RISE Week: Entrepreneurs and Startups Gained Much-Needed Publicity
Last week, Hong Kong played host to RISE, Web Summit’s first event in Asia. The event took place in the DBS Vault, a newly renovated and state-of-the-art 5,000-square foot workspace created by DBS Bank to provide DBS Accelerator startup participants with work and office space, vast resources and mentor support.
The startup community was abuzz with excitement, and organized various events leading up to the conference (see #RiseWeek).
Ninety Seconds to Get Noticed
One such event at RISE was the #WomenInTech evening that focused on female entrepreneurs – starting off with a showcase where nine women-led startups had a succinct 90 seconds to present their company. This was a great opportunity for the founders of startups at various stages of development to get some exposure.
The nine startups included:
- Next Chapter – A rewards-based crowdfunding platform for female entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses.
- Techpacker – A seamless solution for creating, sharing, and updating fashion design requirements.
- Pstakecare – Helps people find the right doctor and hospital combination for any medical treatment based on quality and price parameters.
- Jobdoh – A location-based mobile platform for quality casual workers.
- Light Stage – A women-run arts & events company — founded on “soul and space.”
- Sam the Local – a P2P platform that connects people to locals for customized, interest- based outings.
- Yeechoo – Hong Kong/Greater China’s first premier online designer dress rental destination.
- Time Auction – A do-gooder platform that connects you with the most inspiring people in Hong Kong, all the while encouraging volunteerism.
- Hirely – A creative online solution for you to search and hire local events professionals for your upcoming party — at a price that’s right for you.
Panelists with Startups to Promote
The showcase was followed by a panel of three women who run successful startups based in Hong Kong. The three panelists included:
Catherine Tan started Notey with her husband in 2013 while still working at Morgan Stanley. One day she was looking for travel blogs, and realized quite simply how hard it was to Google the concept of blogs. That was the inspiration for Notey, a discovery platform where one can find the Best Blogs on over 500,000 topics.
Some of her tips:
- The easiest way to start a new business is to “sketch” it out, as this is the most streamlined way to show it to investors, etc.
- She fosters a unique culture amongst her people by updating employees through daily meetings, having weekly lunches, and giving her staff the work/life balance to pursue their passions outside of the office.
- When asked if there are obstacles to being a woman in the tech and startup worlds, she said that she hasn’t experienced any biases.
- Her advice to those creating their own ventures was: “Start small, think big, and think scalable.”
Michelle Sun started First Code Academy in 2013 while still working at Buffer, a company that gave her the ability to work remotely and fly back and forth between Hong Kong and San Francisco. Prior to Buffer, Michelle worked at Goldman Sachs. The experience that changed her life was a 12-week, women-only coding camp at Hackbright Academy in the United States – an experience that gave rise to First Code, an institute that teaches young children to code and create their own mobile applications.
The reason Michelle chose Hong Kong for her institute is because she is from here, and so she understands the market and the psyche of the people — key elements in establishing a successful business. On the flipside, she feels that the startup mindset in Hong Kong, unlike Silicon Valley, is “nascent but growing.” Her advice to those creating their own ventures was, “Start something you’re passionate about; start small, then see where it takes you.”
Emmanuelle Norchet (Emma) joined Investable in 2014. Emma previously worked with a Chinese law firm on foreign investment transactions involving entrepreneurs and investors from all over Asia.
Having studied in Hong Kong, Emma believes in its ability to be a global startup hub, and so she joined Investable, a platform that allows professional investors to co-invest in best-in-class technology startups. According to Emma, Hong Kong is a great place to begin a startup because of its low tax rate and proximity to China. She also shared that she feels it’s an ideal test market because of its combined large number of global expats and locals.
To her, fostering a culture in a company means knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Her advice to those creating their own ventures was, “Start something you’re passionate about; make sure that your venture is solving a problem that exists; and that there is demand for your product or service.”17