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26 July, 2019 - 19:27 By News Desk

Crayfish.io adds funding capability to strategic armoury to help Cambridge startups woo China

Cambridge startup Crayfish.io is focusing its expanding business on three core categories as it establishes itself as the full service provider for business engagement with China.

The global online platform – which was the first online service for businesses looking to recruit qualified Chinese bi-lingual freelancers and staff when it launched in 2017 - is now recognised as the go-to destination for businesses wanting help with breaking into the lucrative but often challenging Chinese market. 

On top of its established business channels providing ‘Talent’ and ‘Network’ opportunities, Crayfish.io is also focusing on a third strand, ‘Capital’ – which, as well as giving businesses and startups assistance with their business plans, China strategies and related fundraising pitches, also helps with execution support and investor relations. 

Most significantly, Crayfish now has the ability to provide startups and scaleups with capital via its recently launched new initiative, the Crayfish Accelerator programme, which is being funded initially by UK-China Enterprise Fund (UKCE). 

Crayfish founder and CEO, Ting Zhang – who has a wealth of experience after running her own successful China consultancy for 16 years - says: “I always wanted to provide a more efficient solution to cross-cultural barriers for UK-China trade and business and, in 2017, I finally found a way to achieve that: Crayfish.io’s online platform was inspired by Uber and AirBnB and uses cutting-edge technology to connect cross-border supply and demand for Chinese business expertise.”

Given the continuing China-US trade wars and the uncertainty of Brexit, Ting says it’s never been a better time for businesses, however small, to include a China strategy.

She says: “Chinese investment is booming in the UK, increasing by as much as 14 per cent last year – and so this is a great time to be delivering on exports as well as on inward investment. 

“From a UK perspective, what’s happening between China and the US isn’t a bad thing – because as the US closes its tech door to China, the door to British tech and services companies opens.

“And, in light of what’s happening with Brexit, China should be top priority as a strategic market to consider for UK business looking for alternative overseas opportunities. 

“But while doing business with one of the world’s largest markets and richest economies is an exciting and attractive prospect – on the flip side, there is a general lack of resources when tackling the Chinese market, which can make things difficult especially for smaller businesses. And there are also considerable IP risks to be aware of for a tech company. 

“China is not an easy market which is why it requires funding and handholding. And which is why Crayfish.io’s involvement is important - because, on top of the financial investment and training that comes with our Accelerator programme, we are there to provide the essential handholding and support, which continues well beyond the programme.” 

Crayfish.io has gone from strength to strength after receiving its initial 2017 funding from respected Cambridge serial entrepreneurs, Dr Jonathan Milner and Dr David Cleevely. The company recently closed another funding round from a Hong Kong business angel which is helping the Cambridge business to grow and expand beyond the Cambridge-London-Oxford triangle. Plans have already been made for launching in the North in the autumn. 

Crayfish.io’s ‘Talent’ division, meanwhile, continues to focus on recruitment, including sourcing and supply chain, translation services, sales and marketing, setting up in China, and local human resources support. It also provides market insights and assists with IP strategies and registration.

The ‘Network’ side of the business concentrates on making important introductions to partners, forging Government relationships, as well as providing training in Chinese business culture, and sharing knowledge via regular China business webinars and workshops.

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