The last two weeks I've had the privilege of meeting Hong Kong entrepreneurs through the introductions of Keith Rumjahn from Coachbase, Hilary Szymujko from Blueprint, Erica and Theodore Ma from CoCoon, the Startup Weekend Hong Kong team, Thomas Pun from Double, and Yat Siu from Outblaze. I've been struck by the growth momentum of the scene, and all the credit goes to the pioneers that invest their time and energy in the city and the ecosystem. I just want to share the things I've learned in the hopes of drawing attention to what is needed for the next stage in growth.
- Strong tech mentorship: Hong Kong actually doesn't lack in general entrepreneur mentorship. Entrepreneurs from a whole range of industries have made their money in Hong Kong, and continue to stay and contribute. The strong need is in specific tech mentorship, both in terms of building tech startups and the technical side of things.
- Bridging the local/expat communities: Hong Kong is both an intensely international and traditional Asian city at the same time. As such, the communities tend to engage separately, and miss out on potential synergies.
- Engaging existing investment capital: There is enough capital in the ecosystem, but most of it is deployed through real estate or the equity market. A lot of people seem to be interested in angel investing, but aren't sure how to do so.
As much as these are challenges, these are also opportunities. Hong Kong is a dynamic business environment where the free market reigns. The connectivity and internationalism of Hong Kong rivals anywhere I've ever been. Infrastructure, including cheap and extensive 4G, efficient and cost-effective transport, and the 2nd contactless smart card system in the world give an edge to Hong Kong as a business city. Consumers demand pragmatism and efficiency to a high standard, and are willing to try out the latest technologies.
On the financial side, Hong Kong is one of the world's largest capital market exchanges. The proximity to the world's largest economy, linked by a local train, is a supreme advantage.
Hong Kong, if it truly embraces innovation, could become a major innovation hub for the Asian Pacific region. I really do think so.