Chinese students return from abroad with startup fever

Xinhua
The experience of studying abroad appears to give Chinese students a more open-minded attitude about startups.
Xinhua

Li Huiyu gave up a chance to work for one of America's leading genomics companies, instead returning to China to work for a startup in 2017, the same year he graduated from Stanford University's engineering school.

"I like new challenges, responsibility and leading a team forward," Li said.

"I hope what I learned can contribute to my country," Li said.

He noticed computer science was popular among school children in the United States.

His team, Mobby iCode, now aims to provide high-quality coding courses to children in China.

The experience of studying abroad appears to give Chinese students a more open-minded attitude about startups, according to a survey published earlier this week.

While only 9 percent of those who had yet to study overseas planned to start a business, the number grew significantly to 49 percent among those who had completed overseas courses, according to the survey.

Sun Haotian, also a Stanford graduate, is another example. "Before I studied overseas, my plan was to simply complete a doctorate, which might make my job search easier," said Sun.

"However, a course on entrepreneurship in civil and environmental engineering prompted me to think about joining a start-up," Sun said.

Sun quit a position with an investment company and joined Laiye, a mobile Internet platform that helps with ordering cabs, food, hotels, air tickets and housekeeping.

Rich knowledge and broader horizons are believed to have contributed to the change in attitudes.

However, some noted that it was the amicable environment for entrepreneurship in China that helped them make the decision to return.

"I tried to operate a start-up as early as my years at Berkeley. It was not successful, but I learned an important lesson," said Mark Ma, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.

Speaking of his decision to return, Ma said he values China's detail-oriented work environment.

Li Zeyang graduated with his bachelor's degree in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and continued his studies at Stanford University.

"Before leaving for the United States, I was planning to find a job there and work as an engineer," said Li. He interned at several leading U.S. companies before making the decision to return to China. He later co-founded the mobile game company Chilly Room.

"My experiences at Stanford inspired me," Li said, adding that working overseas as an engineer would not offer him enough of a voice in decision-making.

"There are many more opportunities back in China," he said.


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