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Can HK become an innovation Hub ? (Discussion)

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Can START-UPs really thrive in Hong Kong?


Here's a guy who says, "yes!"

Part-1: What is a Start-up Incubator

Through the Eyes of Youth: Simon Squibb (Part 2)


Published on May 4, 2015

Simon Squibb is the founder and CEO of NEST, the largest and only full-service startup incubator in Hong Kong. Student Matthew Cheung sat down with Simon and one of his young associates, Jessica, to talk about NEST and the prospects for Hong Kong's startup ecosystem and overall competitiveness.


Comment - UniversityOf Truth

It is good to hear people talking confidently like this about Hong Kong. But there are some real issues:
+ Money: Yeah, you can raise some start-up money from friends and family. But what about the next stage? And how do the early stage Angels find an exit?
+ Market Size; The scale of a business is limited by the size of the Market. And the HK market is much smaller than in the UK or the US. Can you really run a China-related business in HK? It is not easy. Many co's have found this to be very challenging
Is Simon just "talking his own book"? Maybe. Maybe not. If we see more profitable co's grow up in HK, he will be right.

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Entrepreneurship, Austrian Economics, and the Cryptorevolution | Patrick Byrne


He talks about the Costs of centralizing knowledge


And he has the EXCELLENT idea of replacing Wall Street with Bitcoin-like block chain trading...


To eliminate Wall Street's shortcomings:
+ Easy to manipulate
+ Front running
+ Deep capture
(skip to 56 minutes in)

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UPDATE on HK Start-up news (from China Daily, Aug. 20)


HK was the host of this year's RISE conference, spanning July 31 - Aug.1


This attracted over 500 start-ups from 70 countries.


And afterwards, 1,000 attendees participated in the Global Youth Entrepreneurs forum 2015


Too many graduates?

+ Only 73.4% of university grads are employed in middle class jobs

+ An increasing number are being hired to fill office clerk jobs

Start-ups are thought to be a solution, to create more good jobs


HK is about to invest HK$300 million in a fund to help young people develop their own businesses


The RISE conference had a pitch contest,


+ The Top 3 spots when to HK-based start-ups

+ Alphas: new start-ups, with strong pitches... and hope to become:

+ Unicorn: a company getting a $1 billion valuation from fundraising


The contest is expected to develop those who can make stronger pitches in the future


After HK, Singapore had the greatest number of participants in the conference.

Networking events were expected to bring the two cities closer together


The tech start-up boom may help make the world a smaller place, and encourage new opportunities



+ More than just funding

+ Mentors with experience, who are will to help young people gain relevant experience (and avoid failure?)


Tony Hsieh, of Zappos, says:

"Chase the Vision, not the money; the money will end up following you."

(Maybe, says I, but only if your vision is fresh and credible)

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Check out a new Robotics company, Hanson, which has just moved to HK, from Texas:


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Silicon Valley is madly in love with startups that promote the “sharing economy” (think Uber for cars, Shyp for packages, or Liquidspace for office space). All of these companies have raised eye-popping amounts of money from eager investors. Now that popularity is going global. Recently Tujia.com, China’s answer to home-sharing site Airbnb, closed a US$ 300m funding round. Investors agreed on a company valuation of over US$ 1 billion, which clears the way for Tujia to join the ranks of ‘unicorns’, the (ghastly, in our opinion) nickname for tech startups that join the billion-dollar club.

Tujia’s investors are a “who’s who” of the fast-growing Chinese venture capital ecosystem. The ongoing implosion of the Chinese equity markets does not appear to be giving them pause. Taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi is currently in talks to raise up to US$ 1.5 billion; in the telecom sector, Xiaomi (popularly known as the “iPhone killer”) raised US$ 1.1 billion in December 2014 at a US$ 46 billion valuation.

(Fun fact: The ‘Tujia’ are a Chinese ethnic minority best known for their peculiar wedding ceremonies, where it is mandatory for the bride to cry inconsolably. Hysterical cursing at the matchmaker is encouraged, but apparently not compulsory).

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The NEST HK Model : "Demo Days" for Grads of their Accelerator programs


Hatching Start-ups in Hong Kong

Simon Squibb incubates new businesses for Hong Kong, SCMP- C2-pg.14


"Success as a start-up requires more than a good idea and hard work" _ Simon Squibb


+ A success start-up is always more than a solo venture

+ Tapping into experience, expertise (and money!) of others is critical

+ HK now has a well defined entrepreneurial ecosystem, and Nest is part of that

+ They help with: raising capital, finding contacts, resolving legal issues, and scaling up


A key part of what they offer is their Mentor network, office space, assistance from fulltime staff,

and up to US$100,000 in seed capital. So far, they have assisted 200 young companies.

Nest has a "Team" of 15 people (which may, or may not include external members and backers.)

They claim a network of 45 mentors, and contacts with 600 high net worth investors.


Squibb started in HK by setting up a successful creative agency, focused on brand-building and

marketing communications.



They now provide three 12-week accelerator programs, in: healthcare and wearable tech, fintech,

and smart cities. The programs are cohort based, with eight companies per intake.

The culminate in a "demo day", where they field questions from over 100 industry experts


"It takes only 25 minutes online to apply" -

"You must have grit... You have to plan, prepare, and have confidence in your proposal


They have also established Investable, a crowd-funding platform that:

"Allows professional investors to browse through pre-vetted opportunities in a range of industries."


> http://www.cpjobs.com/hk/gamechangers

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Haha. Is InvestHK creating work ...for the police?


There's a photo in today's SCMP showing an Uber executive, being led out of his office in handcuffs


INTERVENTION, A slow drift towards economic ...


Chief executive's call for greater economic involvement in the economy raises questions about where Hong Kong should now be headed


"After the government's investment promotion arm, InvestHK, gave its stamp of approval to Uber, the city was taken by surprise when police suddenly raided the car-hailing's apps offices and arrested seven drivers in a crackdown...


The operation came amid pressure from the powerful taxi lobby..."


"The fracas prompted critics to ask whether the government was siding with business innovation or scaring away start-ups."


The CE has said that HK's traditional laisse faire style of economic management is "out of date"


Meanwhile, in Canada, the prices of taxi licenses have dropped by half since Uber entered the market

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HK moves into Fintech start-ups


10 FinTech Startups Selected for DBS Accelerator in HK


10 FinTech startups from around the world selected for DBS Accelerator
Hong Kong, 4 August 2015

FinTech solutions in big data analytics, payments, risk management, security, P2P lending and more are among the innovations from 10 startups from Hong Kong and around the world selected to participate in the inaugural DBS Accelerator programme in Hong Kong, which officially kicked off today.

DBS Accelerator is a collaborative initiative between DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited and Nest, the leading Hong Kong-based startup incubator and full-service ecosystem, and aims to create opportunities for innovators from across Asia and around the world to shape the future of banking and finance. The intensive accelerator programme is housed in “The Vault”, a newly renovated and state-of-the-art 5,000-square foot workspace in
the heart of Wan Chai, and the participating startups will have access to vast resources and mentor support.

The 10 startups taking part in this year’s DBS Accelerator are Tofu Pay, Currenxie, Apvera, Creditable, Dollar$mart, Monexo, Fund Innovation, Xfers, Closir and Super Fluid. They were selected from nearly 140 applicants from around the world and will be guided through their business growth and development with the help of business mentoring from DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited and Nest senior executives as well as other partners. Each participant will refine their business model under the accelerator.

. . .

DBS Bank (Hong Kong)’s Managing Director, Head of Technology & Operations, Hong Kong & Mainland China, David Lynch, said, “We are extremely pleased with the quality and diversity of the applications we received. Clearly, FinTech is attracting a new wave of talent and entrepreneurial thinking. Industry mega trends,such as cloud computing, mobility andwearable technology, the Internet of Things and data science,are unlocking the potential to create new business models and ecosystems. It's energising to see how many high potential startups are moving into the space. We’re committed to being an active participant in shaping the future of banking. The chosen startups for the programme all show strong potential to succeed in their respective domains, as well as to help us transform...

> more: http://www.dbs.com.hk/en/aboutus/newsroom/2015/DBS_Press_Release_FinTech_Finalists_Final_Eng.pdf

Is Hong Kong ready for fintech development ...

Apr 17, 2015 - These selected fintech startups represent a broad range of business models: micro-financing for small businesses (AMP), credit risk evaluation ...

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Spirit of Discovery - SCMP, pg. C5


They might seem like unlikely bedfellows, but in Hong Kong big business and start-ups are finding it productive to get together


+ A growing number of HK bluechip cos are offering space to start-ups "for free in packages called accelerators" - to give capital introductions and help them to improve their business plans

+ HK is now following multinationals fromNike to Royal Dutch in using the accelerator approach to in-house incubation of new businesses

+ DBS recently launched an accelerator for financial innovation, within a 5000 sf space in Wanchai, with some of its own staff assigned as mentors


: Tofupay - making online transactions: cheaper and easier

: SuperFluid - A Kenyan startup, fin'l mgmt apps, and mining consumer data

DBS gets no stake in the business, nor exclusive rights to use their developments

What DBS wants is new ideas on how technology can improve financial services

"Either that, or DBS will become irrelevant and replaceable," says David Lynch, head of DBS Tech.


CELL Phones as "disrupters":

NEW WAVE of innovation is coming from:

+ internet co's trying to break into mainland China banking

+ nimble, innovative, cloud and mobile-first start ups

(these new guys may eat-the-lunch of the old banks, and DBS wants to be a participant)


The stakes are high.

Research at Yale says: 75% of S&P500 co's will be replaced by new cos by 2027 (in 12 years)


AIA, the insurer : has an accelerator focused on "hi-tech health products"

Mission: to get its name out there, and encourage employees to be more creative


Simple Wearables, can detect when (elderly) wearers of a brooch-like device fall

This may also reduce claims on the insurance co


Difficulty: Find the first (paying) customers - first may be in the Philippines

AIA will launch its second 12-wk accelerator program in November : with possible 12 spaces


Simon Squibb's NEST has a new accelerator, in JV with Infiniti, luxury car-maker

"We are not looking for a return, just to drive innovation," says Dane Fisher of Infiniti


Blueprint, a Swire offshoot is another accelerator - using space, "Swire Property's biggest asset"

+ Two floors at Cornwall House are a "factory for tech start-ups"

+ One of the floors as subsidized working space, charging just HK$1000-2000 per person in rent

+ Other floor has the accelerator : Starting the Third intact of a 6-mos program

Blueprint has a two-year budget of HK$20mn., and may extend beyond Feb. 2017


Blue & Bird, a global tech-based law firm, offer free advice to participants


Will these accelerators work?

"How do the assert pressure, if they have no equity stake?,"

asks Fritz Demopoulos of Queens Rd. Capital, which invests in mainland start-ups

He also wonders, "Is there an urgent need?" (for more of these)

Young co's can get access to capital without the Accelerators.

"Everyone's a VC these days. Everyone is looking for something to invest in."

"There are more accelerators than grade-A cos to invest in."

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HK seems to be getting more serious about entrepreneurship, and interest is growing

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Ofiice Cost is a big factor - some interesting Prices here


Can co-working fill up Hong Kong’s offices?
08 March 2017 / By Henka Darsono / Office / Hong Kong
Credits: TijanaM / Shutterstock.com Blog_8Mar2017_shutterstock_281429825.jpg

Last year, US co-working space operator ‘WeWork’ made headlines in Hong Kong by leasing a combined 105,400 sq ft in Tower 535 (Causeway Bay) and MassMutual Tower (Wanchai). Shortly after, Shanghai-based ‘naked Hub’ announced plans to also set up in the city, leasing 55,000 sq ft in EIB Centre in Sheung Wan.

In a market where net demand growth has been thin—a net withdrawal of about 105,700 sq ft in the overall Grade A office market in 2016—the arrival of co-working space operators represents a welcome source of new demand for the leasing market.

Both WeWork and naked Hub have plans to expand their footprints while a number of other operators, including some of the city’s incumbent serviced office operators, are exploring options to also establish new locations in the city.

Co-working companies limited by their business model

The arrival of co-working space operators on the leasing market, however, will be restricted by their business model.

Operator revenue is derived primarily from the leasing of ‘seats’. For members, this usually translates into a monthly fee. At present these monthly fees can range from HK$2,000 – 12,000 (US$258 – $1,545) per seat, depending on location and type of membership. By taking into account monthly membership fees, office seating density levels, capital expense (capex), operating expense (opex) and business margins, one can quickly deduce the rental tolerance of operators.

Using a monthly membership fee of HK$6,000 (US$773) per seat at a density of 70 sq ft per seat, an operator can generate revenue of about HK$ 86 (US$11) per month on a square foot basis. Deducting monthly opex, estimated to be HKD18 (US$ 2) per sq ft to account for labour and utility costs, and a 20 per cent operating margin, leaves just over HK$50 (US$6) per sq ft for monthly rent.

Based on the above calculations and current asking rents, there are fewer than 110 Grade A office buildings, or about 37 per cent of all Grade A building stock, that could accommodate the rental level of co-working operators.

Most of these buildings are located outside of Central such as Wanchai/Causeway Bay (12 per cent of total stock), Tsimshatsui (20 per cent), Hong Kong East (20 per cent), and Kowloon East (19 per cent). So while co-working may prove to be a driver of demand growth, it is likely to be focused on only a particular segment of the market.

Will co-working firms rent Grade A office space in Hong Kong?

Still, that doesn’t mean that co-working operators won’t establish locations in Central. Though most Grade A offices may be beyond the reach of their current business models due to rental rates, Grade B and C offices are very much in play. Indeed, naked Hub’s lease at EIB Centre—a Grade B office building with relatively smaller floor plates—is testament to this. Moreover, some operators are now reviewing business models to assess whether there is sufficient demand to open locations in premium Grade A office buildings at premium membership rates.


> http://www.jllapsites.com/research/can-co-working-fill-up-hong-kongs-offices/

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