The shy geek behind Hellobike – the latecomer that battled for survival in China’s bike sharing industry

It was the only moment of relief in two years of anxiety. In November last year, Yang Lei got confirmation that Alibaba Group Holding’s financial arm, Ant Financial Services, would back his bike sharing start-up Hellobike. It meant nothing less than the continued survival of the company which Yang, a serial entrepreneur, had co-founded two years earlier when he was only 28.

A year on and the anxiety is still there, but Shanghai-based Hellobike has survived a brutal shake out in China’s bike sharing industry, emerging in third spot behind two Beijing-based companies, Ofo and Mobike.

“You need to deal with pressure and anxiety everyday when you are an entrepreneur,” Yang told the South China Morning Post over coffee at the Kempinski Hotel’s cafe in Beijing. “I’m already very satisfied to have experienced that brief moment of exhilaration,” he said, referring to Ant Financial’s investment.

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