China’s venture capitalists typically invest in software. But these days, more of them are also betting big on emerging local brands developing everything from high-end ice cream to coffee and tea to one-size-fits-all bras. Their growth strategies are similar—and risky: Buy online ads to grow fast, and pay internet celebrities to promote their wares on apps such as Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.
The startups are betting that Chinese consumers are finally ready to embrace upstart brands at the expense of foreign and domestic incumbents. And VCs have come around to that view as well. In this story, we look at seven of the most promising consumer goods startups.