High-profile U.S. startup accelerator Y Combinator is making a push to bring more China-based startups into its program after it announced its first official event in the country.
YC has made a push to include startups from outside of North America in recent years. That has seen it bring in companies from the likes of India, Southeast Asia and Africa, but China remains underrepresented. According to YC’s own data, fewer than 10 Chinese companies have passed through its corridors. YC counts over 1,400 graduates.
“Startup School Beijing” is scheduled for May 19 in the Chinese capital at Tsinghua University. The event will be free to attend — though attendees might apply for a ticket — with the goal of showing the benefits of participation in its U.S. program.
The event will include sessions with graduates, YC partners and “live on-stage office hours.” That’ll see three companies picked from the audience to get advice and tips from the attending partners, as happens in the program. Sessions will be in both English and Chinese with live translations available.
YC partner Eric Migicovsky, who founded Pebble, is leading the event, which will include the following speakers:
- Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator
- Nate Blecharczyk, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb
- John Collison, co-founder and president of Stripe
- Holly Liu, visiting partner at Y Combinator and co-founder of Kabam — which sold to Korea’s Netmarbles for $800 million
- David Chen, founder of Strikingly
- Jesse Lu, founder of Raven Tech — which was acquired by Chinese tech giant Baidu
In addition to helping U.S. hardware founders, Migicovsky was brought on specifically to make inroads into China and he is optimistic that there is strong demand.
“We’re hosting Startup School in Beijing to meet local entrepreneurs and start a dialogue about how YC can help,” he told TechCrunch. “The event and the founders we meet will help to inform our strategy going forward. Naturally, we hope to find Chinese startups to apply to our core Y Combinator program in Silicon Valley.”
YC officially announced the event today but the organization’s brand is so strong that word already got out in local media once it began sending out invitations, as our Chinese partner Technode reported.