StartmeupHK Festival 2019 - Day 4 Highlights Part 1

ASA Innovation Wins JUMPSTARTER as Alibaba’s Joe Tsai Gives 3 Tips to Entrepreneurs

Innovation needs to be bottom-up, says Tsai; HK policies, funding for startups; DJ-ing, dance creativity

Innovation has to be bottom-up – companies don’t innovate, it’s the people that innovate. That was the key message from Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group, and Director of Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, in his opening remarks on day 2 of JUMPSTARTER 2019. He encouraged entrepreneurs to use their innovative thinking to solve problems for society.

Mr. Tsai said that international representation at this year’s JUMPSTARTER was strong, with 50% of the companies based in Hong Kong, and the other 50% representing 35 countries around the world. He added that women’s participation has also increased since year one, up from 17% to 22%.

“I am very encouraged that Hong Kong corporates are getting involved and bringing in their resources,” he said. Commenting further on how people – not companies – innovate, he added: “It’s the young people that are close to the market, close to the customers that will figure out great ideas and innovate.”

Mr. Tsai’s closing message focused on three key considerations for entrepreneurs: “For entrepreneurialism, most startup companies start with a technology or an idea, but that technology needs to look for a problem to solve. Having a mission is important. Live for your mission and you can pursue a vision of what that company will look like and always be guided by your values. Mission, vision, values – these are the three most important things to think about as you start your business.”

JUMPSTARTER forms a key part of the StartmeupHK Festival 2019, organised by Invest Hong Kong. Several thousand attendees filled the packed auditorium.

ASA Innovation, a Hong Kong-based maker of the air-purifier lamp Airluna, was selected as the ‘Most Favorite’ and ‘Best Startup’ of this year’s JUMPSTARTER. Described as the ‘lamp that breathes,’ Airluna uses nanotechnology to eliminate pollutants at a microscopic scale.

“We are so excited and honoured to be part of this. Our mission is to help people solve problems and offer the best-quality air in a bespoke way,” said ASA Innovation CEO Mui Kinoshita. For more details, see here.

HK government initiatives highlighted

Guest of honour Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, GBM, GBS, JP, Chief Secretary for Administration, Hong Kong SAR, followed Mr. Tsai on the main stage. He highlighted a long list of government-backed initiatives geared towards making Hong Kong a premier hub for innovation and technology (INT) and creating a vibrant startup ecosystem.

“In the past three years, the Hong Kong government has committed HK$100 billion to boost research and development capabilities, develop leading INT infrastructure, nurture INT talent, provide investment funding and improve the ecosystem for startups,” said Mr. Cheung.

Hong Kong’s two flagship institutions, Hong Kong Science Park and Cyberport, have both created incredible growth for INT startups by connecting all elements of the value chain, from innovative thinking, research and design, to design and production, he said.

The Hong Kong government has also allocated HK$2 billion for an INT venture fund to attract private investors to co-invest with the Hong Kong government for a matching ratio of 2 to 1. In the seven months since the launch, they have already forged partnerships with six venture capital funds.

Hong Kong’s oldest companies embracing tech, AutoX comes home

On a Corporate Innovation Panel that followed, led by Bernard Chan, GBS, JP, Convenor of the Executive Council, Hong Kong SAR and Non-executive Director of Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, the panellists explored how a number of Hong Kong’s oldest and most well-established companies are embracing technology and innovation within their operations. Panellists were: Ellis Cheng, CFO, Kerry Logistics; Kenny Koo, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Limited; Diana Cesar, CEO, HSBC Hong Kong; and Raymond Tong, CEO, SUNeVision.

In the afternoon, Jianxiong Xiao, better known as Professor X, Founder & CEO, AutoX Inc., took the stage to talk about how his company evolved. AutoX is the world’s first autonomous temperature-controlled food delivery service. It is based in San Jose, California, and is the grocery run of the future, he said.

Professor X, a former robotics lecturer at Princeton University, said AutoX is “coming home.” The Shenzhen-based company will open an R&D operation in Hong Kong.

Creativity and entrepreneurship with some DJ-ing thrown in

Speaking later in the afternoon, after DJ-ing a stage show, Mick Batyske, DJ and Style Influencer, told the audience that entrepreneurship is like a DJ mixing music, bringing different disciplines together. He duly demonstrated. “Creativity is just connecting things,” he said, borrowing a quote from Steve Jobs.

He also quoted Business News Daily: “Creativity is a bigger predictor of success in life than intelligence.” This runs core to being a successful entrepreneur. This, he said, is because people don’t buy goods and series; they buy stories and magic. To drive the point home, he cited the examples of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Walt Disney, who all created “the magic, the brand, the story, the pull on your heartstrings.”

He said that a creative entrepreneur adheres to rules and principles only when they add value. “We hack,” he said. “We don’t take no for an answer.” He said it’s better to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission, because people tend to say no. Better to just do it.

Batyske stressed the importance of personal brand. “A strong personal brand can help your company establish credibility.” It’s important for your employees and customers, he said. A useful guide is to have your personal brand represent where you want to take your career. This approach transformed his own company and brand.