Sowing seeds of new business

Updated: 2013-10-07 11:08

By Yu Wei in San Francisco (China Daily)

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With more than 1,000 attendees gathered at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association (HYSTA)'s annual conference became a Mecca for anyone wanting to share knowledge and insights into entrepreneurship, technology and success in business.

HYSTA, an organization that promotes entrepreneurialism among Chinese professionals in Silicon Valley, kicked off its 14th annual conference on Saturday. David Chao, co-founder and general partner at DCM, is the new president of HYSTA.

"It is the first conference we started in San Francisco," said George Hu, vice-president of HYSTA and chief operating officer at Salesforce. "Compared to previous conferences, I think it is a more targeted conference this year as we have strongly focused on entrepreneurship."

The theme of this year's conference is empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. Among HYSTA's distinguished keynote speakers and panelists sessions are executives from leading technology companies such as Andrew Ng, chief executive officer of Coursera; Ken Gullicksen, chief operating officer of Evernote; and Sean Maloney, former executive vice-president of Intel.

 Sowing seeds of new business

Zhou Wei, Hua Yuan Science and Technology Association's outgoing president, delivered opening remarks at HYSTA's 2013 annual conference at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco on Saturday. Yu Wei / China Daily

"Our vision and hope is that out of today's conference, we are going to find a group of entrepreneurs that are inspired to go on to create their own great companies, with strong connections to China or hopefully Chinese leadership," Hu said.

"Our hope is that the seeds for some of those businesses are planted right here today," he added.

Founded in 1999, HYSTA has evolved and grown into one of the largest and most influential professional organizations in the Bay Area.

Zhou Wei, the outgoing president of HYSTA and CEO of Centrillion Biosciences, said giving back is the key contributor to HYSTA's success.

"I remember when HYSTA's first started, there was not much experience in our community in entrepreneurship," Zhou said. "Now, many of our members have successfully built their companies and many of them became investors. Those people have come back to help the next generation of entrepreneurs."

Robin Li, CEO and co-founder of China's largest search engine Baidu, and Lu Qi, president of Microsoft Online Services Division, both made keynote speeches at HYSTA's 2012 annual conference.

"Robin said he felt like coming home," Zhou said, adding that people leave HYSTA, then come back and make contributions.

Zhou said HYSTA has many similar stories. For example, Ken Xie, founder and CEO of Fortinet Inc, and Deng Feng, founding managing director at Northern Light Venture Capital, have both served as presidents of HYSTA.

Many successful programs have also been initiated by HYSTA, such as its popular China Partnership Program, which provides frequent receptions and recruiting events for delegations from China, leads business trips to China and helps entrepreneurs connect with investors.

This year, HYSTA also started a new CEO training program with Legend Star. "The program has received a great response and many participating CEOs said they have benefited significantly from the program," Zhou said. "We will have more such programs in the future.

Sowing seeds of new business

"There are more funding, technology parks, entrepreneurship expertise and stronger government support in China, where I see great potential," he said. "In the US, we see more Chinese companies coming to Silicon Valley to invest and to seek cooperation opportunities."

David Wolf, a managing director of global China at Allison+Partners, a San Francisco-based international PR agency that has been one of HYSTA's sponsors before, said the reason he showed up at today's conference was to get back in touch with HYSTA, as his company wants to increase its involvement with the organization.

"My job is to help US companies earn trust in China and help Chinese companies earn trust with America's audience," Wolf said. "When my clients come to a problem, if we can't solve that problem right away, we have to know somebody who can, and HYSTA was the resource that we can rely on."

(China Daily USA 10/07/2013 page9)