Treading On Startup Scene in Hong Kong
On the morning of November 22, 2013, the Sun was yet to rise behind all the tall buildings. I was up and preparing to leave Hong Kong. Streets were quiet, the taxi driver was still stretching his arms while waiting us outside. I was in Hong Kong for a month and working remotely. As a startup founder, there is always a drive to explore the local startup culture and scene.
Hong Kong government is actively promoting and attracting talents into the region. They have built a Science & Technology Parks for concentrating researchers, entrepreneurs and student into a Silicon Valley alike location. The program like Incu-App is most closely resemble to startup incubator/accelerator.
This is a community in a small scale, you need the bigger community support. So, I went to watch the pitch event in CoCoon (a co-working space). There were 5 companies, 3 of them are ecommerce companies, selling products originated in Hong Kong or nearby to Western audience. The quality of pitch (presentation and slides) were quite bad.
Set aside the pitch for now. I chatted with a few founders after the event, one of the issues people here face here is the lack of funding. Funding is difficult here, might be better than before, but still so far away comparing to the US. They actually limit the entrepreneurs here to bootstrap and get to profit earlier. Ecommerce is obviously an easy way to go. But it does not mean that you cannot dream bigger. It might just take longer to get to where you want to go. Sometimes it is not a bad thing. Good stuff takes a longer and more troubled journey.
I think this comes down to the mindset of people here. The mindset of entrepreneurs here are much narrower than entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, New York or other places. Finance and entertainment are still dominant factors here. As the influence of mainland Chinese companies and integration of transportation, it is going to make it harder and harder for it becoming a tech hub.
Let’s end with a positive note there. Food and tech go hand to hand. Just by walking downstairs, I was at a shopping mall. Inside the shopping mall, there are restaurants with variety of food. Don’t like those, take an indoor sky bridge or subway tunnels across the street to the adjacent mall, there are more restaurants and more food. You can get everything you need without going outside to the streets. But if you do, every street corner is a new exploration. For authenticated Chinese food, there is nothing you can beat that.
Hong Kong has its special place, but in tech, it needs a lot of work.