A serial entrepreneur and founder of Gift Something. Justin successfully established Gift Hampers Hong Kong and Gift Flowers Hong Kong with his innovative business ideas. He spends a lot of time overseas where he gets most of his creative inspirations and has a number of business interests in fashion, F&B and property projects in Hong Kong and Australia.
The innovative e-commerce platform
I recently attended the Echelon Tech Conference 2014 held in Singapore. It is the largest gathering of investors, venture capitalists, private equity funds, incubators and creative entrepreneurs from all over Asia who are passionate about creating and discovering the next generation of disruptive businesses that will change the status quo of business models. The event attracted big guns including representatives from Google, Twitter and AirBnB. Eduardo Saverin, one of the original five co-founders of Facebook, was spotted scouting around the show.
A number of Hong Kong startups showcased their ideas including iDecorate- the world’s first-mood board e-commerce platform for weddings and home decorations, Shopline- an easy to use e-commerce platform for SME's tailored for the Asian market, Craftyful- which promises to be the cheapest site for craft goods, Butlur- an online gift concierge service, and Ambi Climate- a remote fuzzy logic device which controls the temperature of your home, who was also the winner of Echelon 2014 People’s Choice Award.
Hong Kong contains an eclectic mix of cultures and educated, talented entrepreneurs with scalable business ideas with the potential to be the next Facebook or Alibaba. However, many of these startup business owners feel helpless with the lack of government support, funding opportunities and lack of skilled employees in the market.
If Hong Kong wants to level the playing field with other innovative tech hubs, it needs to provide a supportive ecosystem that supports and fosters the development of creative entrepreneurs.The Singapore government has pumped approximately S$100 million (HK$621 million) into early stage startups and it has created the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) to encourage government bodies and companies to adopt new emerging technologies, SPRING which is a collection of programs which support first time entrepreneurs with mentors, networks and funding, SEEDS an equity based co-financing option, MDA i.Jam which provides fund matching up to S $100,000 (HK$621,000) by founders or incubators and the National Research Fund Technology Incubation Scheme which co-invests up to 85% of the investment of up to S $500,000 (HK$3.1 million) by a recommended incubator. In comparison, Hong Kong’s government incubation programs only concentrate on restricted technology clusters and merely act as an introduction agency for potential angel investors.
The Hong Kong government has not kept pace with the technology innovation and the tech entrepreneurship movement. Without sufficient momentum and money recycled from successful exits, Hong Kong will have great difficulty raising the next generation of entrepreneur startups and will see more of its talent move to places like Silicon Valley and even Singapore. Now that the Hong Kong startup environment is heating up, the Hong Kong government needs to ramp up its support efforts with acceleration programs to spur innovation and entrepreneurship. Without this, Hong Kong will be stuck in the slow lane, despite being the freest economy in the world to do business. As Hong Kong’s income from trading and shipping diminishes, it needs to consider viable alternatives, one of which is to invest into Hong Kong's new generation of tech entrepreneurs to maintain and secure Hong Kong’s future financial position.