How Chinaccelerator’s latest batch is making traditional businesses sexy

If you didn’t know it yet, tech is the new sexy. There has been a surge in the development and take up of a wide range of new technologies. Many long-established industries are now using them to their advantage to make their offerings more convenient and efficient. The newest batch at the Shanghai-based Chinaccelerator has […]

How Chinaccelerator’s latest batch is making traditional businesses sexy originally appeared on TechNode

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This company helps luxury brand improve CRM with AI-powered chatbots

WeChat has over 800 million users, 83% of whom purchased products through the messaging platform in 2015. This number beats the 375 million users on China’s largest B2C marketplace Tmall. The difference between social commerce and commerce is the engagement, and that’s where social Customer Relation Management (CRM) is finding its time to shine.

Compared with other e-commerce platforms, a WeChat public account not only helps their users to purchase physical goods but also helps brand channels engage followers and interact with them.

“Many Chinese people now buy luxury items on WeChat, rather than using e-commerce platforms. This helps to build trustworthy social commerce, rather than a traditional retail market model,” Anthony Xu, CEO of OCheng told TechNode.

OCheng, a Chinese company that adapts machine learning uses chatbots to respond to the customers showcased their solution on Chinaccelerator batch 11 demo day.

Top luxury brands are finding it more and more difficult to manage over a million customers one by one. AI-powered chatbots are replacing membership cards that not only understand customer’s past purchases, but also engage them in conversation. An artificial intelligence-based chatbot can handle routine questions, send out personalized messages, and recommend products based on their purchase history.

OCheng’s solution for brands helped increase French cosmetic company Sephora‘s fanbase from 90,000 to 3 million in 2016. They looked at Sephora’s WeChat account and segmented based engagement. Targeting certain segments, they invited some to connect with the chatbot and engaged with them based on their purchase history.

Competitors do exist, including Social Touch (时趣) and Youzan, but Anthony says that their competitors focus on SMEs. The Shanghai-based company says they have a more scalable business model and adopt machine learning, which other companies lack.

Aiming to function as a social commerce for brands and the number 1 social CRM for luxury brands in China, OCheng has partnered with 15 lifestyle, fashion and cosmetic brands including Dunhill, HMC, Baby Bear, Sephora, Michael Kors. Now the company is handling 4 million followers with using their chatbot. Established in 2015, the company has since generated an average of RMB 4 million (US$ 586,000) in revenue per year.

Chinese company joining an international accelerator

OCheng is now working with dozens of global luxury brands, where the company needed the global expansion gateway.

“China-based accelerators can provide networks within China, but what I needed was hands-on mentorship from international mentors. Chinaccelerator had good global networks and provided partnership opportunities, and we needed just that,” Anthony says. “We want to approach more international brands and work with them to build a global social commerce platform.”

Luxury brands need innovation

“We have two strong points that other companies cannot replicate. Our technology base is strong and we’re using AI to do the CRM. We have experience in cosmetic and lifestyle brands, and have knowledge and connections,” Anthony says.

35-year-old Anthony previously worked at Alipay’s technology unit, and later worked in a digital marketing department at Yum! and Mary Kay. Leveraging his past experience and connections to start his digital marketing solution company, Anthony believes that OCheng is at the right place and time.

“Fashion, cosmetic and luxury brands need innovation; digital marketing is an important part of that. They want to work with startups to bring innovation within their companies. On the other hand, AI now is being applied to all industries,” Anthony remarks.

OCheng has two business models: software-as-a-service (SaaS) and premium customization services. The former is a 1 year subscription for brands and the latter provides a personalized model with systems integrations. They charge 10,000 ~20,000 RMB (US$1,465 ~ 2,930) a month for brands, based on the number of their followers and the functions they want to use.

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3 ways Chinaccelerator Batch 11 startups monetize with KOL marketing

Chinaccelerator unveiled its Batch 11 startups at their demo day on June 14th in Shanghai.

Graduates of previous batches include:

Shopal, helping retailers connect with Chinese investors
BitMEX, a commercially successful company enabling people in China to invest in global investment vehicles via bitcoin that recorded US$ 70 million USD volume,
Chozun, helping global travelers to get services in China
Fashory, a top 5 fashion app in Southeast Asia that growth hacked in China to make RMB 200,000 sales in just one week

As a seed investor as well as a growth hacker for early stage startups, ChinAccelerator has given good examples to growth hack WeChat, social media, content, and companies to get customer and user.

From their latest batch 11, we can see how their startups are monetizing KOLs (Key Opinion Leader). The value of China’s internet celebrity market is tipped to surpass RMB 100 billion in 2018, according to Beijing-based research agency Analysus.

“In China, the opportunity is bigger, but overseas celebrities don’t have a digital presence. Through WeChat, Baidu, and Weibo, we help them to build a social biography and monetize their fans,” Mattia Baldassare, CEO of eFanswer told TechNode.

Superstars in various industries, including music, entertainment, and sports have a huge fanbase in China market, and China represents a huge potential market for these stars to monetize their fandom. However, not many can monetize on it, because of the language barrier, and because these celebrities don’t understand Chinese fans. That’s where these startups come in, allowing them to seek a bigger opportunity in China, using different methods: biography, gaming, and chatbot.

1. eFanswer: Monetizing football through biographies
eFanswer website

eFanswer website

Mattia Baldassare previously worked as a lawyer for Holland football players. One day, Alessandro Del Piero told him he wanted to publish his biography. Mattia later thought of a new way to write a biography: Fans can submit questions to their favorite football stars. By answering 300 questions from their fans through voice, audio and text, celebrities can easily publish a biography.

In 2015, they sold 50,000 copies of his biography in Holland and made US$ 300,000. Inspired by this outcome, Mattia created a platform where football celebrities can connect with their fans.

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With the tagline “Netflix for books,” eFanswer enables celebrities to share their life stories with fans through text, audio, and video across social platforms both online and offline. They have sold over 180,000 copies of 6 football stars’, recording US$ 300,000 revenue and over 1.2 billion total video views in 2016. Now they are targeting China market, where English Premier League fanbase is over 300 million.

Now the platform features 10 celebrities, including Claudio Marchisio, Alessandro Del Piero, Giorgio Chiellini, motor GP champions Jorge Lorenzo and Samuel Etoo, and NBA player Danilo Gallinari. Soon Pope Francis will also receive 300 questions from his followers to publish a book himself.

2. Lihaoma: Monetizing KOLs with gamification and prizes
Rachel Daydou, CBO of Lihaoma

Rachel Daydou, CBO of Lihaoma

Lihaoma gamifies social advertisement and KOLs to entertain and engage followers to increase overall brand awareness. Followers can play easy and intuitive games to get social commerce discount game to drive sales on Taobao and Weidian, and win awards.

“Using games, followers show 3 times better engagement. When we included Q&A games, brand’s website showed 30% more traffic, and their WeChat content showed 30% more engagement and conversation. Because consumers needed to find the answers on the brand’s websites to find the answers,” Benjamin Claeys, CEO of Lihaoma told TechNode.

3. B2 Talent Asia: Helping global musicians become KOLs in China
CEO of B2 Talent Asia, Jonathan Serbin

CEO of B2 Talent Asia, Jonathan Serbin

Using chatbots can help KOLs to manage the huge amount of fans. A chatbot strategy combined with Q&A, games, celebrity’s holograms can help KOLs build bigger growth.

“China is the fastest music market in the world, with 20 million digital music downloads. Western superstars can come into China KOLs, but they don’t have tool and teams to do that,” CEO of B2 Talent Asia told TechNode.

B2 Talent Asia enables global musicians to become KOL in China by providing a Pan-Asian celebrity management service and social media service. They help the musicians grow the follower base on social media and monetize their fan base with merchandise sales. Previously, they helped Southeast Asian stars Jannie Weigel and Dome Pakora Lam build 500 million follower base in China.

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