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14 February 2019 - Jann Raveling

The magic of bicycles, flower stalls and book shops


Jiani Chen and her business start-up App CN have moved to Bremen

Enabling Western companies to access the Chinese app market - this is the objective of App CN
Enabling Western companies to access the Chinese app market - this is the objectiveof App CN © bremeninvest/Frank Pusch

Jiani Chen recently moved to Bremen. The energetic young Chinese woman founded the start-up App CN in the Hanseatic city and is now looking to kick-start her international business. She loves things about Bremen that many locals would take for granted.

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get” – when Jiani Chen describes her life, she likes to quote the famous line from Forrest Gump. Raised in China, Chen lived in Tel Aviv until only a few months ago and had only ever vaguely heard of Bremen. Now the 24-year-old is running her own start-up and has swapped mediterranean sunshine for the grey weather of northern Germany.

For Chen, Bremen has many endearing quirks. “I love all the cyclists! Even the youngest kids are out and about on their bikes. It's not like that in China, where people rely on cars, public transport or electric scooters.” Unsurprisingly, one of her first purchases was a bicycle.

Besides enjoying the freedom of her own transport, she appreciates the city's book shops – there are very few of them in China, where everyone reads on their smartphone. She is also taken by the flower stalls at the market. “People here try to live healthier and more beautiful lives than in China,” she says. “Flowers are reserved for very special occasions there.”

Why the Germans are dinosaurs when it comes to smartphones

Chen is an app expert. In China and in Tel Aviv, where she completed her second degree, she worked in smartphone app sales and marketing for the Chinese market. Now she has set up her own company, App CN GmbH.

She feels very comfortable in the coworking space Rent24 in the centre of Bremen.
She feels very comfortable in the coworking space Rent24 in the centre of Bremen. © bremeninvest/Pusch

Her objective is to give Western companies access to a huge market. 800 million Chinese access the internet on their smartphones every day, and two-thirds of them use mobile payments – cash has had its day here. “Smartphone culture in China differs significantly from that in Germany. We are glued to our smartphones, we use it for everything. We even order our food in restaurants via apps,” she says. Chen was born in Hangzhou, the vast metropolis where China's largest internet company, Alibaba, is based.

“That's why the smartphone market is so lucrative for foreign companies. It's a goldmine,” she adds. On top of facilitating access to this market, she also helps with marketing the apps. After all, the competition in this huge market is fierce.

Overcoming hurdles

Launching an app successfully in China is not easy. Instead of a central Google App Store, there are 200 to 300 different stores where users can obtain their apps. What's more, many companies first have to register their own company locally before they can release an app in China. App CN can also help in this respect. “It's almost impossible to do it alone,” she explains.

And then there are the cultural differences. “In China, hardly anyone uses email outside of work. App programmers are advised to use a WeChat login for registration, for example,” says Chen. “There was a company looking to launch an app in China that measures the user's monthly data volume. But it failed because this function is already built into Chinese smartphones.” This type of mistake can be avoided by seeking comprehensive advice, she adds.

Cross-border cooperation

While Jiani Chen likes to fight her own battles, she does have backup. She runs the business in Bremen on her own, but she can call on the help of her investor's teams in Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing. “I like to keep busy and am always working on new things. I'm adventurous,” she says of herself. She is already looking for additional skilled staff in the region and beyond, as demand is high. Many of her customers are based in the USA, while others are based in Germany and the Nordic countries.

Finding a start-up atmosphere and like-minded people

Her office is a co-working space run by Rent24. “I thrive on dialogue. I like to have inspiring people around me to talk to and bounce ideas off. The co-working space is buzzing – people from many walks of life come here.” The team at Bremeninvest gave her the idea to try out co-working. “We spoke to a number of relocation agencies before we made our decision. Bremeninvest was the most professional and reliable, which convinced us to come to Bremen,” she says.

She has not regretted the move so far. Alongside her work, she is currently putting all her energy into learning German, although she admits with a laugh that she holds little hope of mastering all the cases. The only thing she misses is the sun, which is why she is eagerly awaiting the summer.

If you are interested in moving to Bremen from abroad, please contact Matthias Hempen, Corporate Service and Sales, Asia Director at Bremeninvest. Tel: +49 (0)421 960 0127, matthias.hempen@wfb-bremen.de.

Matthias Hempen

Director Asia

+49 (0) 421 9600-127


Matthias Hempen

Director Asia

+49 (0) 421 9600-127


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