Last Friday we organized a Lunch 2.0 event at the Shanghai office of Spill Group Asia. In case you never heard about Lunch 2.0 before, it is basically a regular event where employees of internet companies visit another start-up during lunch time to learn a bit about that company and its culture, to meet fellow geeks and new friends, to talk about interesting internet topics – and to have a free lunch. The event is loosely organized in several cities all over the world, and one of them is Shanghai.
The roots of Lunch 2.0 lay in Silicon Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle had a nice article on Lunch 2.0 about a year ago, in which they among others describe how the event started:
Unlike in New York or Hollywood, where status is measured in expense accounts and elite restaurants, Silicon Valley usually views lunch as an unwelcome break from the high-speed workday. Google and other high-tech firms even serve up gourmet cuisine to keep their workers in the office.
But a small group of high-tech go-getters, determined to get inside Silicon Valley companies, decided to reinaugurate the business lunch. They created a loose-knit community in search of a free lunch — and social interactions with their peers. They call it Lunch 2.0. Their slogan: “We really want to eat your lunch.”
In Shanghai the concept just started and the Lunch 2.0 at Spill Group Asia was just the second one in this city. A group of about twenty people showed up in our meeting room to talk about entrepreneurship, how to set up a legal entitiy in China and about getting funding for your start-up. Luckily Facebook did not work too well in China in the days before the event, otherwise we may have had too many people for our meeting room (Facebook is the only tool used to promote the Shanghai events and all registrations go through this site). The food was typical for an internet company: we provided everybody with unlimited pizza and soft drinks.
During the event Catherine Morgan from CIA China held a presentation on incorporating offshore companies and foreign companies in China. She mentioned that many start-ups don’t really think about the legal structure of their entity when they set it up, which may lead to problems later when a company gets VCs on board or plans to go IPO. Their company helps them (or the VC) to change the structure, if that’s still possible. One thing she mentioned, is that it’s normally better to set up a Cayman Island company instead of a BVI, as listing in for example HK will be impossible with a BVI. Also we discussed the registered capital of a company, and the reasons to go for a higher or lower capital when setting up the business (e.g. important when you need more capital to run your operations).
Afterwards I held a short talk on angel investing in China, and criteria for angels or VCs to invest (or not to invest) in companies. There were a couple of companies that were funded and a few that are still looking for funding, so it was a nice mix for a discussion. Most important for me is always the entrepreneur: a good entrepreneur can make a weak business plan work, but a bad entrepreneur can make a good plan fail. The plan itself always comes second in the angel funding stage, because the plan can still be adjusted at that time.
I enjoyed having the group over at our office, I hope the participants also enjoyed the talks and the lively discussion. If you’re interested in organizing it in your company, get in touch with Georg Godula on the Shanghai Lunch 2.0 Facebook page. I look forward to the next Lunch 2.0 event!