Cultural barriers create issues for Chinese start-ups seeking NZ backing, Zino says

The group of 18 migrant Chinese investors attracted attention since pooling their resources last year.

Chinese-led angel investors Zino Ventures wants to overcome cultural and communication barriers that are clogging up the ability of start-ups to attract backing.

The group of 18 migrant Chinese investors attracted attention since pooling their resources last year, setting up a $2 million fund to invest in early-stage companies. The goal is to divert more Chinese investment in New Zealand away from property and into early-stage businesses, particularly those with a view of breaking into China, says founding director David Wang.

Chinese start-ups have struggled to attract local backing largely due to cultural differences and language barriers, which Wang says is something Zino hopes to break down.

"Before we venture into the area, no Chinese people were doing the same thing here," he said. "We also help Chinese immigrant investors step out, communicate with Kiwi companies, and integrate into the local society at the same time."

Forging long-standing relationships has been the norm for New Zealand firms that have successfully broken into China, with many burned when they discover it's much harder to make inroads into Asia's biggest economy and that simply showing up isn't enough.

Wang said Zino wants to bridge that gap, overcoming the cultural clash and language barrier and provide a collegial environment where new Chinese migrants can build their New Zealand investment network.

That includes learning about the domestic environment and researching local industries.

"New Zealand has strong innovative power, a high education level, an open environment of doing business, which can fully motivate start-ups' potential," Wang said. "We particularly focus on science companies that have some links with traditional industries, and we eye their future development."

Zino has invested $390,000 in two businesses so far, including $250,000 in television data platform Parrot Analytics and the rest in Latipay, which acts as an online currency exchange where people can pay in Chinese yuan while merchants get paid in their local currency.

(Hu Min visited New Zealand and worked at BusinessDesk as part of an Asia New Zealand Foundation exchange programme)


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