Sougou develops a new AI technology that can read a novel and fiction book out loud in the authors’ voice. It’s interesting to see what they are going to showcase in Wuzhen this year.

7. Face ++

Megvii, known as Face++ in China and FaceID outside, is a world-leading company focused on identity verification based on facial recognition and AI. Their technology allowed Ant Financial to offer “Smile to Pay” function on its Alipay app. 

Some are saying that face scan will eventually replace QR Code in China – let’s see. 

8. Wifi Master Key

Wifi master key is the World’s first and largest peer-to-peer Wi-Fi sharing platform for free WiFi access – with 800 million monthly users. As an app, it ranks in the top 5 alongside Wechat and Alipay in China.

In July 2019, LinkSure Network, the company which operates Wifi Master Key, teamed up with China Telecom to give users access to “Love WiFi,” an internet service by the latter, through LinkSure’s Wifi Master Key app. 

“Love WiFi” grants internet access in numerous hotels, restaurants and other public places in 215 cities across China.

Wifi Master Key is also outside China – in addition to its core offering, it also runs a social app in Southeast Asia with millions of daily active users. 

9. Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book)

Xiaohongshu is an app that allows users to post and share product reviews, travels, and almost anything via short videos and photos. 

They have more than 200 million registered users and is obviously one of the biggest apps in China. 

Xiaohongshu also owns RED Mall, a platform where people sell various international products to Chinese customers.

“Planting the Grass” (种草) – a term meaning sharing of good experience of a product on Xiaohongshu – has become one of the most famous internet slang in China. 

The company recently faced some issues with regulators with regards to its content supervisory – a challenge that many large platforms in China have met and dealt with. 

Many have tried to copy the Xiaohongshu model in emerging markets, including in India and Indonesia – however, we have not seen one notable success as the landscape in each market is quite different. 

Want to know more? 

The 6th Wuzhen Summit and Expo are coming this October – and Wuzhen is a one hour drive from Shanghai or Hangzhou. 

It is the one-stop place for you to experience the latest innovations and tech developments in China. If you are tech policymakers, investors, corporates looking to innovate – this will give you easy access to everything at one (picturesque) venue. 

If you are interested in joining Momentum Works at Wuzhen this year, please write to [email protected] or register through this link: https://www.eventbrite.sg/e/pre-register-momentum-works-world-internet-conference-expo-at-wuzhen-summit-2019-tickets-66641375147


Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].