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Opening of Tradeshift's new office in Shanghai - Speech by Hans Henrik Pontoppidan

The following is the speech given by Secretary General of Danish-Chinese Business Forum, Hans Henrik Pontoppidan at the Opening of Tradeshift China's new office in Shanghai on 15 May 2018.

Distinguished guests – Ladies & Gentlemen - Dàjiā hǎo!

I am honored to stand here today to make my contribution to the celebration of the opening of Tradeshift’s Shanghai Office.

It made me really happy, when I was invited to make a speech, as I have followed Tradeshift’s growth very intensely the last two years, with particular focus on Tradeshift’s China operations.

I stand here, as the Secretary General of Danish-Chinese Business Forum, but I also feel that I stand here as a business friend. Shortly after I took the position as Secretary General at DCBF, in the summer of 2016, you guys became a member of our business forum, which strives to enhance business opportunities between our two countries, within the framework provided by our respective governments. I am of course aware that Tradeshift’s Head Office now is based in San Francisco, where Christian Lanng is based, but two out of three founders still work from Copenhagen, Denmark. Gert Sylvest, being responsible for Tradeshift Frontiers, and Mikkel Hippe Brun, being responsible for Tradeshift’s China operations.

To be honest, when Tradeshift became member of DCBF, I didn’t quite understand your offerings at the outset, but I quickly decided to make a deep dive into understanding – what I discovered quickly – are unique offerings; and I am still very impressed with the achievements you have made to this date. Mikkel Hippe Brun; I was very pleased, not only to attend, but also to experience when you received the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 2017’ award, issued by Danish Chamber of Commerce in China, here in Shanghai in November 2017.

Today I am here again. In Shanghai, a World mega City and a city of opportunities. Although Shanghai is the natural entry point into China these days – replacing Hong Kong’s previous role – mainland China is not just a country you jump into to succeed with your business.

I believe, that everybody here in this room can agree with me, that success in China is not something you just get – it is something you carefully and strategically plan for, combined with hard work and rapid implementation. The fact that you already have more than 100 employees in Suzhou and representation, among other places, in Chongqing, speaks for itself.  And to enter China as a platform provider – that requires the right proportion of knowledge, courage, energy, attitude, risk and entrepreneurial spirit to succeed. Luckily, at Tradeshift you have loads of it all!

If I’ve got my numbers right, Tradeshift now employs more than 650 people with representation in 13 countries. Your shareholders have invested more than 400 million USD in the development of Tradeshift’s eco platform offerings, which again has attracted more than 500 multinational customers and 1.5 million suppliers generating already what equates to more than 200 bn US of underlying turnover on behalf of your customers. Very impressive.

I mention this, because Tradeshift relatively early became a success among the very large global companies, who saw the benefit of your offerings and in turn had the bargaining power to accelerate your offerings on a big scale. You are now at the stage, where you can benefit on the network effects which add to the speed going forward. My luck, being the Secretary General for DCBF, is that in your initial global success, you missed Denmark. It is my luck, in the sense, that I now with great success can make the Danish companies aware of your offerings and thus in that way offer value to our members. Thank you for that.

Tradeshift’s offerings are very attractive - but also your offerings in China are exceptionally interesting. You have a unique strategic partnership with Baiwang -one of only two companies in China authorized and licensed to offer tax control hardware connected directly to the Golden Tax System. Baiwang’s APP’s are available on the Tradeshift platform and offers the possibility for Tradeshift customers to validate their invoices (fā piào) and to do VAT clearing. Combine that with Tradeshift’s offer capability to handle Pro Forma invoicing, or the possibility to offer supply side financing are all very interesting. The fact that you can make the CFO 100% compliant speaks for itself. I think this is something that speaks to all foreign companies operating in China. Keeping the CFO out of jail – so to speak.

DCBF also works closely with Tradeshift Frontiers and Deloitte Digital in Denmark aiming to develop a pilot project using, among others, blockchain and fracture code. We have named the project VERIFIED DANISH, and the aim is to strengthen Danish e-commerce business with China through combining elements of authenticity, ‘track- and trace’ and storytelling, which hopefully will result in a change of an initial export ‘push’ to a ‘pull’ from the Chinese consumers, due to the fact that they feel comfortable with product origin and quality.

Danish companies have previously had great success on the Chinese market – one example is the Danish company Bestseller, who now have more than 7,000 outlets in China. In fact, Bestseller China has grown to be far larger than Bestseller Europe – and this is an achievement I imagine that Tradeshift China also have a possibility to obtain – i.e. becoming even larger than the already-successful Tradeshift eco-system in the West.

With these words, I wish Tradeshift and Tradeshift China all the best in your future endeavors – to express this, I have brought a small symbolic gift for you. It is a vase made by the Danish artist, Bjørn Wiinblad, who would have turned 100 years old this September, and who has gotten his revival in shops and art museums across Denmark. He is, among other things, famous for his art with “faces”, and he has made this edition with “long noses” (Dà bízi). I want this to remind you that you are on foreign grounds in China, so learn from - and with - China, and succeed together with all your Chinese business partners that are here to celebrate with you today.