2019 年,是资本的冬天,也将是冒险者的狂欢。

2019 has been a wintry time for capital but an exciting time for the adventurous.

吴世春就是冒险者之一。

Wu Shichun is one such adventurer.

2018年“资管新规”一出,市场上能够出资的LP整体数量减少,到了2019年,VC市场“募资难”趋势延续,创投行业异常冷清。

The release of the ‘New Regulations for Asset Management’ in 2018 spelled a decrease in the number of LPs in the market who could contribute capital. ‘Challenging fund raising’ conditions in the VC market have now extended into 2019, and into an abnormally chilly VC industry.

投中数据显示,上半年VC/PE募资同比腰斩,机构募集完成基金共271支,同比下降 51.69%,募集总规模544.38亿美元,同比下降30.17%。曾有VC大佬感慨,现在是入行近20年来的至暗时刻。

Data from CVSource indicates an enormous reduction in VC/PE capital raisings in the first half of the year across 271 funds, a year-on-year decline of 51.69% to an aggregate of $54.438 billion USD raised, which also represents a drop of 30.17% over the same period. The VC greats could sigh and call it the darkest era in nearly 20 years in the industry.

在凛冬中,吴世春依旧保持火热。

Yet Wu Shichun still holds on to his enthusiasm in this cold winter.

2019年上半年,梅花创投在投资方面仍保持着与前两年几乎相同的节奏,前6个月已投了近30个项目。艾问(iask-media.com)注意到,2019年第一季度,吴世春已完成第五期天使基金的募集,总规模5.325亿人民币。

Plum Ventures has almost kept the same investment pace in the first half of 2019 as for the prior two years, investing in nearly 30 projects in the first six months this year. iAsk (iask-media.com) noticed Wu Shichun’s angel fund completed its fifth financing phase in the first quarter of 2019 with a total AUM of 532.5 million RMB.

五年前,梅花创投还鲜有人知。

Plum Ventures was still a relative unknown 5 years ago.

但被称为“新狼”的吴世春,用了不过5年时间,就已投出趣店、小牛电动、唱吧等300多家企业,项目总市值超过1000亿元,大掌门和趣店更让吴世春收获了1000倍以上的回报。

Wu Shichun, nicknamed the ‘New Wolf’ , took less than 5 years to invest in over 300 companies including Qudian, Niu, and Changba – projects which now boast a total market capitalization of over 100 billion RMB. Da Zhangmen and Qudian in particular have provided Wu Shichun with a more than 1000-fold return on his investment.

“快狠准”。吴世春做投资自有一套逻辑,在他看来,机会就像面对半瓶水,有人看到的是半满,有人看到的是半空。别人看见寒冬,梅花却看到了未来。做早期投资,梅花是在投三年、五年后的独角兽。

“Fast – Ruthless – Precise”. Wu Shichun plays to his own investment logic. The way he sees it, opportunities are like half a glass of water: some see it half full, others half empty. Whereas others might see the dead of winter, Plum sees the future. The early-stage investor, Plum is investing in unicorns 3 or 5 years down the road.

不论是BAT,还是TMD,这些伟大的企业,其实都诞生于资本寒冬之中。

Many great Enterprises, whether BAT or TMD, were actually birthed in a’capital winter’.

艾问独家专访梅花创投创始人吴世春,听他讲“怎么做投资”。

iAsk conducted an exclusive interview with Plum Ventures founder, Wu Shichun, to hear what he has to say about how to invest.

Does investing follow a 2-98 principle?

吴世春自称草根连续创业者,在与艾问的对话中,他提到:自2002年至今,先后创立了商之讯、酷讯等企业,历经5次创业。

Wu Shichun describes himself as a grassroots serial entrepreneur and told iAsk he has founded several companies since 2002, including Shangzhixun and Kuxun, and so has experienced the startup process on 5 occasions.

艾诚:为何没有纵情向前再创办一个企业?是什么让你转型成为投资人?

Gloria Ai: Why not just launch yourself into founding another company? What transformed you into an investor?

吴世春:国家从2015年开始提倡双创,但是我2014年就预感到,中国需要一批新的创投机构,去为蓬勃发展的新兴企业、创业者服务。而人民币基金也会兴起,会和美元基金一样,为创业者提供融资服务。于是我和投资人、合伙人商量,将食神摇摇卖给了美丽说,创立了梅花创投。

Wu Shichun: China began to promote dual ‘innovation and entrepreneurship’ from 2015, although I had already sensed by 2014 that China needed a new suite of VC organizations to go and serve these newly flourishing and growing businesses and entrepreneurs as well as that RMB funds would flourish and would, just like USD funds, provide financing services to entrepreneurs. So I discussed it over with investors and partners, sold Shishen Yaoyao to Meilishuo, and founded Plum Ventures.

艾诚:做早期投资难在哪里?

Gloria Ai: What are the challenges involved in being an early-stage investor?

吴世春:第一,回报周期长;第二,死亡概率很高。早期投资的回报不是二八原则,它是二·九十八原则,2%的头部早期投资人,赚走了几乎全部的回报,剩下的大部分早期投资人赚不到钱。超级明星项目能让投资人赚到超额回报,却寥寥无几。如果你的一个基金投不到超级明星项目,那就是一个非常平庸的基金,甚至是亏损的基金。

Wu Shichun: First of all, the investment cycle is lengthy; secondly, there’s a high mortality rate. Returns from early-stage investing don’t follow a 20-80 principle. It’s 2-98. 2% of the first early investors will generate almost all the investment’s return and most of the remaining early investors don’t make money. ‘Superstar’ projects that can give investors a super-sized return are few and far between. If your fund doesn’t invest in superstar projects, then it will be a very mediocre fund, even loss-making.

艾诚:是什么让你选了早期投资这个赛道?

Gloria Ai: What put you onto the VC investment track?

吴世春:我之前的几次创业都没有大成,心中还是有点缺憾。如果我自己创办一家早期投资机构,并能够帮助很多创业者,这将是我人生的一个重要机会。我对自己的定位是——做创业者背后的超级天使,想像一下,十年后我站在100位已经成功的创业者背后,我是他们的推手,助他们一路走到辉煌,我自己也会满怀荣耀、充满成就感。

Wu Shichun: None of my several previous startup experiences had yielded any enormous success, and I still felt like something was missing. If I were able to found my own early-stage investment organization, and to help a lot of entrepreneurs, then that would be a major opportunity in my life. I position myself as a super angel behind entrepreneurs. Think about it: I’m standing behind 100 now successful entrepreneurs in 10 years’ time. I am their backer. I helped them ascend their path to glory and so I’m also going to feel very proud of that and have a very strong sense of accomplishment.

艾诚:是什么让你坚定地相信,早期投资是适合你去做的?

Gloria Ai: What makes you so sure that early-stage investing is for you?

吴世春:第一是乐观。我多年的创业经验,让我充分相信做早期投资的价值。第二,我对投资的认知。我出手投的第一个项目,大掌门就给我带来了1500倍的回报,这给我了非常大的鼓励,让我对做早期投资更加坚定。而后,我又做了像趣店、小牛电动等一些明星案例,这些都让我更有信心。第三,同理心。梅花创投的口号是“做最懂创业者的早期投资机构”。我有5次创业经历,创业者在每个阶段最需要什么,我再了解不过。现在我每年差不多要见1500个创业者,我有很强的同理心,能完全站在创业者的角度思考问题。

Wu Shichun: The first is optimism. My many years of startup experience have given me ample confidence in the value of early-stage investing. Secondly, my awareness and perceptions around investing. The first project I invested in, Da Zhangmen, earned a 1500-fold return. It was a great encouragement and firmed my resolve in regard to early-stage investing, after which I again invested in some star-studded cases, such as Qudian, NIU (Smart Electric Scooter Company), and so on, all of which instilled me with greater confidence. The third is empathy. Plum Ventures’ motto is: “To be the early-stage investment organization that best understands the entrepreneur.” I have gone through the startup experience five times, and couldn’t have a better understanding of what an entrepreneur needs most at each stage. I’m now meeting around 1,500 entrepreneurs every year, and have a strong sense of empathy. I’m able to reflect on the issues totally from the entrepreneur’s point-of-view.

艾诚:你觉得创始人们碎片化的需求有共性吗?

Gloria Ai: Do you feel there’s a common chord running through these many entrepreneurs’ disparate needs?

吴世春:有,提升认知。创业者可能曾经只是一个工程师,是一个产品经理,他需要找到更强的人,看到更大的世界。所以帮助创业者提升认知层次,这是非常迫切的。其他的例如融资、招人、方向把握,不同的创业者会有不同的需求,但提升认知是普遍的需求。

Wu Shichun: Yes, for improved awareness. They might have been just an engineer or product manager and need to find some stronger people and to see a greater world. So helping to enhance an entrepreneur’s cognitive level is really urgent. Different entrepreneurs will have different needs when it comes to other aspects, e.g. financing, recruitment, and direction, but the enhancement of one’s perceptions and awareness is a universal need.

Are ‘village youths’ driving China’s economy?

投资就是投人,吴世春看人自有一套方法论。他认为,新经济的核心是人,是优秀的企业家,一个企业只能在企业家的思维空间里成长,创始人的学习、认知能力是团队的天花板。商业模式、经济模型、用户数据等是可以被计算的,唯一不可以计算的是创始人的成长潜力,一个顶级的创始人,爆发出来的潜力非常难估量。

Investing is about investing in people and Wu Shichun has his own methodology when it comes to evaluating a person. In his view, people are the core of the new economy – outstanding entrepreneurs – and a company can only grow and develop within the entrepreneur’s cognitive space. The learning and perceptual abilities of the entrepreneur acts as a ceiling for the team. Calculations can be run for business patterns, economic models, user data, and so on, but you cannot calculate the capacity for an entrepreneur to grow. It is very hard to estimate the latent potential that could erupt from a top entrepreneur.

吴世春曾在公开场合提出一个公式:一流的团队+三流的方向=二流以上的项目;三流的团队+一流的方向=四流的结果。一个企业的价值,90%在团队身上。一个团队的价值80%是在创始人身上。

Wu Shichun has publicly voiced the formula that: a first class team + third class direction = a second class or better project; a third class team + first class direction = a fourth class result. 90% of a company’s value rests on the team’s shoulders. 80% of the team’s value rests on the founder’s shoulders.

吴世春提到,梅花创投投资的创始人普遍具有三个特质:贫穷(poor)、聪明(smart)、欲望(desire)。

Wu Shichun notes the founders that Plum Ventures invests in generally possess three characteristics: they are poor, smart, and have desire.

艾诚:你为什么相信具备这三大特质的创业者会取得巨大成就?

Gloria Ai: Why do you believe entrepreneurs with these three main characteristics will rise to greatness?

吴世春:这种PSD,可能比PHD更适合创业。聪明当然是创业的一个前提,而贫穷会让一个年轻人有强烈的欲望,去改变自己的人生。国内创业成功的PSD类年轻人,至少有70%以上,不论是马云、刘强东,还是王兴都是。PSD青年,他们进入大公司,做到中层,不那么草根了,但身上那股改变命运的强烈欲望和动力仍然存在,而那种家世很好,背景闪闪发光的人,我们反而会谨慎投。这样的人选择太多了,这件事干不成,他也有另一个回报丰厚的地方可以去,很难有破釜沉舟的气势。PSD类的小镇青年,是最有价值的创业者,他们甚至是中国现在蓬勃向上的主要驱动力之一。

Wu Shichun: These ‘PSDs’ might well be more suited to a startup than ‘PhDs’. Intelligence is of course a prerequisite for founding a startup, whereas being poor will provide a young person with a very strong desire to go out and change their life. At least 70% of successful founders in China are ‘PSD youths’ – whether that’s Ma Yun, Liu Qiangdong, or Wang Xing. ‘PSD youths’ enter large companies and do make it to middle management, so they’re not ‘ultra grassroots’, but that powerful desire and motivation they carry to change their destiny will keep on going. On the other hand, we are actually very cautious about investing in people from well-to-do families with glowing backgrounds. Such people have too many options. If they don’t succeed at one thing, then they can turn in another direction offering rich rewards. It is difficult for them to truly go all-in. ‘PSD village youth’ offer the most value. We could even characterize them as one of the main driving forces propelling China forward today.

大掌门叶凯、趣店罗敏、赤子城刘春河都是给吴世春带来高倍回报的“小镇青年”。有段插曲是,在一段项目发展的困难时期,吴世春曾两次借款给叶凯。

Da Zhengmen’s Ye Kai, Qudian’s Luo Min, and Newborn Town’s Liu Chunhe are all ‘village youths’ who returned Wu Shichun’s investment many times over. At one stage Wu Shichun ended up lending money twice to Ye Kai during a difficult period in the project’s development.

艾诚:你自己也是贫穷、聪明和有欲望的代表吗?

Gloria Ai: Are you yourself also a representative of ‘poor’, ‘smart’ and having ‘desire’?

吴世春:是。如果不考上大学,我就是家乡的一个放牛娃。我从七线的小县城来到北京,踏入到创投圈这个领域,一路上升,但我永不对现状满足,不断的创业,不断的自我更新。贫穷、聪明,有欲望,是我身上很显著的标签。

Wu Shichun: Yes. If I hadn’t matriculated to a university, then I would be herding cattle in the countryside. I came to Beijing from a small ‘seventh tier’ county town and subsequently made it into VC circles. It’s been a smooth journey. But I’m never satisfied with my circumstances and I’m always being an entrepreneur and updating myself. ‘Poor’, ‘smart’, and having ‘desire’: that would be a very obvious tagline on my shoulders.

艾诚:“如果投资只是给钱,一定是我的耻辱”,你为什么这么说呢?

Gloria Ai: “If investment were just about giving money, that’d be to my shame”. Why do you say that?

吴世春:对梅花创投来说,我们是给创始人开第一张支票。如果只是给他钱,而不能够帮助他,不仅投资很容易打水漂,他的创业也很难成功。所以我们不仅要投钱,最重要的是给他资源,给他帮助,梅花创投一向以能够帮到创业者为荣。

Wu Shichun: From the perspective of Plum Ventures, we are issuing entrepreneurs with their first check. If we are just about giving people money, and are otherwise unable to help, then not only is the investment very easily ‘frittered away’, but they are going to have a lot of trouble as well in their startup. So we don’t just invest our money. The most important thing is to provide resources, to give help, and Plum Ventures has always taken pride in being able to help entrepreneurs.

艾诚:商业模式、技术、环境,一直在变,你怎么成为真正助力创业者的超级天使?

Gloria Ai: Business models, technologies, environments – they’re always changing. How did you become a ‘super angel’ who can provide serious help to entrepreneurs?

吴世春:不断提升自己的能力,为创业者赋能。过往的案例代表着过去的成绩和运气,靠过去混日子肯定会有露馅的时候。一个投资人必须不断产出新的作品,才能让创业者觉得这个超级天使投资人有价值。一个无法自我迭代、提升思维认知、与时俱进的投资人势必会被社会淘汰。

Wu Shichun: I’m constantly improving my own abilities to help empower entrepreneurs. Past cases just represent previous achievements or good fortune. Riding on the coattails of the past will inevitably suffer a reality check at some point. An investor has to constantly generate new things to convince entrepreneurs this super angel investor is valuable. An investor who can’t reinvent themselves, improve their thinking and cognition, and remain on the cutting edge will definitely be phased out socially.

艾诚:现在大家都在提寒冬,你觉得这个冬天会持续多久?

Gloria Ai: Everyone is now saying we are in a ‘winter’. How long do you think this ‘winter’ will last?

吴世春:对于寒冬,不能人云亦云,随波逐流。我们坚定地Long China(看多中国),相信中国国运隆隆,在未来十年持续变好。虽然现在各种因素导致经济看起来点冷,但是对于新经济,对于创新创业,我们是坚定看多的。我相信十年后中国的经济还能够再翻一番,从现在的13万亿美元到30万亿美元,会有超15万亿美元的增量,这个巨大的增量里面,一定涌现出巨大的投资机会。

Wu Shichun: You can’t just go along with the crowd and follow others’ opinions when it comes to ‘winters’ . We are very firmly ‘Long China’ and believe that there is plenty of future prosperity in store. We will continue to do better and better over the next 10 years. Although the economy looks a little frosty right now for a variety of factors, we are firmly ‘long’ when it comes to the new economy, innovation and entrepreneurship. I think China’s economy might still double from here given another 10 years, from 1.3 trillion USD today to 3 trillion USD with growth of over 1.5 trillion USD. Investment opportunities will certainly come bubbling up from within this enormous quantity of growth.

艾诚: 预见未来,十年后的梅花创投和吴世春会是什么样?

Gloria Ai: Looking to the future, where will Plum Ventures and Wu Shichun be in 10 years?

吴世春:我今年43岁。做早期投资,我还可以干20年,干30年。只要保持心态年轻,相信我60岁的时候,依然能够跟创业者打成一片,接受新生事物,依然能够去理解他们的困难、欲望和诉求。当然,可能管理的钱会比现在更多,投的企业成功率会比现在更高。我相信十年后梅花也好,我本人也好,仍会保持绽放的姿态。

Wu Shichun: I’m 43 this year. I can see myself doing early-stage investing for another 20 or 30 years. As long as I can maintain a youthful attitude then I think I’ll still be hanging out with entrepreneurs and taking in new things when I am 60. I will still be able to understand their difficulties, desires, and complaints. Of course, I might be managing more money than I do today, and my investment success rate might be higher than today. I believe that Plum Ventures will be doing very well, as will I, in 10 years, and that I’ll still be adhering to a vibrant, positive attitude.