Startup Impact Summit 2020: From Hong Kong to the World
We were honoured to hear from Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, who believes that the ecosystem in Hong Kong makes it perfect for startups.
‘It is an ideal testing ground and launchpad for startups, especially for mid stage to mature startups. The city offers everything a startup needs: funding, market, infrastructure and talent. It offers a very friendly and simple tax regime along with a very supportive government.’
Karena Belin, Co-founder, WHub & AngelHub, was just as passionate this morning as she kicked off day 2 of the Startup Impact Summit with Charles Ng, Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion, Invest Hong Kong. Ng summarised the beauty of the StartmeupHK Festival. ‘This festival is offering a platform for entrepreneurs, investors and big corporates to collaborate and engage. The experience has been phenomenal, and we are thrilled with how it’s gone so far.’
Most Successful Angel – A talk with Jason Calacanis
Jason Calacanis, Angel Investor and Podcaster, Launch, enjoyed a ginger beer in California, while he chatted with WHub’s Karena Belin. With seven unicorns in his back pocket, Calacanis’ involvement ranges from Uber and Thumbtack to the meditation app Calm. He said conferences like this are so important for startups because ‘one meeting can change the course of an entrepreneur’s life’. It’s all about finding the right company, with the right founders, in the right market at the right price.
Idea Sharing Platform for Online Communities
Kenneth Kwok, CEO, Global Citizen Capital interviewed the inspiring and influential Lluvy Liu, who is a Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum. She introduced Uplink, which is a platform created to share ideas between engaged online communities. She wants to channel the energy from the younger generations and unite passionate changemakers.
Fintech Scaling Stories
Maaike Steinbach, from our main stage sponsor, VISA, discussed the journey of digital insurance company ZhongAn with its President, Wayne Xu. ZhongAn launched in 2013 and was the first purely online insurance company in mainland China. In 2017, it registered its subsidiary as an international company in Hong Kong. Officially launched in March 2020, ZA Bank is one of Hong Kong’s eight virtual banks. Xu explained their goals were to ‘make finance easier to use and more accessible for customers’, but the most important aspect is the user.
Impossible: Meat for Meat Lovers
Sonalie Figueiras, Founder and CEO, Green Queen Media / Ekowarehouse talked with Nick Halla, Senior Vice President, International, Impossible Foods on the journey of plant-based meat and the future of vegetarian and vegan food alternatives. In recent years the environmental impact of meat production has been exposed to the mainstream. Currently 45% of the world’s arable land is being used for animal agriculture with cattle and beef production being the highest factor. Impossible foods take the flavours we love and make it healthier and more sustainable by reproducing it with plant-based materials. ‘Food is diversity and food is experience’, said Halla.
Back to Business: Opportunities for Digital Commerce in Asia’s Path towards Recovery
This panel discussed the biggest trend since the start of Covid-19 pandemic – the shift to a more digital world. Not only are people meeting online through platforms such as Zoom and Google but many businesses, large and small, are having to shift to ecommerce and online platforms. Eric Ng, CEO and Co-founder, Boutir, explained how they set out to make this as ‘frictionless’ as possible for clients by streamlining platforms and creating a simple, circular and easy digital system. David Rosa, CEO and Co-founder, Neat, believes the struggles of Covid-19 have simply pushed us forward. ‘What we are seeing is an acceleration of trends which were already underway. People have been forced to look for digital solutions. It seems that the companies excelling right now are the ones leaning into their talent pools and putting their energy into developing a pipeline of future generations of skilled workers.’
Tech4Good: Showcase Startup Impact, Transform through Tech
Rodney J. Schaddee Van Dooren, Director, Illicit Trade Prevention Asia Pacific, PMI spoke about how they use technology to make a positive impact by discussing their ‘purpose, influence and the changing environment’. Tat Lam, CEO, Shanzhai City, is working to address community issues using impact technology. He believes ‘the next generation of poverty is not created by monetary imbalance but information barriers’, and if we can reduce the data gap, then we can provide communities with solutions. Mark Blick, CEO, Diginex Solutions, said ‘Tech4Good’ provides systems that protect migrant workers by moving paper-based processes to a more secure digital environment.
Unicorn Talk: India’s Insurtech Disruption
Shanti Mohan, Co-founder and CEO, LetsVenture, interviewed Sarbvir Singh, CEO, PolicyBazaar.com, on his experience in growing the company to become the largest online insurance provider with 90% market share in India and a unicorn company. Singh stays humble and believes that the unicorn tag should not be one’s goal. ‘If you are doing the right thing for your customer and your community, the unicorn will come’. With a rich background in companies such as Citi and JP Morgan, he was able to offer tailored advice to founder and friend, Yashish Dahiya, to give PolicyBazaar.com a more focused mission which ‘goes beyond sales and creates a holistic experience for the consumer’ as well as a clear business model and strong revenue streams.
Final Pitch of Hack.Asia
The final pitches of Hack.Asia’s 36-hour ‘hackathon’ were a delightful array of ingenuity, dedicated team-work and innovative solutions. All ten teams listened attentively to their problem briefs and worked tirelessly to solve them in efficient and imaginative ways. From F&B to travel, property management and retail, the teams put their knowledge to the test. Both the startups and student groups showed professionalism with their well-rehearsed and creative pitches.
The Grand Prize was awarded to ‘FoodieXpress’ which the judges thought had a clear solution and strong presentation for the Jardine Restaurant Group and Microsoft challenge; which was to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to better understand customers’ needs in the F&B industry. Their AI technology combined with business intelligence platform functioned as an optimisation tool for Pizza Hut restaurants. Their data analysis proved that delivery systems were inefficient and expensive, and they could streamline this with their AIBI platform.
FintechHK, InvestHK: Fast-tracking Your Next Success
King Leung, Head of Fintech InvestHK, led with a major highlight overview of what Hong Kong fintech has done for the world. Running through the entire Hong Kong fintech ecosystem, he said ‘out of the top 100 banks in the world, Hong Kong has 78 of them represented’, making it a prime base for fintech growth.
Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute: How ASTRI Technologies Enable a Smart City
People, devices, knowledge and data are all going to be more interconnected than they have ever been. Rex Wong, Executive Director and CEO of Kumshing, talked about the ways in which Kumshing works together with project owners and stakeholders to help bring startups together, and come up with solutions. Hugh Chow, CEO of ASTRI, later discussed the various tools and platforms by which smart city technologies can seamlessly communicate with one another, leading to increased functionality in AI-assisted technologies.
Devere Bryan, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Xero, broke down the process of how cloud accounting platforms develop. He said that Xero is constantly investing in its ecosystem, a vision that will see it evolve into a full platform business. Their streamlining services take the busy work out of admin so that business can experience real growth.
Josie Ng, the Design Lead at PayMe from HSBC, had a one-on-one with Felix Wong, Head of Growth, WHub and AngelHub, – Hong Kong’s first SFC licensed startup investment platform for professional investors – on designing the banking interfaces of the future. Developers and designers may have more in common than typically believed. They can learn from one another, and there is increasing tech collaboration as user interfaces and experiences converge.