Beijing is a City. Written properly, it merits not only the capital “C,” but, rather, a full BEIJING IS A CITY. City as declarative statement. A true City State, in that Beijing is a State of Bei(ji)ng.
The participants in the first CAMP (China Angels Mentorship Program) are halfway through their two-week Beijing accelerator and I’m here with them, as are Randall Howard, Chris Flood, and Peter Evans — the other North American mentors.
We’ve seen a lot.
Beijing is a perfect roaring fire, an fugue of energy and passion, a state of constant movement. Today’s Beijing wants to go fast and, in so doing, creates a vortex that surreptitiously beckons rather than aggressively pulls you in.
Beijing is a new, magnetically connected to an old. Such has been the experience of CAMP startup founders who have entered a reality uniquely different from what they experience in Canada, because the experience of Beijing is one that defies the mundane, overreaches that which we have once accessed, challenges what we do not only think we know about the outside world, but understandings of our interactions within it.
In reflecting upon the history and trajectory of the ventures that won them admission to CAMP, these whip-smart entrepreneurs are discovering things that defy description, like colors that we begin to perceive as textures, then realize that we actually have no perception because the entirety of our collective points of reference are flawed, missing pieces, and perhaps little more than historical anomalies. Such are the realities of a city where unicorns eat rocket fuel and grow beyond all comprehension of size and heft.
To begin to understand Beijing and one’s place within it is to play a dangerous game. One without end, because, as our CAMPers will discover, Beijing is an ongoing experience, marked not by things as unidimensional as wins and losses, but by an ebb and flow that simply and often painfully takes a very long time to comprehend. In deeply visceral ways, Beijing doesn’t mirror life, it is part of the fabric of life itself. A continuum, a series of internal checkpoints, a window to and from the world and perhaps more.