20 Mar 2019
Hong Kong is known more for big, established companies that pay well than for entrepreneurship. However, a lot of that has changed in the recent past. For instance, small- and medium-sized enterprises now comprise more than 98 percent of all businesses in Hong Kong. In fact, they provide approximately half of all private sector jobs and employ close to 1.3 million people.
A major spurt in this growth of entrepreneurship has come from the government’s encouragement to the technology sector. In fact, the number of technology startups in Hong Kong went up by almost 24% between 2015 to 2016.
A budding startup scene is now emerging in Hong Kong. Here are some reasons why this is probably the best time in decades for starting a business in Hong Kong.
With breakout unicorns like BitMEX, GoGoVan, and Klook to younger, upcoming startups like Welab, Accompany, and Pymetrics, the startup ecosystem is thriving. Hong Kong is now seeing optimistic changes like the rise in incubators and an increase in government support. For instance, 3 years ago Hong Kong had only three incubators to support new business innovation. Today, there are 32 incubators that have helped spawn over 1600 startups.
Hong Kong is known as a regional hub for headquarters for many global companies. These companies provide young startups with a big market as well as a potential source of funding. Moreover, Hong Kong is also home to a number of High Networth Individuals(HNIs). Many HNIs choose to become early-stage investors in startups.
China’s stature is growing as a tech hub in its own right, and Hong Kong will be at the forefront of this change. This will be further helped by initiatives like Beijing’s “Greater Bay Area” project which aims at turning Hong Kong and some other regions into an important technological hub.
While entrepreneurship is a tough nut to crack, there are some traits and skills shared by all successful entrepreneurs.
This is probably the most important personality trait that every entrepreneur shares. There are many uncertainties and pitfalls that you will face as an entrepreneur. From bugs in the product and lack of funds to failure of the business model. The successful entrepreneurs are the ones who don’t give up on their dream even as a multitude of challenges are thrown their way.
This is another hallmark of a successful entrepreneur. Those who stick to the straight and narrow are unlikely to be effective entrepreneurs. People who find unconventional solutions to problems and try different tricks to find their way are more likely to succeed.
Most technology startups are built on a grand vision of transformation. It is this vision that people get excited by; whether it’s prospective employees, clients, or investors. As an entrepreneur, you need to be able to communicate the grand vision of your company in a way that’s exciting and compelling.
You don’t need to have expert technical skills to be a tech entrepreneur. The answer to the question “Can a non-IT person become a tech entrepreneur” is a resounding yes.
Famous entrepreneurs like Jack Ma didn’t write the computer programs themselves. You can always hire programmers or find a tech co-founder. However, to be a tech entrepreneur, it’s best to have a basic knowledge of computer programming. Investing in technical skills will help you understand the ins and outs of how your product works. It will also ensure the coders in your team can’t take you for a ride, especially in the initial days. You will also be hiring for a number of tech roles and tech-savvy will help there also.
So while you don’t really need tech skills to be an entrepreneur, it doesn’t hurt to know the basics. You can even do a beginner’s course such as Xccelerate’s six-week program, Coding for Beginners.
You don’t need to have a specific degree to become a successful entrepreneur. However, subject matter expertise gives you a huge advantage over other newbie entrepreneurs.
For instance, having a finance background can really help you when you want to begin your own fintech startup. This background could be in the form of a degree or work experience. Of course, you can also make up for a lack of subject matter knowledge by signing up for part-time courses that can cover the gap. Xccelerate’s fintech courses are a great example.
A great way to start your journey as an entrepreneur is to find courses that will equip you with the technical skills that you need. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to have an in-depth knowledge of too many things but knowing the basics of programming, accounting, marketing, and analytics will go a long way.
Another advantage of doing a course is that you meet like-minded students as well as potential mentors in the form of experienced faculty. This can help you kickstart your entrepreneurial journey.
Good examples of effective offline courses for tech entrepreneurs are Xccelerate’s part-time courses on the basics of coding, UX design, and data science. You can also choose to do a course in the particular domain that you’re starting up in. Xccelerate’s fintech courses are a good example. While there are many courses to enrol for tech entrepreneurs, you should choose the ones that meet your needs.
To be honest, many of the students who join our immersive full-stack software engineering bootcamp in Hong Kong do so with the intention of either building a business upon graduation or adding more value to their co-founding team.
A big part of successful entrepreneurship is “who you know”. This helps you hire the right core team, find the best possible investors, and have long-lasting relationships with mentors.
Having the right mentor can increase your chances of success, especially in tech entrepreneurship. Ideally, your mentor should either be a successful tech entrepreneur themselves or have been part of the ecosystem in a big way. Similarly, getting access to the right early-stage investment can make or break a startup.
For a new entrepreneur, getting access to effective mentorship or funding is not always simple. One way of going about it is by attending and pitching at tech conferences. Events in Hong Kong like the Rise Conference or Xccelerate: Entrepreneurs Moving Forward are a great place to meet potential mentors, employees and investors.
Incubators and accelerators are another way to access a great network. Hong Kong has incubators like Blueprint, Cyberport, and Seedcamp that have helped their startups get access to investment and also provided great mentorship.
How to become an entrepreneur with no money is a question many people grapple with. Today, you have many examples of wildly successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Ma who built great tech empires without any personal wealth.
There are many ways you can approach this problem. The first is by targeting incubators and accelerators like Seedcamp and Blueprint. If they like your idea they will give you certain benefits like free working space, a small amount of seed money, and even access to investors. This can help your venture take off even if you don’t have any personal wealth.
The Government of Hong Kong also has a number of programs to fund tech entrepreneurs with a good team and a breakthrough idea. This includes funds like Innovation and Technology Fund for Better Living and the DesignSmart Initiative.
It’s not easy to become an entrepreneur in Hong Kong but it’s even harder for women. Luckily, there are many Hong Kong-based female entrepreneurs who have made it big in the male-dominated startup industry. These include fashion designer Johanna Ho, and Jennifer Liu Wai-fun, founder of Sir Hudson International.
Of late, there has also been an increase in the women’s entrepreneur network in Hong Kong. The Female Entrepreneurs Worldwide (FEW) is a non-profit organization in Hong Kong that aims to provide a forum for women entrepreneurs to network and mentor each other.
With the issues in Hong Kong’s employment scenario in the past few years, the growth in the tech industry has come as a breath of fresh air. According to a study titled Transforming Hong Kong Through Entrepreneurship, Hong Kong’s ambition to become a leading tech hub depends on how entrepreneurship develops.
The Government and the private players are both aware of this reality and are doing their best to encourage entrepreneurship. No wonder it’s one of the best times to become an entrepreneur in Hong Kong.
20 Mar 2019