Startup Weekend Beijing: Fall 2011

Since Project Pengyou is developing an online social community, we know how it feels to be a tech startup.  That’s one of the reasons why we love to feature startup events in our blog!  And Startup Weekend – which just concluded another successful run in Beijing – is one of the best events out there for aspiring entrepreneurs in China.

Startup Weekend is a 3-day event that brings together highly motivated IT developers, engineers, business managers, marketing gurus, graphic artists and other startup enthusiasts.

These entrepreneurs come together, pitch their ideas, and form teams to create a product over the course of a weekend.  They also get to meet and network with venture capitalists who give them valuable advice.  At the end of the weekend, teams present their products and business plans to a panel of judges who are also experts in the startup sphere.

This Startup Weekend, the grand prize for the best team was pretty awesome: the chance to debut their product at TechCrunch’s first ever Disrupt conference in Beijing!

Since November 2010, Startup Weekend Beijing has been organized by Andy Mok and Charles Hwa, who are both alums of Wharton Business School and good friends of mine.  I was there to volunteer, help out with anything they needed, and to support them.  Incidentally, I was also there to support several friends who were participating.

My American friends Mike, Jeff and Beau were part of a team called SinoSlam, which was a mobile app that turns the task of learning Chinese characters into a social game.  Techrice calls it “Mandarin meets Mortal Kombat.”

Another American friend, Jonlin, partnered with several other Americans who were getting their MBAs at the prestigious Tsinghua University.  They formed a team called Lianshang, a social website for fashionistas to share their style.  Users could upload their wardrobe in photos, mix-and-match them into outfits, and get comments from friends and other trusted members of a fashion community.

In the end, the winning team was called Apricot Forest, a social networking site that aims to keep Chinese doctors informed of the latest and most important medical news.  Developed by a team of entrepreneurial doctors, Apricot Forest’s app allows doctors to follow topics, reports and experts who share information relevant to them.  It was a great idea, and they had a great presentation.

A common theme I noticed in every team’s product was a social component. Everything can be made social nowadays – from learning a language to practicing medicine!  And social is something Project Pengyou can definitely relate to.

Finally, we had a very special visitor at the team presentations – Tanya Porquez, the Executive Producer of TechCrunch’s Disrupt conferences!

Tanya had just flown into Beijing a few hours ago, and was ready to put the final touches on preparing for Disrupt Beijing, happening next week. She was especially pleased to meet some real Beijing hackers, and invited all Startup Weekend participants to join the Disrupt Hackathon!

To read more about Startup Weekend Beijing, visit their website.

Photos courtesy of Startup Weekend Beijing and