FoundersHK, created to strengthen Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem, holds its first demo day – TechCrunch


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. Immediately the non-profit, which began as an occasions and mentoring community, held the primary demo day of FoundersHK Speed up, its equity-free accelerator program, which was created to assist put together Hong Kong startups to boost funding and scale globally.

Eleven startups (a full checklist is beneath) representing numerous sectors—pet care, fintech, insurance coverage and training, to call a couple of—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 Methods, which was acquired by Oracle for $8.5 billion in 2008, Edith Yeung, former 500 Startups common accomplice and Phil Chen, founding father of HTC Vive. All three are additionally companions in Hong Kong-based enterprise agency Race Capital.

Certainly one of FounderHK’s targets is to revive hope to Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem. When requested what which means to her, Yeung stated, “In 2019, I landed on the airport in Hong Kong, the place hundreds of younger folks had been protesting. I used to be overcome with unhappiness and even took a photograph so I wouldn’t overlook how I felt concerning the turmoil there. As an individual born and raised in Hong Kong, I couldn’t simply stand by and do nothing. I noticed mobilizing entrepreneurship and serving to founders construct their startups was the easiest way to contribute and assist, so FounderHK was born to just do that.”

Certainly one of its targets is to assist Hong Kong startups safe extra funding. “A number of lively buyers in Hong Kong don’t put money into native Hong Kong corporations. The half that could be very ironic is that every one unicorns in Hong Kong raised cash from abroad,” Yeung stated.

FoundersHK connects startups with mentors, a lot of whom are from Hong Kong, and work at main enterprise corporations and tech corporations like Fb, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Apple and Seize. It held its first occasion in 2019, earlier than the pandemic hit, and has since continued internet hosting instructional occasions on-line.

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 really money-driven place, so while you say that none of this will probably be money-driven, individuals are shocked,” stated Chuang. “One of many issues we actually need to repair first is the networking problem, as a result of folks be taught from different folks, however they aren’t related and it’s very onerous to be taught.”

Regardless that Hong Kong founders is perhaps reluctant to speak about their challenges at first, they’re longing for the chance, he added. “After the primary particular person has shared what their greatest drawback is, everybody else shares, as a result of they now know all of them have widespread issues. That brings numerous groups collectively and that’s a tradition altering factor.”

Chuang says that a whole bunch of startups have gone by means of 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 accomplice at 500 Startups, was recruited to run FoundersHK Speed up. This system 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 Companions.

“We’re discovering numerous Hong Kongers from in all places who need to assist assist the neighborhood and take a look at these corporations,” stated Yeung.

The previous few weeks had been spent prepping startups for demo day, and ensuring they don’t promote themselves quick in pitches, one other tradition change FoundersHK needs to encourage. “Fundraising is a very huge a part of this accelerator, actually the primary factor is to show them what they should do, what points of interest have they got and the right way to do pitch it,” Chuang stated. “A number of our work is connecting them with buyers to pitch.”

A part of FoundersHK’s work helps startups discover companions in the best markets. Since Hong Kong is a small market, most startups start desirous about worldwide growth from the beginning, together with Southeast Asia, the USA and mainland China.

Greater than 100 buyers from these markets attended FoundersHK Speed up’s demo day.

“To get 100 buyers from across the globe in entrance of a bunch of Hong Kong startups, that’s by no means occurred earlier than,” stated Chuang. “It is a first and we’re hoping this may lead into future packages. Bonnie is a mastermind and our aim is to spiral these type of occasions and do increasingly.”

People from FoundersHK Accelerate's leadership team and first batch of founders

Folks from FoundersHK Speed up’s management crew and first batch of founders

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 speak to clients and shut gross sales. Since they don’t have a centralized hub, which means social commerce sellers must do numerous busywork, whereas lacking out on worthwhile information that may enhance conversion charges. Sleekflow is a SaaS promoting platform for companies that allows them to construct buyer stream automation (for instance, sending affords if a procuring cart has been deserted) and analytics to maintain 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 “tremendous app for restaurant administration” 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 scale back the quantity of labor spent on operations, whereas growing 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 will probably deal with stock buying, cost and analytics. DimOrder plans so as to add central kitchen and college lunch field ordering for 108 faculties 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 can develop to Southeast Asia subsequent 12 months.

Spaceship is a logistics platform targeted on the fragmented cross-border courier, specific and parcel companies market. With greater than 100,000 clients thus far, Spaceship lets sellers evaluate suppliers, declare cargo content material, selected time slots for shipments, make funds and observe packages end-to-end. It additionally affords client companies like logistics reserving and relocation and transferring 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 far 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 concentrate on explicit fields. The platform broadcasts job openings and matches employers with recruiters based mostly on their sector, experience and desires. FindRecruiter says its recruiters can earn 25% extra in commissions and save 30 hours on cold-calling each month. Its purchasers 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 purchasers like Wistron and Jabil. Even on manufacturing flooring with many automated machines, greater than 72% of the work continues to be executed by folks, says PowerArena’s founders. To make use of 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 facility.

WadaBento helps eating places develop their operations and improve revenue margins with automated merchandising machines in well-trafficked areas. It has offered 140,000 bento bins in Hong Kong thus far. Eating places that need to develop normally have two expensive choices—opening new places or supply apps. WadaBento takes lunch bins ready by eating places and places them into their patented merchandising machines. Meals is saved above 65 levels throughout supply and whereas they’re within the machines, and hygiene is monitored by means of IoT gadgets. WadaBento has acquired patents in Japan, U.S. and China and not too long ago signed a take care of Hong Kong’s largest quick meals chain. It additionally not too long ago shipped a machine to Japan, its first abroad market. It plans to deploy greater than 200 machines by the primary half of 2022.

Retykle needs to scale back style waste by making it simpler to resell maternity and kids’s put on. Co-founder Sarah Garner, who spent 10 years working at luxurious style corporations together with LVMH, stated children on common outgrow 1,700 of clothes by the point they’re 18, however solely about 5% of youngsters’s clothes reaches the secondary market. Retykle’s aim is to maintain as many gadgets in circulation as potential. Retykle carries gadgets for infants to mid-teens. All gadgets are offered 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 corporate 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. College students could make on-demand bookings with academics, and both meet with them just about or at an offline location. The platform helps practice academics and most courses are 1:1. It serves a variety of scholars, together with children aged 3 to fifteen, 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 provides video vet consultations, home visits and pharmacy deliveries, together with medicine and home-based diagnostic checks. Co-founder Athena Lee stated ZumVet was created to assist pet homeowners who don’t have a daily vet or reside in areas the place there aren’t numerous veterinarian clinics. Vets carry out consultations, create remedy plans and provide assist remotely, or make home calls. Zumvet works with a community of unbiased vets and affords subscription plans to make pet care extra inexpensive.

Huge Bang Academy was created to handle growing demand for STEAM training and desires to make studying as “compelling as a film, enjoyable as a theme park and academic as a classroom” for teenagers. Its accredited curriculum contains movies and customized lesson plans for every scholar. It additionally encourages a hands-on method with experiment kits which might be delivered to children’ houses. The platform at the moment has 200 interactive classes and a 70% course completion fee, 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. Huge 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 working, biking or mountain climbing accidents. It additionally not too long ago 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 unintended 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.


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