Jie Teng, Co-Founder and Chief IBO (Invest-Build-Operate) Officer of Venturous Group, boasts over a decade of experience spanning entrepreneurship, tech startups, private equity, venture investing, product management, and software engineering. With a solid educational foundation in computer science from Zhejiang University in China and a master’s degree in computer science from Cornell University, Teng launched her career as a software engineer in the U.S. Following her MBA at Chicago Booth, she transitioned into the dynamic startup ecosystem, where she played pivotal roles in two successful ventures in China including co-founding an online insurance products company. This diverse background uniquely positions Jie to lead Venturous Group’s investment activities with an innovative and strategic perspective, combining technology, entrepreneurship, and business acumen.
Can you share your entrepreneurial experience, current organisational role, and day-to-day activities?
At Venturous Group, I oversee investment activities and work on strategy and business development initiatives for Venturous’ portfolio companies. I started as an analyst and gradually worked my way up to a C-level position, where I now hold key responsibilities for investment decision-making and the overall management of our portfolio.
As a Citytech Group, we create, build and invest in game-changing technology companies, starting from China, to make cities smarter – more liveable, sustainable and productive. Ourfocus is the smart buildings, smart energy and smart computing verticals. My day-to-day activities involve deep engagement with our portfolio companies, dedicating 50 percent of my time to strategy, organisation, and operational discussions. Another 40 percent is focused on expanding our network by connecting with entrepreneurs, ecosystem professionals, and key players within the value chains of our verticals. The remaining 10 percent is allocated to internal responsibilities, overseeing our Beijing office and managing internal procedures.
What challenges do entrepreneurs face while establishing their businesses, and how do they overcome these obstacles to set up a sustainable future for themselves?
Early-stage ventures in the Chinese startup ecosystem face funding challenges due to founders’ limited track records and incomplete teams, worsened by current market conditions. Conversely, late-stage startups in series B and C confront a grim capital market and uncertain sentiment, with revenue growth struggling to validate past valuations. Geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainties lead to reduced capital spending and hiring across companies, impacting growth-stage firms grappling with where and how to achieve future growth.
Amid these challenges, many founders and leaders seek growth opportunities abroad, particularly within One Belt, One Road initiative countries to avoid geopolitical complexities. In talent recruitment, the landscape has shifted, with risk-averse top candidates preferring job security, posing a challenge for startups despite competitive compensation packages. State-owned enterprises (SOEs) have entered the competition, offering job security and opportunities encouraged by national innovation policies. SOEs’ adoption of competitive compensation approaches further complicates the talent landscape. Overall, Chinese startups grapple with fundraising difficulties, evolving talent dynamics, increased SOE competition, and the complexities of market conditions and geopolitical uncertainties in their entrepreneurial journey.
What are the key considerations and factors entrepreneurs should prioritise when building and managing a startup or company?
The crucial factor in consumer and enterprise businesses is obtaining that first customer. Understanding why the initial customer makes a purchase is pivotal for consumer ventures, allowing replication of this success to accelerate growth. In the case of enterprise businesses, the first customer provides revenue and helps refine the product, expand the team, and establish credibility. Identifying target customers and refining value propositions remain paramount in this entrepreneurial journey.
What advice would you offer to young entrepreneurs embarking on their journey in the startup landscape or venturing into business for the first time?
My advice to first-time entrepreneurs would be to engage in meaningful conversations with a minimum of 10 experienced entrepreneurs or founders before diving into the startup journey. These conversations can provide invaluable insights and might even lead young entrepreneurs to reconsider their decision or help them better prepare if they decide to proceed with their venture.
Source: Interview published by StartupCity on 7 November 2023