Monday, June 25, 2007


Yanbo and I had a great time in X'an. We interviewed a government official at the Xi'an Business Incubation Center / Pioneering Park Development Center. We also interviewed Wu Wang President and Founder of Xi'an Landsea Sci-tech Enterprise Co.

Those were our last interviews together so we spent the rest of the time touring Xi'an. We went to Hua'Qing'Chi or the Beautiful Clear Bath, the most famous concubine's bath-house, the Terra Cotta soldiers of the Qin Dynasty, the Forest of Stone Pillars, the Big Goose Pagoda, and some great restaurants along a Muslim street. We stayed at the Bell Tower Hotel and ended the last night with a dinner with a professor at a local university there.

The Goose Pagoda is in honor of Xuan Zang, a monk. "In 652, Xuan Zang returned from India where he had spent 18 years studying Buddhism. When he returned he brought manuscripts of Buddhist texts to translate into Chinese. He must have had an excellent advance agent, because the emperor sent a huge escort to meet his party and the entire city celebrated his return. The crown prince Li Zhi had built the surrounding temple in 648 and dedicated it to his mother. The Big Goose pagoda was added for the manuscripts brought back by the travelers. When Xuan Zang moved into the temple there was another feast and celebration. Xuan Zang was the equivalent of an astronaut returning to a ticker tape parade. His journey was at least as dangerous and certainly took longer."

Back at Tsinghua

After our trip to Xi'an, (details to follow), I'm now back at Tsinghua University, where my trip began, though staying at a different hotel on campus (the former residence of one of the Tsinghua Presidents.

I just met up with Matt Waters after an email introduction from Mike and we had a good dinner at a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant. Although its still as heavily polluted as when I left it's kind of nice to be back in Beijing where I know my way around a bit. After so much sight-seeing it's nice to be back on a univ. campus. Tomorrow however I'm resuming the touring with a trip to the Forbidden City. Photos will come soon after I return to the US on Weds.

A little trivia for my readers: Tsinghua is the Chinese university where Vice President Al Gore lectured at in China in his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. It also boasts among its alumni the co-inventor of the birth control pill.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Headed to Xi'an

Tomorrow morning we are leaving Shanghai and heading to Xi'an by plane. I'm amazed that domestic flights in China can be booked a day ahead of time.

Yesterday I met with Gerald Chan. Gerald Chan co-founded Morningside in 1986. As a privately-held investment group, Morningside is active in both private equity and venture capital investments in North America, Europe and Asia. The group began its China investments in 1992 and remains active in China's internet, media and life science sectors.

Dr. Chan is currently a board member of Hang Lung Group as well as several biotechnology companies including Metacure, Critical Biologics, and Vaccine Technologies Inc. He is a trustee of Fudan University in Shanghai and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received his BS and MS degrees in Engineering from UCLA, a master's degree in Medical Radiological Physics and a Doctor of Science degree in Radiation Biology from Harvard University. He completed his post-doctoral training at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Xian, the eternal city, records the great changes of the Chinese nation just like a living history book. Called Chang'an in ancient times, Xian is one of the birthplaces of the ancient civilization in the Yellow River Basin area of the country. During Xian's 3,100 year development, 13 dynasties such as Western Zhou (11th century BC - 771 BC), Qin (221 BC - 206 BC), Western Han (206 BC - 24 AD) and Tang (618 - 907) placed their capitals here. So far, Xian enjoys equal fame with Athens, Cairo, and Rome as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals.

Xian is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the southern part of the Guanzhong Plain. With the Qinling Mountains to the south and the Weihe River to the north, it is in a favorable geographical location surrounded by water and hills.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Well, I managed to catch my first case of traveler's illness since being here today and had to cancel our last meeting today. I also committed my first social faux pas the day we left Beijing. I had bought several items from the MIT Coop before leaving Cambridge to give as gifts for people helping us out with the interviews and survey. As everything is overpriced at the Coop this wasn't an easy task so one of the more inexpensive items I picked up was a couple of packs of MIT branded pencils. I gave these to 2 of the younger alumni association staff members and then only later found out that pencils are a really crappy gift in China where apparently pencils are extremely inexpensive. Oh well, you live and you learn.

We've been hearing some very funny analogies and sayings from some of the Chinese investors and entrepreneurs. I'll try to remember and recount some of them here. Probably the most ironic meeting we had was the day before we left Beijing when we met with a Haidan District government official who is also a Venture Capital investor! Again today we met with a VC firm that was initially funded by the government.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I made it to Shanghai late last night. We took the fast train from Beijing to Shanghai to see some of the countryside and other cities on the way. My first impressions of Shanghai are its impressive size, number of skyscrapers and busy nightlife. However I've only seen a tiny slice of the city so far.

Sunday night we're going to a tea house where a lot of Tsinghua alumni are gathering to talk about entrepreneurship - perfect for us!

From Destination 360:
Fifteen million people call Shanghai China home. For years it was the country's biggest and busiest port, the gateway to and from the West - not to mention the Yangtze River, which meets the ocean in the outskirts of the city. Because of this, the city is the chief metropolitan base in the country, its aging streets greeting millions of travelers per year just as they have done decade after decade.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hooking folks up

Today Yanbo is headed to meet an entrepreneur in automotive design and I am headed to lunch with Josh Ding who I met yesterday fromt he Larson Group and an American professor who I met here my 2nd day. The professor has been teaching at Tsinghua and having the students develop a mobile application for guiding foreign visitors around Beijing during the Olympics. It's something that I think will be badly needed even though I'm not sure of its prospects for making money. Anyway, David asked me for advice and told me about what he'd developed and it seemed that Josh had made similar investments before so I introduced the two of them and we're all meeting for lunch at a Beijing restaurant today.

In the afternoon Yanbo and I meet up again to meet with a Tsinghua alum who has started a chip company here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More of Beijing

Sunday evening I went to a restaurant on the East Bank of the Qianhai lake in Beijing, close to the trendy Hao Hai area. I had a great dinner but learned an important lesson in eating Chinese cuisine . . . when eating really spicy food with you hands, you must wash your hands FIRST before using the facilities and then again after . . . whoops, lesson learned.

Today we had a morning meeting with Jun Lu, the entrepreneur behind Tongcard, a card-based loyalty kind of program for stores here in China. At noon we had lunch with a female entrepreneur named Echo who started "Build-a-Bear" and got acquired. She's the first successful woman entrepreneur we met. In the afternoon we met with the founder of a real estate and consulting firm BA Consulting who was particularly insightful about business venturing in China. Tomorrow we meet with a couple of investors in Beijing.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


It's been a busy week of meetings, too many to report on in particular. We met with Charles Zhang, founder of on Friday and with a Chinese VC investing in clean energy. On Friday night I went with an American professor to the Hou Hai area for dinner and a couple drinks. Saturday two students took me to the Summer Palace which was a really amazing place. In the evening we went for Peking duck with Harold Chen, a good friend from Duke. He took me back to the migrant worker community that Dream Corps is setting up a library in this summer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Today we had two meetings. One in the morning with Chen Cheng founder of UPS Technologies, a software outsourcing firm. The one in the afternoon was in southern Beijing and with the founder of PacLanta, the #1 firm in terms of market share for children's clothing in China. Both are pretty successful entrepreneurs.

Tomorrow we have a busy day with 4 meetings scheduled including a dinner meeting with a Beijing VC.

The pollution was pretty bad today and it was very hot so I am countering that by eating lots of ice cream and great watermelon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Today we met with two successful internet entrepreneurs and had lunch with the second at a very good restaurant. In the afternoon we met with the Director of the Tsinghua Science Park and Venture Capital firm.

Tomorrow we have another very full day of several interviews with Tsinghua alumni. China is really booming and its inspirational to hear the stories of these entrepreneurs. It really seems that in recent years entrepreneurship in China is very similar to that in the US with more and more high tech entrepreneurs.

Monday, June 4, 2007


I've been in Beijing 3 days now。 Great so far, but very polluted。 We met with the
Tech. Licensing office and 2 alumni entrepreneurs today. 6 meetings tomorrow!


It's not too flattering but here is a BW article。