In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with serial entrepreneur and angel investor Gregory Prudhommeaux. Gregory is the Founder of NextStep Studio, an accelerator for businesses in the food and food tech verticals, based in Shanghai. He is also the Co-President at La French Tech Shanghai, a community aimed at gathering the local tech community with an interest in France and building bridges between major innovation hubs. Gregory describes the Shanghai startup scene today in comparison to both France and North America; his experience being a foreign entrepreneur in China; what most Westerners get wrong about food and beverage in China; why Shanghai should never be considered an accurate representation of China as a whole; how the food tech industry has sprouted over the last decade in China; and the impact of the health and wellness industry on the F&B industry in China. Enjoy!
Gregory is the Co-President at La French Tech Shanghai, a community aimed at gathering the local tech community with an interest in France and building bridges between major innovation hubs. The community facilitates the cross-fertilization of competencies and helps French businesses & entrepreneurs to foster their development in China.
Gregory kicks off the conversation with his thoughts on the evolution of Shanghai’s startup scene and how it compares to France’s and the U.S.’s. While many foreigners have seized the opportunity to set up shop in China, it is a difficult process, particularly when it comes to acquiring seed funding.
Unlike France, which offers a number of financing options for the aspiring startup entrepreneur, China is a place where knowing the right person—and knowing how to build a relationship with them—is probably the most important factor. Gregory says that the U.S. is more casual when it comes to networking, whereas “it is a bit trickier” in China.
Calling Shanghai “the Los Angeles or the San Francisco of China”, Gregory says that the technologically advanced city of 25 million does not represent China’s market as a whole. This is for many reasons, including the transitory living situation of many in Shanghai, its multiculturalism, as well as Shanghai’s relative independence from fellow Tier 1 cities and the seat of power in China, Beijing.
Gregory goes on to speak on his journey as an entrepreneur and investor in China and why he specifically chose to specialize in F&B. He explains what sets this space apart compared to the West and how Chinese attitudes toward food and beverage shape the industry. Finally, he describes the merging of food and tech and how COVID-19 accelerated many developments that were already underway.
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.