Cheap luxury, startup required

Updated: 2013-12-02 09:48

By Yu Wei in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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For just $19, you can live for one day in a $3.7 million house in Los Altos Hills, one of the wealthiest zip codes in California.

However, the mansion is only open to guests who either have their own startups or are willing to start one.

This is Cheku Cafe — a Beijing-based coffee shop that served as a social platform for startup founders and investors to meet each other — first location in the US and the home of A Xi, a successful entrepreneur and angel investor from China.

"I love to help people who have the passion to start a new business,"said A Xi, general manager of Cheku Cafe's US branch. "One thing I can do to help is to provide them with accommodations in Silicon Valley that are at a cheap price but luxurious enough to hopefully motivate these young entrepreneurs to work harder."

A Xi's relationship with Cheku started one year ago when he visited Cheku Café in Beijing. "The place was crowded and I was struck by the atmosphere. All around me were young faces full of passion,"A said.

He was also impressed with Cheku's non-profit business model. "Just for the price of a cup of coffee you could have an office in Zhongguancun, a Beijing technology hub known as China's Silicon Valley,"A said. "I knew Cheku was not aiming at making a profit."

Founded in 2011, Cheku Café was designed as a place where startups could set up their offices with cheap rents and entrepreneurs as neighbors to inspire each other.

So far, more than 100 enterprises have started their business in Cheku Café and among them, five enterprises have achieved $16 million in sales revenue.

Because of the success in China, the idea of establishing a Cheku Café US branch took shape.

"There are lots of entreprenures in Silicon Valley who want to start their own business, and with China's growing economic power, more and more startups are eyeing the China market and looking to have a connection with China,"A said. "We hope a place like Cheku can make their entrepreneurship easier."

After just two weeks since Cheku Cafe USA branch started, A's hilltop house has already become a meeting place for startup entrepreneurs, including Andrius Terskovas and Ramunas Laucius, two startup entrepreneurs from Denmark who travelled to Silicon Valley for a startup boot camp.

"Before we came, we saw Mr. A Xi's poster from and his beautiful house with unbelievable rents,"said Terslovas. "So I explained to him who we were and what our startup was, and we were accepted. It felt like a miracle."

"Mr. A Xi provides us an opportunity to meet him and his friends, and he provides us this very nice hospitality. You wouldn't have such opportunity in any hotel no matter how much money you pay,"Terslovas said. "He and Cheku Café are helping us to make our dream come true."Terslovas and his partner Laucius's startup is called Experience Taster. It is a website that people can create and share their lifestyle or profession experience. Terslovas said after their startup achieving some initial success, they are looking forward to tap into the Chinese market since "China is a very big market and very promising".

A said, he and his team are currently looking for a larger place in Silicon Valley for Cheku Café US shop in order to serve more people. However, A said his home is always open to startup entrepreneurs.

"I'm doing this because I was in the same position where those grassroots entrepreneurs are now. I persisted and succeed,"A said. "I want to share my experience with them and help them and witness their success."

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