Is Hong Kong’s Startup Ecosystem a Sinking Ship?

It’s not a ship.

No. It’s not sinking. It’s also not a ship. The startup ecosystem in Hong Kong is a bunch of life boats floating on Victoria Harbour unsure where to head to. Simply put, Hong Kong doesn’t have a sustainable startup ecosystem yet.

Hong Kong’s startups are on lifeboats, instead of a single giant ship.

A community is NOT about networking

In Hong Kong, the startup community is small, so small that you get to know everybody in a few months. A small community is not the problem. The problem is that the community doesn’t focus on building or creating. Seen from most events, topics are always about fund raising, idea generation, marketing or pure mingling. Don’t get me wrong. These events are great, but they are not essential to a healthy startup ecosystem.

A startup ecosystem is essentially a community of creators who build products and services that people love. Everything else is noise. If your products generate sales and profits, you will get the funding you want. If you can build things yourself, you can speed up idea validations and save money from hiring.

If you can, stop pitching without a product. Forget fundraising before your first sale. Focus on building your business. Great businesses provide great value through great products and services.

You need to create. You have to be able to build the initial version of products and services. Ideas are worthless; if they were worth something, there would be a market for them. But, there are no monetary exchanges for trading ideas.

There’s no excuse for you not to build an initial product. The first version is probably crappy, but that’s fine. And, there’s no excuse for you not to improve your initial crappy product to be a great product.

❤️ Hong Kong, let’s build things people love.

Fund raising is NOT a measure of success

Fundraise helps you solve your cashflow problems. Funding itself is not revenue nor profit. Funding is almost a liability. When you receive funding, you have the responsibilities to create a profitable business for your investors. A company valued at 1 billion dollars does NOT imply that it has a good profitable business.

A great business doesn’t necessarily require funding to succeed. Similarly, a growing team doesn’t imply your business is growing profitably. Funding is important when you have discovered a great business model and want to speed up the growth. But, if your business will die without funding, you might want to rethink about your business model.

↗️ Hong Kong, let’s measure success by profitable growth.

Hong Kong is NOT your target market

Your market is the world, not Hong Kong. If you are only focusing on the Hong Kong market, you are selling yourself short. Thinking big starts with a big market. You want to provide value to 7 billion people, not 7 million people.

A startup in New York will at least focus on the entire USA. Likewise, businesses like Airbnb will work in every city in every country. Kickstarting your business in a local region is a good way to start, but your business strategy shouldn’t be localized.

Thinking global starts with learning global. Start looking for pain points and problems that most people in the world share.

🤔 Hong Kong, let’s think outside of Hong Kong.


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Thanks to Xiao Yang and Crystal Chen for reviewing.

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