4YFN Shanghai 2019 was the fourth outing of the event in Shanghai, realising its four year ambition to scale and grow in the Chinese market.


This year’s Shanghai show was joined by over 100 exhibitors, more than 100 investment entities, 11 startup communities and thousands of visitors including some of the most senior telecoms executives in the region.

Startups pitched on stage straight to investors while industry leaders delivered insights to packed audiences. In the opening session, living legend Yossi Vardi, the founder of ICQ and 4YFN’s chairman, delivered sage words: “The corporate paradigm of NIH (Not Invented Here) has been replaced with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). That’s why big companies are targeting startups as a source of innovation.

”That sentiment underlines one of the biggest opportunities for participating at an event like 4YFN. Being attached to the world’s biggest mobile event gives startup exhibitors access to leaders in the tech industry they might never otherwise meet.

With so many great startups from around the region and beyond, picking out a few favourites is tricky but here are one or two highlights:

  • The pet lovers among us were really impressed with Fitpet, a slick startup from Korea that uses technology to analyse the health of your favourite furry family members.
  • BrandCard from Malaysia also offered a remarkable demonstration of their digitised business card platform – hopefully signalling an end to the endless piles of business cards at the end of big events.

But of course, the startup of the event was the 4YFN Shanghai Award winner RefundMe from the Netherlands. The startup’s founder Jerome Ibanez delivered a flawless pitch to a spellbound crowd. The judges were impressed by Jerome’s comprehensive understanding of the problem at hand: lengthy, inefficient analogue VAT reclaims at airports. He created a compelling vision for how RefundMe could digitize the process to create a seamless (and profitable!) VAT refund experience.

The 4YFN team weren’t the only ones captivated by this year’s startups. Chadwick Xu, a co-founder and partner of one Shenzhen Valley Ventures – one of China’s most important VCs – told us: “my favourite thing about Four Years From Now is innovation.” And he was by no means alone!

Chadwick was one of many investors to join the conference as a speaker, judge, mentor or visitor. Together they made possible our specially curated events to help investors and startups network together, including our Landing in China Meetup designed to provide a smooth landing to the Chinese market for overseas startups.

A big thanks is owed to all of the attendees who made this year’s 4YFN in Shanghai so special, but our partner communities deserve an extra special shout out all of their support. They brought guests and startups, contributed to content, delivered mentoring and hosted meetups. Thank you so much to 6789 Group, ChinAccelerator, MOX, MomentumWorks, Nihub, Shanghai Technology Innovation Centre, Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), TusStar, Free Entrepreneurs, InnoSpring, Startupbootcamp China and SOSV.

And last but not least, an enormous thank you to Mobile World Capital which brought a 20 strong delegation of startups to China! They made sure the Spanish startup ecosystem was robustly represented and that the bridge from Shanghai to Barcelona was out in full force.

Thanks to everyone who joined in and see you again next year!