Story 1 Before chasing dream, surviving first

Tong Yilin

2015/5/8

It was a cloudy afternoon, Chris Yeung and his partners were uploading the portfolios of the barbers and registering the booking information on their websites — -Hong Kong HairSalon.com. There were three people in the office, working in a 799 square-feet room in an industrial building in Kwan Tong district.

Chris Yeung and his partner are working on their website. (Photo by: Tong Yilin)

“We want to make profit as soon as possible,” said Yeung. “But the pressure is really heavy.” Wearing a blue jacket, Yeung closed his computer. “Being an Internet startup in Hong Kong is not as easy as what we thought before,” he added.

Chris Yeung, 29 years old, is the founder of the Hairsalon.Com. He once was an HR of a company but he felt boring and want to make something new thus he left his company and became an Internet startup.

The business idea of Yeung is like the Openrice. He wanted to gather as many information as he could, and design a ranking list. That could give the customers more specific and overall information and could help them to choose barbers that are most suitable for them.

So he tried to find barbers and hair salons and asked them to cooperate with him. Nowadays he has totally gathered over 300 barbers and his websites started operating online in March. They earned 10000 Hong Kong dollars first month. “It didn’t cover our cost and we still need to approach more customers,” said Yeung.

“Most people think that Internet startups have no cost but they are wrong.” Yeung added. Although Yeung’s office has 799 square feet and it is in the industrial building built in 1990s, it costs HK$ 11,850 per month. In fact, the average rent price of such office is HK$16 per square feet, according to the Hong Kong Offices website.

What’s more, the local market is also “tricky” to the Internet startups. “Local people are not that interested in the new formula of an industry, they would take long time to accept the websites or apps — -they want to test if it is really helpful and useful. However, we cannot wait them for that long time, we need to make profit as soon as possible to run our company,” said Vinci Tsang, a partner of Yeung, is in charge of the marketing.

Internet startups increase most in the recent age, 120 companies would join in the Cyber Port program in the following 3 years. However, most of them didn’t get “practical” help or benefit from the government. “It seems that the government is promoting the Internet startups, but there is no actual benefit or useful policy for us,” Yeung said.

In fact, the government used to organize the Innovation and Technology Bureau to get more attention and support from the public, which was objected by the Legislative Council.

In order to promote their product in the market, Vinci Tsang suggested that they should join some entrepreneur organizations to enlarge their promotion. Therefore, they joined an organization called Youth Entrepreneur Warriors.

Three partners host the logo of the company and introduce its product. (Credit: hkyew.org)

“As we are an Internet startup, we need to use new formulas to advertise our brand,” said Tsang. Joining this organization could help them to enlarge their market. As YEW is a NGO organization, it could help to deliver a positive brand impression of Hairsalon.com not only to the customers but also could attract some big companies’ investment. For the further development, they would need venture capitals from outside.

“For the moment, we should obtain more business and earn more money to keep running our company,” said Yeung. “We need survive first, and then we could chase our dream.”

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