“In 2012, I decided on a whim to study abroad at Peking University—it was my first time in China,” says Daniel Límon as he accounts how he was serendipitously thrust into the world that would become the focus of his work. He goes on, “I found the country a vivid case study of Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities: flourishing, rich, young and abuzz, yet also wrestling with its own growing pains.” This initial observation is perhaps the common node in Límon’s work with respect to China—the idea that it is a country deep in the tumultuous throws of development. That, although there is volatility and confusion, there exists something much greater: possibility.
With this in mind, Límon, a graduate of Stanford University, founded DLR Ventures—an incubator for Chinese and American entrepreneurs, primarily in the tech industry, to start companies in the US-China space. Since the company’s founding, Límon has taken on projects ranging from e-education to online Chinese slang communities. In selecting ventures, he notes, “A good idea factors in what the market wants. A great one factors in what the market and Chinese leaders want. Chinese leaders are clever and capable people…oftentimes they’ll tell you where the great opportunities are.”
Before founding his incubator, Límon gained the expertise to make such insights through his work in academia and public service. His thesis and research at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business sought to “identify some of the major ‘failure factors’ that have contributed to American tech companies’ struggles in China.” As a liaison officer at the US State Department and an assistant to the former Secretary of Defense William Perry, Límon also gained experience working with East Asia coordinating high-level dialogues and communications.
But for Límon, the private sector is his current focus. He states, “I chose to work on US-China startups because it is one of the few areas where I feel unencumbered to dream up and build deployable solutions that can affect cross-border change from day one. I don’t have to go through approvals or red tape or bureaucracy to make things happen—I just make them happen, and that is awesomely rewarding.” Such an opportunity is indeed a fortunate one, especially given the complicated interplay between the US and Chinese governments and the often-frustrating pace at which cultural interplay seems to move. The opportunity is not lost on Límon. He concludes, “Technology and China are my twin passions, and being able to combine them by working on startup projects in the US-China space is truly a privilege and responsibility.”