China-based start-up incubator and early-stage venture firm Withinlink, founded by Bessie Lee, the former chief executive of WPP China, has launched a second US$30 million fund focused on bringing American start-ups to China.
The new fund comes after the firm closed a RMB fund last March targeting mid- to late-stage U.S. media and technology companies not yet doing business in China, as well as early stage companies founded in the U.S. by Chinese entrepreneurs. That earlier fund’s size was not disclosed in a company announcement.
“As our world globalizes and China gentrifies, there has never been a better time to bridge the gap between Silicon Valley innovation and the China market,” said Lee, who resigned in April as WPP China CEO to focus on her new venture. “Withinlink Venture Fund 2.0 will invest in U.S.-based companies with products and services poised for takeoff in China.”
Over the past two years, Withinlink has made angel and early-stage investments in nearly a dozen China-based start-ups in mobile advertising, big data and analytics, social media, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The firm has invested in mobile advertising solutions firm Pingcoo, artificial intelligence-based creative platform Kuaizi, retail data firm Zhima and marketing automation firm Fugetech.
“Our first RMB fund was a domestic affair, but we are a global team. In our trips overseas, we have noted the difficulty mid-stage U.S. tech firms have in getting China onto their roadmaps. We also recognize the high caliber of Chinese entrepreneurs operating in Silicon Valley. With this second fund we will invest to help both groups launch business in China,” Lee added.
Lee was CEO of WPP China, the British multinational advertising and public relations company’s unit in China. She was responsible for 14,000 employees and more than US$1 billion in annual revenue while there between 2013 and 2017. Before that, she was CEO of GroupM China, managing all of WPP’s media assets including Mindshare and MediaCom.