FoundersHK was created to strengthen Hong Kong’s startup neighborhood, which has weathered greater than two years of political turmoil, together with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the non-profit, which began as an occasions and mentoring community, held the first demo day of FoundersHK Accelerate, its equity-free accelerator program, which was created to assist put together Hong Kong startups to elevate funding and scale globally.
Eleven startups (a full checklist is under) representing numerous sectors—pet care, fintech, insurance coverage and training, to identify just a few—pitched an viewers of about 500 mentors and buyers. They had been chosen from a pool of 150 candidates by FoundersHK’s creators, together with Alfred Chuang, co-founder of BEA Systems, which was acquired by Oracle for $8.5 billion in 2008, Edith Yeung, former 500 Startups normal associate and Phil Chen, founding father of HTC Vive. All three are additionally companions in Hong Kong-based enterprise agency Race Capital.
One of FounderHK’s objectives is to restore hope to Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem. When requested what meaning to her, Yeung stated, “In 2019, I landed at the airport in Hong Kong, where thousands of young people were protesting. I was overcome with sadness and even took a photo so I wouldn’t forget how I felt about the turmoil there. As a person born and raised in Hong Kong, I couldn’t just stand by and do nothing. I realized mobilizing entrepreneurship and helping founders build their startups was the best way to contribute and help, so FounderHK was born to do just that.”
One of its objectives is to assist Hong Kong startups safe extra funding. “A lot of active investors in Hong Kong don’t invest in local Hong Kong companies. The part that is very ironic is that all unicorns in Hong Kong raised money from overseas,” Yeung stated.
FoundersHK connects startups with mentors, lots of whom are from Hong Kong, and work at main enterprise corporations and tech corporations like Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Apple and Grab. It held its first occasion in 2019, earlier than the pandemic hit, and has since continued internet hosting instructional occasions online.
One cause why FoundersHK is equity-free is as a result of it needs to focus first on making a tradition change. “Hong Kong is a very money-driven place, so when you say that none of this will be money-driven, people are shocked,” stated Chuang. “One of the things we really want to fix first is the networking issue, because people learn from other people, but they are not connected and it’s very hard to learn.”
Even although Hong Kong founders could be reluctant to discuss their challenges at first, they’re longing for the chance, he added. “After the first person has shared what their biggest problem is, everyone else shares, because they now know they all have common problems. That brings a lot of teams together and that’s a culture changing thing.”
Chuang says that tons of of startups have gone by FoundersHK’s mentorship program. One cause it began its accelerator program was as a result of many groups wished extra assist earlier than approaching buyers. Bonnie Cheng, a former enterprise associate at 500 Startups, was recruited to run FoundersHK Accelerate. The program contains weekly check-ins with FounderHK’s leaders, and a mentorship community that features folks from Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs, Alibaba, Monks Hill and Matrix Partners.
“We’re finding a lot of Hong Kongers from everywhere who want to help support the community and check out these companies,” stated Yeung.
The previous few weeks had been spent prepping startups for demo day, and ensuring they don’t promote themselves brief in pitches, one other tradition change FoundersHK needs to encourage. “Fundraising is a really big part of this accelerator, really the main thing is to teach them what they need to do, what attractions do they have and how to do pitch it,” Chuang stated. “A lot of our work is connecting them with investors to pitch.”
Part of FoundersHK’s work helps startups discover companions in the proper markets. Since Hong Kong is a small market, most startups start eager about worldwide growth from the beginning, together with Southeast Asia, the United States and mainland China.
More than 100 buyers from these markets attended FoundersHK Accelerate’s demo day.
“To get 100 investors from around the globe in front of a bunch of Hong Kong startups, that’s never happened before,” stated Chuang. “This is a first and we’re hoping this will lead into future programs. Bonnie is a mastermind and our goal is to spiral these kind of events and do more and more.”
Meet FoundersHK’s first batch:
Sleekflow is a B2B gross sales platform created particularly for social commerce corporations. Most social commerce sellers depend on WhatsApp and different messaging apps to discuss to prospects and shut gross sales. Since they don’t have a centralized hub, meaning social commerce sellers want to do loads of busywork, whereas lacking out on useful knowledge that may enhance conversion charges. Sleekflow is a SaaS promoting platform for companies that permits them to construct buyer stream automation (for instance, sending presents if a buying cart has been deserted) and analytics to preserve observe of gross sales efficiency. It integrates with messaging apps, social media networks and CRM software program like Salesforce. Sleekflow, which works primarily with mid-market and enterprise corporations, plans to develop internationally by working with channel companions.
DimOrder is a “super app for restaurant management” that claims it’s now utilized by 5% of eating places in Hong Kong. Co-founder Ben Wong comes from a household of restaurant homeowners and stated he wished to create an answer to cut back the quantity of labor spent on operations, whereas rising revenue margins. DimOrder’s frontend contains ordering, supply with built-in logistics suppliers all through Hong Kong and advertising instruments. On the again finish, it may deal with stock buying, fee and analytics. DimOrder plans to add central kitchen and college lunch field ordering for 108 colleges in Hong Kong subsequent 12 months to its frontend, together with working capital loans, stock administration and an HR system to its again finish. It will develop to Southeast Asia subsequent 12 months.
Spaceship is a logistics platform centered on the fragmented cross-border courier, specific and parcel companies market. With greater than 100,000 prospects thus far, Spaceship lets sellers examine suppliers, declare cargo content material, selected time slots for shipments, make funds and observe packages end-to-end. It additionally presents shopper companies like logistics reserving and relocation and shifting companies, and can launch different verticals, together with a market and journey planning. Spaceship plans to develop into Taiwan earlier than coming into different markets like Singapore, Thailand and Japan.
FindRecruiter is a bounty recruiting platform to assist companies discover expertise rather more shortly than conventional recruiting strategies. Co-founder Lawton Lai was a recruiter for a decade earlier than launching the startup, and stated it usually takes about 52 days to fill a gap. FindRecruiter can cut back that to about 17 days by working with greater than 500 on-demand recruiters throughout six Asian nations who focus on specific fields. The platform broadcasts job openings and matches employers with recruiters primarily based on their sector, experience and wishes. FindRecruiter says its recruiters can earn 25% extra in commissions and save 30 hours on cold-calling each month. Its shoppers embody startup unicorns and bluechip corporations.
PowerArena is a deep-learning analytics platform to assist monitor manufacturing operations. It at the moment focuses on the electronics and automotive sectors, with shoppers like Wistron and Jabil. Even on manufacturing flooring with many automated machines, greater than 72% of the work remains to be performed by folks, says PowerArena’s founders. To use PowerArena, producers set up 1080p cameras and join them to the platform for real-time analytics. For instance, if there’s a sudden slowdown in manufacturing, PowerArena can hone in on the trigger, like upkeep being carried out in a single a part of the manufacturing unit.
WadaBento helps eating places develop their operations and improve revenue margins with automated merchandising machines in well-trafficked areas. It has bought 140,000 bento packing containers in Hong Kong thus far. Restaurants that need to develop often have two pricey choices—opening new areas or supply apps. WadaBento takes lunch packing containers ready by eating places and places them into their patented merchandising machines. Food is stored above 65 levels throughout supply and whereas they’re within the machines, and hygiene is monitored by IoT gadgets. WadaBento has obtained patents in Japan, U.S. and China and lately signed a cope with Hong Kong’s largest quick meals chain. It additionally lately shipped a machine to Japan, its first abroad market. It plans to deploy greater than 200 machines by the first half of 2022.
Retykle needs to cut back trend waste by making it simpler to resell maternity and kids’s put on. Co-founder Sarah Garner, who spent 10 years working at luxurious trend corporations together with LVMH, stated youngsters on common outgrow 1,700 of clothes by the point they’re 18, however solely about 5% of kids’s clothes reaches the secondary market. Retykle’s objective is to preserve as many objects in circulation as potential. Retykle carries objects for infants to mid-teens. All objects are bought on consignment: sellers ship clothes to Retykle, which then inspects every bit earlier than itemizing it on the positioning. When an merchandise sells, customers get an e-mail alert and money or credit score transfers. The firm plans to launch in Singapore subsequent month and in Australia in 2022.
Preface Coding is a tech training platform that gives scalable however customizable coding courses. Students could make on-demand bookings with academics, and both meet with them nearly or at an offline location. The platform helps prepare academics and most courses are 1:1. It serves a variety of scholars, together with youngsters aged 3 to 15, college college students (particularly Asian abroad college students within the U.S. and Australia) and senior professionals within the monetary, administration and consulting industries. It’s additionally made partnerships with universities and banks, and plans to scale globally.
ZumVet is a pet care startup that gives video vet consultations, home visits and pharmacy deliveries, together with treatment and home-based diagnostic checks. Co-founder Athena Lee stated ZumVet was created to assist pet homeowners who don’t have an everyday vet or dwell in areas the place there aren’t loads of veterinarian clinics. Vets carry out consultations, create remedy plans and supply assist remotely, or make home calls. Zumvet works with a community of unbiased vets and presents subscription plans to make pet care extra inexpensive.
Big Bang Academy was created to tackle rising demand for STEAM training and needs to make studying as “compelling as a movie, fun as a theme park and educational as a classroom” for youths. Its accredited curriculum contains movies and customized lesson plans for every scholar. It additionally encourages a hands-on strategy with experiment kits which are delivered to youngsters’ properties. The platform at the moment has 200 interactive periods and a 70% course completion charge, a excessive quantity for an edtech platform. It enterprise fashions embody B2B, partnering with instructional organizations, and B2C subscription fashions, and about 80% of its buyer base is recurring. Big Bang Academy plans to diversify its content material and create studying toys, too.
YAS Microinsurance is an insurtech startup with insurance policies that may be activated in as little as 5 seconds, together with protection for operating, biking or mountaineering accidents. It additionally lately signed its first partnership with Kowloon Motor Bus, one of many largest public bus corporations in Hong Kong, to cowl its passengers, together with loss or theft or unintentional medical bills. YAS Microinsurance launched 4 months in the past and says it now has $800,000 in dedicated income. About 6,300 insurance policies had been activated over the previous couple of months, and it at the moment prompts about 600 new insurance policies per week.