The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with an old friend of mine from my days in Shanghai, Joseph Constanty. Joseph is a seasoned veteran of the startup scene in China, having created the first indoor mini-golf facility in China, the most-backed shoe in the footwear category on Kickstarter two years in a row, co-founded NextStep Studio that now focuses on food tech, and is now the Director of International at NIU Technologies, the largest smart scooter company in the world. We talk about the early days of being an entrepreneur in China, how he was so successful on Kickstarter, best practices for starting up in China, which countries are difficult for NIU to penetrate and why, and what the future holds for urban mobility. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Topics Discussed and Key Points:
●      Joseph reminisces on his time in Beijing during its “up-and-coming” days in the early 2000s
●      How differently entrepreneurship was regarded in China from 2000 to 2010
●      How Joseph’s footwear design house became the number one seller in the shoe category on Kickstarter in 2013 and 2014
●      The opportunities that came out of Joseph’s time at Tangential Consulting
●      Best practices for setting up a business in China
●      Countries that are particularly more difficult to penetrate
●      Advantages and challenges of working at a company based in China as an ex-pat
●      The evolution, and the future, of urban mobility
Episode Summary:
Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Joseph Constanty, who has been steeped in China's business world for over 16 years. Since 2016, he has been the Director of International at NIU Technologies.
As the largest smart scooter company in the world, NIU has been doubling down on its international expansion efforts as the global economy continues to rebound strongly from the lockdowns of the past year and a half.
Alongside his work with NIU, Joseph is also a Co-Founder and Advisor at NextStep Studio, an accelerator specializing in the food tech and F&B companies in China.
Having entered China back in the early-to-mid 2000s, Joseph reflects on why entrepreneurs were a rare sight back in the day, and the factors that led up to China’s drastic rise to becoming a force to be reckoned with when it comes to innovation and commerce.
He compares Beijing in particular to Southeast Asia. While these countries may differ culturally from China, they are now exhibiting the same drive and resourcefulness that the tier 1 cities are known for. He regards them as primed for exponential growth in the very near future.
Joseph goes on to share how he found success in a variety of fields in China’s startup world; how he helped to build the largest smart scooter company in the world and a shoe brand that became the most funded footwear Kickstarter project two years in a row.
He also describes the advantages and challenges of working at a company based in China as an ex-pat and explains why those looking to found a company in China should consider initially establishing it as a consultancy.
Finally, Joseph speaks on changes in and the future of urban mobility through the years and how COVID has impacted the industry.
Key Quotes:
“[In the early 2000s, entrepreneurs] didn’t exist because, culturally, it wasn’t acceptable for them. Their parents, or those born between 1975 and 1985, needed to get a job, get married, buy a house, have a kid, be financially successful, and do all that by the time they’re 30. Running a startup wasn’t part of that equation.”
“What we took away from Kickstarter was simply the power of storytelling and building a brand from nothing. We were literally building it with almost zero marketing and just riding the Kickstarter traffic and influencing those people that were interested in helping makers at the time through the story we were telling.”

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.