In itnig’s Podcast #27 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial and César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial speak with Alexis Roig entrepreneur in China about how he got started and the challenges and opportunities he faces on a day to day basis.

Summing up 9 years of living in China in terms of bureaucracy, local partners, recruitment of talented team members, cultural differences and the effects of pollution.

Before moving to Shanghai I was living in France. Little decisions bring you to new places. To me, European culture felt pretty similar once you learn the language. So, after a time in France I was looking for something new, a cultural challenge. And in that sense China, Shanghai really seemed like a personal and professional challenge with huge opportunities for business and technology.

I moved to Shanghai initially working for a French company — and I arrived there without knowing anything. If you have something entrepreneurial in you, China is contagious. It has another rhythm, everybody has another company, side projects. In the first year I started with my own personal project while working at the company.

What kind of projects did you start?

We started out with Food & Beverage products that were innovative at that time. Later I dedicated myself to education, developing collaboration between Europe and China and now lately consulting projects in technological diplomacy. International relation paired with science, innovation and technology.

In general, Chinese don’t cook at home, most people eat out. So we launched a restaurant with mediterranean/ catalan cuisine. Far away from technology, this was a very interesting project.

How do you create business in China?

If you are thinking more about the bureaucratic aspect it’s not easy: As foreigner there is a format to follow, a lot of regulation and norms for taxes and recruitment. These rules for foreigners differ from rules applied to Chinese businesses.

And it’s not just bureaucracy — you need a new approach to everything.

Chinese internet is another world.

You’ll have to think of other ways of doing business — Amazon Web Services, Google Apps, GitHub …. you won’t be able to do business as usual and have to find new ways. When you want to start in China, you’ll need maximum humility and you should look at it as if it were your very first project.

What is the work culture like?

For me as entrepreneur this is probably the hardest challenge. Talent lack, no team work, not much creativity — based in education system. You listen to the teacher but you never question his wisdom. No creativity, no critical thinking, no group work. This education system helps to keep up the system but it also means that China is lacking talent working in new areas of science and technology.

People are only children — this also has an implication on their behavior. In a family there might be six people who are looking after one child, all frustration, aspiration and expectations are focussed on one child. This child receives a look of pressure on what to do in life, whom to marry, where to work, if to buy a house or not…This also affects the way you look at work.

You ask somebody for an opinion — but it’s hard to get an answer.

This is generalizing of course, stereotypes. Now the trend is to bring back Chinese population who left to study abroad, start business or work in laboratory. They know how to move in the Chinese society and have seen the ‘world outside’.

How do you sell in China?

In terms of Internet, the Chinese internet user is very accustomed to buy online. 8 years ago when I arrived to Shanghai, I was surprised! In the subway in the morning everybody around me was buying online through their mobile. At the same time in Europe, we had Amazon but it wasn’t the same thing. I still use my desktop to shop, compare prices and find information about the product looking to buy. And when arriving at the office, the reception was swamped with parcels.

Most Chinese people’s first contact with internet is through the phone. Like in other areas of development, the first product introduced to the market was a phone not a desktop pc.

30 years ago China was a miserable place but now people are dressed with international brand, big cars, use the latest smartphone. The boom of consumer society, deleting the story of the country, religion is the money, the big aspiration is making money, paying a good education for children and finding a high paying job. What’s left of communism is probably only the leading party’s name.

If you are interested in hearing more about starting a business in China, watch the whole podcast on Youtube or listen to it on iTunes.


Listen to our podcast to learn more about Alexis’ adventures in developing businesses in China. Learn more in this Podcast in Spanish on our Youtube channel, listen to it on iTunes or enjoy it through iVoox and subscribe to our newsletter to stay always up to date.

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W.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A COWORKING SPACE FOR YOUR STARTUP

Your home office or a coffee shop won’t be enough!

Yes, we all know the tale about the guy who starts a small company in their garage or basement, has a brilliant idea and becomes the next Steve Jobs. It’s true, most successes have very humble beginnings. It’s also true that not all garage or basements are going to magically get you a successful business. They might work in the very (veeeery) early stages of your startup, but you can’t always meet a client at coffee shops, not to say your basement. 

A great, if not the best, solution is to find a coworking space. Coworking spaces have become very popular all over the world, either for freelancers or entrepreneurs and startups. 

Coworking spaces are not just big rooms with desks and chairs with high-speed wifi. The areas are made to be exciting places to work and improve your productivity.

As a startup, you need to find resources fast and affordably. More importantly, you’ll need motivation. This is why you should consider a coworking space. 

Here are some basic but amazing benefits from coworking spaces:

  1. Community

Joining a coworking means joining a community.  Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs, freelancers and talented independent people is without doubt a one of the best features of a coworking.

Motivation is key when starting a new project and trying to develop your own business. The road will get though and you’ll appreciate other entrepreneurs’ vision and support! Other workers’ feedback can be very useful to improve your service/product before trying to sell it to the world. 

  1. Networking, networking and…networking!

As a startup, you’ll be looking for networking opportunities. Most coworkings host professionals from different kind of industries, which can open up many doors for you and your business. Not all coworking spaces are about networking, some of them prefer to have a quiet individual work environment, so as a startup you have to make sure to choose a coworking with networking opportunities.

At Itnig, for example, we love to share ideas and support other entrepreneurs. Don’t be shy, some of the other coworking tenants can bring great business opportunities, or even become new clients (and friends)! 

  1. Budgetfriendly

As entrepreneurs (or people for that matter) it’s very important to understand the importance of money, more specifically: budget. Tight budgets call for smart spending. Coworkings are usually budget friendly, most of them offer different membership options depending on your startup’s needs and budget.

  1. Amenities 

A coworking provides you with everything needed to be as productive as possible. High speed internet connection, printers, conference rooms and COFFEE. Some coworkings even plan afterwork activities and events to make it all more fun! As a startup, a coworking space is your best chance at having all the basic amenities but also the fun ones, like a ping pong table or a nice chill out terrace. 

  1. Happy clients

As you grow and have more clients, it can get messy if you keep meeting them in coffee shops. Coworking spaces offer office services such as conference rooms. That way your meetings will be more professional and comfortable for everyone. 

Barcelona is a city full of coworkings of every kind! Our Itnig community keeps growing, we now have up to 20 startups such as Andjoy, Classlife, Factorial and Freeverse, all under the same roof. We have afterwork activities and we also plan different kinds of events open to anyone interested in marketing, tech stuff, entrepreneurship and design. Our space is about 2.100m2 with up to 800m2 of conference rooms, events space, ping pong and fun activities. 

There’s also  wifi, endless coffee and talented people. Join us!