The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with a very good friend of mine, Cyril Ebersweiler, General Partner @ SOSV The Accelerator VC, who is best described as a visionary punk. We begin our conversation talking about how he ended up in China, first as an intern with Carrefour later becoming their first eCommerce Project Manager all the way back in 2002, predating the first iPhone by 5 years just to put that in perspective for you. Fast forward to 2009 which is when we first met in the North-East of China in a coastal city called Dalian. This is also where he met Sean O’Sullivan the now Managing Director of SOSV which back then was more of a super-angel fund or family office fund, whichever you prefer. I ask Cyril to tell about why the two of them decided to start investing in early-stage tech in China and what that conversation was like when even Silicon Valley was in it’s adolescence. We talk about spinning up accelerators in China as an investment model and why Shenzhen was the best place in the world to launch a hardware accelerator, due in large part to the ’shanzai’ movement which we explain in the show., and we talk about the impact crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter have had on the world of hardware startups, ending with a prediction of where the next biggest company will come from.

Show Notes

Today on The Negotiation, Cyril Ebersweiler shares 20 years of business experience working with various brands in China.
Cyril began his career as an eCommerce project manager for Carrefour, launching China’s first online retail platform. From there, he worked with Adidas for four months before making the switch to Air France, where he would work for the next three years. Air France at the time was taking major steps to invest and promote greater relationships in China.
From Air France, Cyril joined TBWA and became heavily involved in the company’s marketing efforts. Initially, Cyril intended to work with TBWA because he wanted to go to the country in the pre-iPhone days when Japan was the leader in mobile technology. Cyril believes that this experience gave him great insight into the future of mobile marketing and eCommerce capabilities. Cyril’s work eventually brought him back to China, in Dalian, where he met investor Sean O’Sullivan. The two worked together with technology startups in China.
When it comes to the difference between American and Chinese entrepreneurs, Cyril says that while the Chinese are incredibly efficient in their workflow, their marketing in other countries could improve. Foreigners looking to invest in China, on the other hand, sometimes have trouble adapting to the local culture.
In 2011, Cyril founded the venture capital corporation HAX in Shenzhen. When asked why he decided for the company to be based in Shenzhen, Cyril says that “just by being [in a specific location], [companies] are automatically augmented by the ecosystem around them.” Since Shenzhen is known as the “Silicon Valley of Hardware”, Cyril intends to tap into local resources—from large brands down to mom-and-pop stores—that would maximize his company’s capabilities. 

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.