MaRS Discovery District is a business incubator located in downtown Toronto. For two years we had been part of their mentorship program for start ups and had recently been assigned to a new advisor named Aron.
At our first meeting with Aron we described our new research project and what Jet had been telling us about opportunities for our program in China.
Aron had a look on his face that seemed both amused and amazed. “You know, I’ve been to China over 50 times in the past several years”, he said. “I’ve had startup businesses there that have acquired millions of dollars in investment money. It’s a fantastic, exciting place”.
“Well now, THAT’S interesting”, I thought to myself.
A wild kind of synchronicity seemed to be blossoming before my eyes. I carried on, mentioning that we had already started talking to potential partners in Beijing, at the Communications University.
Aron then mentioned that he was currently working as a liaison between the Ontario Centres for Excellence and a new group of Chinese investors to find ten qualified Canadian businesses that were interested in exploring the Chinese market.
On the table was $200,000 in angel round investment money and a two week trip to Beijing to network and connect with corporate leaders and investors in China.
“Perhaps you should apply”, said Aron. “The deadline is in two weeks”.
Two short months prior to this conversation, China was not even a passing thought. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, a doorway had appeared that seemed to hold forth an amazing opportunity.
And so begins our great China adventure.