Good morning. RISE 2018 is over, after three days of intense networking, brilliant insights and good times that spread out from the Convention Centre and into the restaurants, bars and tourist attractions of Hong Kong. At final count, RISE welcomed 15,774 attendees from 120 countries and markets, including 760 start-ups and 450 journalists. Artificial intelligence (AI) was a key theme this year, as was China’s growing role in global technology.
We’ve already heard from the leaders of Grab, Sogou, LINE, Didi, Amazon, Microsoft and many more, including RISE-favourite Sophia from Hanson Robotics. What was happening on Day Three? Important questions were being answered.
Where are you investing this year?
- Dan Brody, investment managing director, Tencent: With a focus on making people’s digital and real lives better through the internet and informatization, Tencent invests where it can add value, either in large companies or small start-ups. For example, we may invest in a small European game developer to help it customize its mobile game to launch in China on Tencent’s platform. We have internal expertise in digital content, social, fintech, cloud and advertising, so these are all good areas to come to us with ideas for.
- Winston Cheng, international business president, JD.com: JD is investing in technology for e-commerce, internet finance and logistics: AI, blockchain, cloud, devices/IoT. The prevalence of mobile payment in China offers local entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to develop new business models. We’re also interested in data: using online data to enhance offline retail, for example, and using blockchain to track fresh foods.
- Helen Wong, partner, Qiming Venture Partners: China is now at the leading edge of innovation and we are seeing entrepreneurs taking business models proven in China to overseas markets. There is also potential in the monetization of the mobile internet, especially for the generation born after 2000. Online-offline retail is also exciting.
- Jixun Foo, managing partner, GGV Capital: The innovation cycle is changing in China and entrepreneurs are serving more sophisticated consumers. There is lots of competition and no lack of capital, so technology is important. We’re investing in areas that are more edge; that have more barriers to entry, like AI, data science and intelligent machines.
What have you learnt about being a leader?
- Rupert Hogg, CEO, Cathay Pacific Airways: Because safety and reliability are paramount concerns, the airline industry values experience and competence, consistency and uniformity—especially in times of change. For an airline leader, it is important to set the direction of travel for the organization (but not necessarily the destination). This is about communication and clarity of vision.
- Spencer Fung, Group CEO, Li & Fung: There are ‘good-time managers’ and ‘crisis-time leaders’. A crisis shows you who can stay calm, analyse the situation and take a step-by-step approach to overcoming it. As the world is changing so rapidly, we need to be true crisis-time leaders.
- Johnny Chou, founder, chairman and CEO, BEST Inc: You have to be able to look far ahead and to stay true to yourself. The time to stay the course is when people doubt your vision and times get tough. Trusting yourself and your team is important.
How easy is it for companies from China to expand to the US, and vice versa?
- Matthew Prince, CEO, Cloudflare: China is a unique market, but (as a US company) working with great partners and being respectful to local laws and culture has allowed us to thrive. The value of Cloudflare is in its global network, so that allows us to approach partners in China and elsewhere with openness. Maturing IP systems worldwide are very encouraging for everyone. Plus, it is in everyone’s interest to have more Chinese companies serving an international audience.
- John Zhao, chairman and CEO, Hony Capital: Just like US companies coming to China 30 years ago, many Chinese companies today want to find a US partner or acquire a US company to help them go international. Issues, like IP protection, can always be resolved by working towards a mutually respected rule-based system; a trade war is not constructive. By continuing to come together, as here at RISE, and taking a holistic, global view to combining our strengths to create value, is how real progress will be made.
Which start-up won this year’s PITCH competition?
PITCH is the start-up competition at RISE. This year, 70 start-ups from around the world were selected to battle live on stage in the initial rounds of the competition. Ten winners joined ten pre-selected start-ups in the semi-finals, from which three winners emerged.
- Hong Kong-based Revsmart Wearable is an IoT and wearable technology start-up that is seeking to make motorbike riding and cycling safer and more enjoyable by developing helmets that provide access to communication, navigation and music.
- Australia’s Weploy is a digital platform that lets companies quickly access pre-vetted temporary staff, matched with them for skills and capability. Firms improve their agility and job seekers enjoy life flexibility, with suitable jobs pushed direct to their phone.
- Vietnam’s Logivan is a web platform that solves the problem of a fragmented trucking industry by connecting shippers to truckers with spare capacity. It aims to make trucking more efficient, reduce road congestion, and make Vietnam more business-friendly.
And the PITCH crown goes to…Logivan!
Founder and CEO Lin Pahm, a former Goldman Sachs technology analyst and Cambridge University graduate, said: “We’ve already found investment at RISE. PITCH has given us a lot of international exposure to large companies and media and we will use it as a springboard to form strategic partnerships with companies around Asia.”
Once again, RISE has put the tech entrepreneurship and innovation in the spotlight in Hong Kong. Start-ups, big companies, media and investors have met and mingled. Ideas have been shared. Friendships and partnerships have been forged. And we can’t wait to do it all again next year. See you in Hong Kong from July 8-11, 2019 for RISE 2019.