When Quest started, we worked out of a service office in CBD and took meetings at the cafes nearby. One of our favourite meeting places was the Hong Kong cafe at Guomao before it had to shut down due to renovations by the mall.
One day, Zhaoying, our super plugged-in marketing manager, said that there was a new co-working space that was launching at Zhongguancun, and asked the company to consider moving there.
To put things in perspective, all VCs work out of either CBD or Financial Street. Only one well-known fund — Innovation Works — had located itself in Zhongguancun and even that was due to its need for incubation space as it runs acceleration programs.
The name Zhongguancun literally means Zhongguan Village. Lenovo (Legend) started from a tiny shop here, as did many hardware companies of that era. Baidu, Sina and Google had their offices there too. So it was already a vibrant tech hub in its own right. The only issue was no investors were based there as it was far away from the city center.
Zhaoying arranged for a site visit and a month later, we have moved into our new office at the Kumi Co-working Space, one floor above Innovation Works, and thus becoming the first VC we know to move into Zhongguancun.
Kumi’s layout was not optimised. Lack of full-height walls meant that our co-working neighbours could hear our discussions. But we had fantastic views of the western mountains of Beijing and we didn’t complain. Unfortunately, Kumi had to shut down within a year due to poor management (their staff were great though) and we moved next door to Virtue Inno Valley, managed by Tsinghua Science Park, and where I am writing this now.
We are now an anchor tenant at Virtue Inno Valley and the only VC based here. It’s right above the Zhongguancun subway station and in the heart of what we think will become the Silicon Valley of China. Formerly a building of computer peripherals shops, the government is planning to gradually remove these merchants and replace them with startup cafes, co-working spaces and offices. Next to our tower stand the offices of Sina, Microsoft, and Founder.
We are looking forward to the transformation of Zhongguancun.