Home Articles Meet the East/West entrepreneurial combo changing how Aussies do business in China

Meet the East/West entrepreneurial combo changing how Aussies do business in China


While the focus is often on how business and tech co-founders combine to create successful start-ups, Sinorbis, an emerging Australian digital company helping companies tap into China’s burgeoning online consumer population, brings Western and Eastern expertise together to benefit Australian businesses.

Allen Qu, the Bejing based co-founder, is  an expert in marketing to Chinese digital consumers, having founded Netconcepts, one of the first, and now one of the three largest digital marketing firms in China while Nicolas Chu, the Sydney-based co-founder and CEO leverages his experience implementing major technology platforms for Expedia and Hotelclub to leads the Australian sales and technology operations.

The start-up recently marked its launch in Sydney with the release of a whitepaper exploring trends in Chinese online demand for Australian consumer goods.

The whitepaper titled Stoking the Dragon: Unlocking China’s New Generation of Digital Consumers examines China’s unique online ecosystem, its new generation of consumers, and the cultural and economic differences that have made it historically difficult for Australian and international businesses to operate effectively in China’s online environment.

What does this Sinorbis white paper say?

According to the whitepaper, the opportunity for Australian businesses is staggering, with China’s private consumption rising dramatically – through rapid urbanisation, increasing affluence and the rise of e-commerce – and forecast to grow by another 50 per cent to reach A$8.6 trillion by 2020.

“Chinese consumers are increasingly looking internationally for premium goods and services and Australia is high on their radar, demonstrated by strong year-on-year increases in search volumes for Australian products,” said Nicolas Chu, CEO and co-founder of Sinorbis.

“This is a pivotal time for international businesses to position themselves to meet growing demand from China’s new generation of upper-middle class consumers. Many businesses baulk at doing business in China, but with the right knowledge and local expertise it can be as easy as doing business in Australia,” he said.

Allen Qu and Nicolas Chu, Sinorbis
Allen and Nicolas

Exclusive data in the white paper from one of China’s largest search engines, Sogou, highlights four key industries that draw major Chinese interest: health foods and supplements, travel, real estate and education.

According to Nicolas, these results demonstrate the strength of Australia’s brand in China, and highlight opportunities for Australian businesses to grow, particularly in education and tourism.

“Our data also highlights an upward trend in demand for Australian higher education offerings, with year-on-year increases of 33 per cent in search volume for Australian tertiary courses,” he said.

“Research also shows Chinese students are being driven to Australia by the enriched experience on offer and the high ranking of Australia’s education institutions globally.“

So what can Aussie businesses expect from Sinorbis?

Sinorbis’ comprehensive suite of digital, mobile, marketing and e-commerce services offers Australian businesses a new level of sophistication and expertise in marketing to China’s 413 million digital consumers, who together spent AU$769.2 billion online in 2015.

In addition to custom digital strategy plans they offer Chinese SEO and SEM, social media marketing, content localisation, online reputation management, mobile marketing, and web analytics – all backed by their unique insight into the Chinese digital, social and mobile landscape.

The company is able to provide this new level of sophistication and expertise in marketing to China, through its partnership with Netconcepts.

Dhruv Parashar (VP Product & Technology), Dandan Cheng (COO), Allen and Nicolas
L-R: Dhruv Parashar (VP Product & Technology), Dandan Cheng (COO), Allen and Nicolas

Sinorbis plans to further transform the way Australian businesses address this growing Chinese online demand, and has raised $1.5 million to build an innovative online marketing platform which, once ready, will provide a one-stop-shop for Western companies to generate qualified Chinese leads.

According to Sinorbis, Australian suppliers need to recognise and embrace the cultural, technological and regulatory differences between the Chinese and Western online landscapes, and invest in local expertise if they are to successfully capitalise on this opportunity.

Co-founders Nicolas and Allen bring a wealth of China experience and market knowledge. Since establishing operations in late 2015, Sinorbis has signed with prominent Australian businesses such as REA Group, the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology, Sydney, and the University of Tasmania.

What is Sinorbis doing differently?

What sets you apart from others linking Aussie businesses to China, like Market Engine for example, Anthill asked.

“Online marketing in China is difficult, which means Australian businesses are missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to target Chinese demand efficiently at a time when it is growing by leaps and bounds,” Nicolas told us.

“Why? For years the Internet in China has been regulated by the Great Firewall, which has blocked the major Western digital and social platforms from building a Chinese presence. This in turn has resulted in the growth and development of a parallel Chinese online ecosystem unlike any other in the world.

“While businesses like Market Engine focus on the retail aspect of a business, assisting Australian companies with creating Chinese consumer-facing digital shopfronts, Sinorbis focuses on the marketing side, ensuring that they have a strong online presence in China.

“We have unique local knowledge and insights from an experienced team of Chinese digital natives thanks to our offices in Beijing led by one of the pioneers of digital marketing in China, Allan Qu, and our office in Shanghai led by Dandan Cheng, who for several years led the development of key product categories for eBay in China.

“We also have a strategic and exclusive partnership with Sogou, one of China’s largest search engines, and an international network of digital experts and China specialists, with offices in Sydney, Beijing and Shanghai.”