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Monday, September 19, 2016

VC Investor Tim Draper Gives Master Class at CEIBS

September 19, 2016. Beijing – Tim Draper says the finance industry is ripe for a shakeup. Speaking today to an audience of entrepreneurs and investors which included many CEIBS students and alumni, the renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist spoke about what makes a successful entrepreneur, the types of start-ups he is investing in now, and why he is looking to disrupt his own industry. He even shared his email address with the audience and encouraged entrepreneurs to pitch him. The founding partner of the VC firms Draper Associates and Draper Fisher Jurvetson as well as the Draper University of Heroes was at CEIBS Beijing Campus to give a Master Class titled “Iron Man’s Investor and his ‘Silk Road’ for Venture Capital”.

Draper was among the first VCs to enter the China market and was an early investor in the Chinese internet giant Baidu. His other successful early investments include Skype and Tesla – the later founded by ‘Iron Man’ Elon Musk. He said he is often asked how Chinese entrepreneurs differ from Americans and Europeans. In his view, entrepreneurs are all the same, no matter their nationality. “They have incredible passion and drive, and a willingness to stand apart from others and do something that people might think is crazy but ends up working,” he said.

He introduced his venture firm Draper Associates by likening it to the recent One Belt, One Road initiative launched by the Chinese government. He said both are creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurship around the world. While applauding the Chinese government for its ability to attract foreign investment he also noted the importance of investing Chinese capital in other parts of the world, which enables Chinese to have a window into innovation happening elsewhere. Though he is still enthusiastic about investing in China he said that some US VCs have started pulling back. Draper explained that this was mainly due to concerns about concerns about people misrepresenting connections to established US VC firms, a lack of understanding of the relationships between local governments and companies they back, as well as regulations that bar foreign investment from certain types of Chinese companies once they go public.

Throughout his talk he encouraged the entrepreneurs in the audience to be fearless and shake up the status quo. “The most important thing for any entrepreneur is to take the first step. The whole point is to just go do it. Just try. If it doesn’t work, take a step back. With each step forward you are in a new place,” he said.

During a Q&A on stage with CEIBS Professor of Management Practice Gong Yan he spoke about industries he thinks are on the verge of being disrupted, including his own. “I think all industries need to be reinvigorated and transformed every decade,” he said. He explained that, like healthcare and government, the finance industry has high costs, low service and is beginning to be disrupted by the internet. Start-ups looking to disrupt these sectors are ones he is particularly keen to invest in.

In his welcome address at the Master Class, CEIBS President Prof. Li Mingjun explained how innovation and entrepreneurship are deeply embedded in CEIBS’ DNA. “Our goal is to build a global platform for innovation and entrepreneurship. So we are always eager to learn from great minds such as Tim Draper,” he said.