Sorry for this email blast, but since Twitter, Facebook, etc are blocked in China, I have to do this the old-fashioned way. Generally, I'm horrible at keeping in touch with people when I'm traveling, so I'm sending this update email to friends in Pittsburgh ahead of my next series of trips.Jia's hometown in China is Chengdu, a city we visited three times in the past. In Pittsburgh, he was a CMU and a few other firms, including guru.com I think.
I'm only going to cover two main things in this email, social ventures and early-stage incubators. So if you're not interested in either of those topics, it's probably best to skip this email.
Let's cover social ventures first. As most of you know, my latest startup was accepted for GoodCompany Ventures last summer (http://www.goodcompanyventures.org/companies/couchange/) and this year's program will start accepting applications soon. If you know anyone working on a socially-beneficial startup, I would strongly recommend considering the program. As far as I know, it's still the only y-combinator style incubator focused on social entrepreneurs.
GoodCompany Ventures is organizing a series of events about the "public service potential of private capital" in various cities over the next few months. I'll be flying back to the US later this week to speak at their first event in New York City (http://gcvpanel.eventbrite.com). I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly they were able to sellout the event, but that's probably due to high-profile speakers such as Fred Wilson and Jacqueline Novogratz. Given the success of similar events in Pittsburgh like "Solutions for Society", I think there's potential in bringing a GCV event to the city, so if there's interest in hosting such an event, please let me know. I should be back in Pittsburgh in a few weeks.
Finally, since people have sent me questions about social ventures in China, I'd like to point out Chengdu MeiHuan Tech (http://www.huania.com) as a good example of a Chinese social venture. Founded just after the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, they provide low cost earthquake alarms to schools and are developing earthquake prediction technology that can be utilized worldwide. Unfortunately, since VCs are relatively rare in central China (as compared to coastal cities) and social VCs basically non-existent, examples like MeiHuan Tech are actually pretty rare. Which is why I've been exploring the feasibility of running y-combinator and GoodCompany style incubator programs in various cities throughout China. While the emergence of such programs in China seems inevitable to me, there currently only exists one real non-governmental startup incubator (coincidentally also called Innovation Works, http://www.innovation-works.com). If you're interested in more specific details rather than this brief overview, I'll be presenting my findings as I travel throughout the northeastern US over the next few weeks, so just send me an email about it.
That's about it. Hope this email wasn't too intrusive. See you in a few weeks.