Lifestyle Tech Conference: Living Life with Style
An exceptionally warm welcome from Bernard Chan, Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, started off the Lifestyle Tech Conference. Describing Hong Kong as a perfect stage for startups and an ideal testing ground for startups to expand and scale up, Chan reminded all participants that the pandemic will pass and stressed that ‘Hong Kong will be welcoming to you all. We are very much open for business.’
Relena Sei, CEO of Jumpstart Media, and Doris Fong, Head of Creative Industries at Invest Hong Kong, highlighted the key sessions for the day with enthusiasm. Looking into the startup ecosystem, and how technology is meaningfully involved in our lives today, Jumpstart announced three initiatives: teaming up with ecosystem builder startups, launching Jumpstart Academy, and launching an e-commence platform by startups for startups. Ending with a note of thanks to all the organisers and participants, Sei said. ‘Be prepared to be excited, challenged and inspired.’ Fong’s opening keynote expressed excitement about the new digital format for reaching a wider audience. Further noting that InvestHK provides support to startups based on their needs, Fong said they have specialists for various industries and emphasised that ‘no matter what kind of business you are starting, InvestHK will be able to assist.’
Christine Ntim, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Startup Ecosystem, said she was excited to see all the disruptive entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. She wished startups all the best and encouraged them to never stop working and fighting for what they believe in.
Andrew Tang, Partner, Draper Associates, reminded startups to focus on the big picture: ‘If you take a horizontal thing like the internet, you can predict which industry will be next to transform.’ Mareme Dieng, Head of Partnerships and International Relations at Draper University, concurred. ‘We want our entrepreneurs to have a global scope, when it comes to their impact’, she added.
Spencer Deng, CEO and Co-founder at Dorabot said artificial intelligence (AI), ‘unlike a human being, who has all of the senses set within itself, works like a hive mind getting information from a multiplicity of sources… AI will soon turn into an unhuman thing.’ Jeanne Lim, Board Director of Kami Intelligence and Hanson Robotics, imagined a future in which AI would allow us to realise and relearn what our own humanity is.
Covid-19 Travel Panel
In a world halted by Covid-19, Bart Buiring, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer from Marriott International Asia Pacific, has seen a lot of demand for staycations in Hong Kong. He said that the market is constantly changing, so the industry has to stay agile. ‘We are constantly watching travel restrictions and planning accordingly. It’s quite challenging but interesting,’ said Buiring. The pandemic has forced the industry to rethink and rebrand. In the short term they are very focused on reassuring travellers. Catherine So, Managing Director, North Asia Region, Expedia Group, said regardless of Covid-19, ‘We are here to connect supply and demand. Regardless of what they are looking for, it doesn’t change our consumer-focused mindset.’
Cars of Tomorrow
Two of the most prestigious car companies in the world, Porsche and Lamborghini, came together to talk innovation and what to expect in the future. In response to how Lamborghini will shift to become a more sustainable company, Albert Wong, Director, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macau, Lamborghini said, ‘from a supercar point of view, there are different ways of achieving our core values, in how we envision a cleaner future.’ Considering working with different materials to redesign motor placement, the designer can play a lot more with aerodynamics and efficiency. Pinky Lai, Founder and CEO, Brainchild Design Consultants and Former Chief Designer at Porsche poked fun at the idea of AI driving, asking rhetorically, ‘If you had the chance to drive your dream sports car, would you switch on AI driving?’
John-Simon Purcell is Senior Director, Product & Technical Strategy at Prosus Group/Naspers, where he advises on new venture investments and provides operating guidance to Prosus’ worldwide portfolio in the areas of product, growth and technology. He discussed the constraints on the possible solutions to problems out there, hinting at Covid-19, saying that now is a great time for rethinking old, pre-existing problems. He said companies worth investing in ‘are the ones that actually understand the problem they are tackling.’ Regardless of the solution, this problem is something that humanity will always have to deal with. ‘Don’t be a solution that is in search of a problem.’
The Changing Face of Commerce
How do you transform your business to something more digital? E-commence is a must moving forward, growing from local to global. Jennifer Tam, Director, Chicks, highlighted the importance of getting an internal system in order. ‘It’s a lot of investment linking everything together.’
One-on-One Interview with Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao reflected on his professional career in and out of the ring and journey to becoming a senator in the Philippines. He said he is grateful for all the support he received along the way, especially when he was just a poor boxer. That is why he set up and invested in businesses that focus on creating social impact, in order to give back to the society. ‘Business investments are important to professional athletes as well, because they don’t know what will happen after the fight is over,’ he added.
The Role of Diversity and Inclusion in Impact and Innovation
Looking at how we can encourage business to embrace diversity and inclusion, the panel of young entrepreneurs each in their own way discussed how they have developed their businesses based on different themes of diversity and inclusion within the context of the LGBT community. Palis Pitsuttisarun, Founder of Prism, Jason Miao, Founder of Pacific Connect Group, and Ryan Figueiredo, Executive Director of Equal Asia Foundation, all found that diversity and inclusiveness in a startup ecosystem result in incredibly innovative ideas.
Purposeful Business: Tangible Steps towards Impact
Three business owners got to the root of why they do business and how this effort can benefit themselves, their teams and the wider community. John Basnage, Managing Director, Full Circle Capital, in reference to human capital in companies, said ‘when you create a system that doesn’t use your resources fully, your business suffers.’ Mark Gilmour, Founder, Rising Brightly added that ‘the essence of being a true leader… is to be a true authentic version of yourself. Be honest about your shortcomings.’ Allyn Shaw, President and CTO at Recycle Track Systems, also said that ‘we often get so wrapped up in the products or the services we are creating’ that we forget to ask ourselves, ‘what benefits do your products and services have for the communities you serve?’ It is not just to make money – it has to have some sort of purpose. The team wants to have something to believe in.
Decade of Action: Youth Leadership in Global Innovation
Iim Fahima Jachja, Founder and CEO of Queen Rides, an online-andoffline women empowerment platform in its fifth year has organically grown to having around 400,000 female users in the APAC region. She discussed how her business came about, starting with issues regarding safety, which snowballed into a movement offline and social campaign online, gathering awareness and attracting women to the platform, and has eventually grown to a size that forced the government to get involved. Regarding Covid-19 and social entrepreneurships, she said ‘we won’t go back to the old normal. What we need to do is think ahead about what we are supposed to do in the next two years. What lies ahead is a much bumpier road, especially for social entrepreneurs.’Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder, Hult Prize Foundation, said ‘we don’t look to rebound. We are looking to be anti-fragile. It’s the best time it’s ever been to be an impact entrepreneur. The world has never needed us more.’