One of the biggest money-making opportunities in Chinese startups has little to do with sexy subjects like media or messaging. It’s the crop of business-to-business unicorns with names like Truck Alliance, Meicai and Doumi. Their mission? Rationalizing the layers of middlemen and subcontractors that dominate key sectors like trucking, food distribution and the labor market.
China’s economy is larded with structural inefficiencies, the result of a herky-jerky transition from a command economy to a hybrid free market. The jerry-rigged solutions to economic problems left from conflicting and constricting regulations have created new opportunities for technological disruption. Among the investors making a bet are Hillhouse Capital, ZhenFund and Chinese tech giant Tencent.