Grandseeds

A panda ready to step out of China


July 6, 2019 (Sat). Pandas are cute yet they rarely leave China because of strict legal, financial, and dietary requirements. But in the world of tech startups, there is a panda well positioned to enter the global arena at any time.

Billi Li (李海鹏) was a venture capitalist strong in food and real estate. In recent years, as he saw the popularity of app-triggered food delivery services, he noticed some of their problems and so turned them into a business opportunity by founding Xiong Mao Xing Chu (熊猫星厨, which literally means "panda star kitchen") in April, 2016.

Essentially, he is running a cloud kitchen which offers shared spaces with full-fledged kitchen facilities made for delivery-only restaurants. Food is ordered via apps and each participating restaurant focuses on cooking. Such infrastructure provides food safety, freshness, low cost, and valuable customer data. The Xiong Mao Xing Chu cloud kitchens soon spread to some 120 cities in China, hosting over 500 delivery-only restaurants.

The startup uses the brand-matching XiongMaoXingChu.com as its corporate domain. It also owns the English brand "Panda Selected" and matching PandaSelected.com (which forwards visitors to the corporate domain). This enables the company to go global from day one. Interestingly, it does not seem to own XiongMaoXingChu.cn and PandaSelected.cn is still available for registration as of this writing.

Here is a surprise. Both XiongMaoXingChu.com and PandaSelected.com were registered in the same month the company was established, suggesting that they were acquired together for as little as $20. Let's pause and reflect on the fact that you can start a global enterprise from a $10 domain! Esther Dyson is right. We are not running out of domains -- we are only lacking space in our brains. So, it's time for startup founders to squeeze out their creative juice!

In my opinion, XiongMaoXingChu.com is too long and should be upgraded to its acronym domain XMXC.com (which unfortunately is already owned by the vocational school Xia Men Xing Cai). The company does not seem to own XMXC.cn either. This shows that .com domains are much preferred over .cn domain.

What is the implication for domain investors? The EnglishDotCom domain strategy is alive and well in China. There are many startups like Panda Selected which prefer English-based .com domains. The reason is simple: English is the global language and .com the global extension. If you own such domains, you can sell to China. Domain MLS (multiple listing service) companies such as Afternic makes the selling process easier even if you don't speak Chinese.

Join me on LinkedIn for further discussion.