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Issue 04


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 2014 has been a great year for entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, CNN named Hong Kong one of the top 10 emerging cities to launch a startup; the EYE Program study revealed a 300% growth in HK’s startup ecosystem since 2009; and the HKTDC survey revealed that the number of young people (18-35) involved in or considering entrepreneurship nearly doubled since 2011 to 15%. But we don’t even have to delve into the numbers to see the growth in entrepreneurship happening - it’s all around us. From new accelerator programs and frequent pitch nights to entrepreneurship events and classes for kids, not to mention international startups and franchises establishing offices in Hong Kong, the city has been attracting a lot of international attention…and not just for its protests! And the year is not over. StartmeupHK, Barcamp and Inno Expo are all taking place before the year is up. This is a great time to boost sales for your startup and finish strong. Check out pages 32-39 for ideas on improving your holiday PR, optimizing your website, and ending the year on a high note with some great team-building. Also, don’t forget to check out gift ideas from leading HK entrepreneurs. As for 2015 predictions, check out pages 12-21 to get the lowdown on Tech, SEO, UI, Bitcoin and China, and a sneak peek of the future. It’s never too early to start planning for the forthcoming year.

November/December 2014 JUMPSTART


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Speaking of attracting international talent, a few months ago HK welcomed an incredible new animator who is sure to make a splash in the city. Read the story of Jump Willy; his talent is uncommon and I’m excited to share his story with you. We’re also excited to start a new tradition at Jumpstart - a caption contest by worldrenowned illustrator Christoph Niemann, whose work appears in The New Yorker among other publications. Submit a caption for a chance to win two roundtrip tickets anywhere in Asia! See page 61. As this is the last issue of the year, Happy (early) Holidays and wishing you the best in Q4 and the New Year! If you haven’t yet made the leap to entrepreneurship, join us in 2015. A fantastic community awaits and you’ll be in for a ride you won’t regret. Yana Robbins Editor-In-Chief Editor-In-Chief: Yana Robbins

Sales: Gavin Mak

Editors: Lucy Banks

Website Manager: Rosalyn Smith

Designer: Bobbie Miltcheva

Marketing Associate: Jim Coke

Contributors: Sharon Maloney Allison Baum Jeffrey Broer Kimberley Hobson Chris Osborne David Hanaford Jaclyn Tsui George Harrap Thomas Glucksmann-Smith Ashley Galina Dudarenok Janice Chaka Adrian O’Sullivan

Marketing Assistants: Sandra Wu Rochelle Lee

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Jumpstart is now available at over 350 locations, including: Airport Lounges: CNAC Lounge Dynasty Lounge Royal Orchid Lounge Emirates Lounge United Lounge Plaza Premium Lounge EAST Plaza Premium Lounge WEST Morning Calm ( Korean Air) SQ Lounge

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Copyright 2014 Jumpstart. The contents of the magazine are fully protected by copyright and nothing may be reprinted without permission. The publisher and editors accept no responsibility in respect to any products, goods or services that may be advertised or referred to in this issue or for any errors, omissions, or mistakes in any such advertisements or references. The mention of any specific companies or products in articles or advertisements does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by this magazine or its publisher in preference to others of a similar nature which are not mentioned or advertised. Printed by Magnum Print Company Limited. 11B E-Tat Factory Building, 4 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong

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EVENTS & WORKSHOPS Sunday, November 9, 7-8pm The Art of Networking Learn how to make an entrance and work a room. This interactive workshop will give you useful tips on how to be a more effective networker, whether you’re a new or experienced professional. Taught by Bernice Lee, Director of ELI, The Etiquette & Leadership Institute. @ The Wynd, $100 HKD

Monday, November 10, 7-10pm How to Get Your Product Manufactured StartwareHK is back. Learn about Design for Manufacturing as well as finding, vetting and selecting the right factory for your product. The organizer is Martin Kessler, Head of Marketing at Ambi Labs. @ The Hive

Monday, November 10, 6-9pm A Night of Jazz to Kick off StartmeupHK Week Join Blueprint (Swire Properties’ new coworking space and accelerator) for one night of live Jazz to kick off the StartmeupHK Week. Drop in for food, drink and a sneak peek of Blueprint while they are still in beta phase. @

Monday, November 10 – Friday, November 14 Startup Bootcamp – Idea to Pitch in 5 Days In this 5-day boot camp, you will learn how to use the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) philosophy to test and validate your ideas quickly and efficiently. After the 5 days, you will pitch your final product idea and roadmap to a panel of angel investors at NEST who are eager and ready to invest in creative and capable budding entrepreneurs. @ General Assembly, $11,000 HKD

Thursday, November 13, 8 – 9pm 3D Printing Meetup Casual catch-up for people interested in Additive Manufacturing and the future of 3D printing. @ Dim Sum Labs


Saturday, November 15, 9:30am - 6:30pm Barcamp HK The biggest ad-hoc user-generated conference in Hong Kong is back. There’s no speaker list or fixed schedule until the actual event. All content comes from attendees. Anyone can host a session, participate in discussions, demo a project, talk about code, share cautionary tales, and pretty much do anything techy or geeky. @ The Chinese University of Hong Kong, FREE

Saturday, November 22, 8:30am – 6pm Learn From Startup Failures Postmortem.HK is a no-bullshit educational startup event that tries to draw lessons from startup failures. This is not going to be your regular startup “entertainment,” but one day of shared startup lessons from which you can actually learn. @ Cyberport Entrepreneurship Centre, $99 to $250 HKD

Thursday, December 4, 7-8pm The Power of Free - Feel Your Market This is a series of seven talks where Stephen Barnes shares lessons about starting over and the realities of a modern Internet-enabled economy. @ Paperclip Startup Campus, FREE

Thursday, December 4 - Saturday, December 6 HKTDC Inno Expo This year’s expo will have 40 seminars and forums highlighting the latest branding strategies, mobile commerce, tips for sourcing funding, and more. The expo will feature a “Startup Zone” where tech startups can showcase their business to 17,000 attendees.

Find More Events Online For a full calendar of startup events or to submit an event, visit:

Entrepreneurship Camp for Kids November 8, 9, 15, 16 Pinnacle is organizing a 4-day kids camp on money orientation and entrepreneurship for 8-11 year olds. These workshops will discuss the history of money, credit-cards savings, budgeting, and other topics via interactive games. For more information contact:

StartmeupHK Week: November 8 - 15 The StartmeupHK Week is back! Created by InvestHK, the week-long entrepreneurship celebration will feature events organized by the local startup community. Visit for an up-to-date list of events including our own “Etail Friday” on November 14th, a day of shopping and special offers to support the HK startup community.

Hidden Truffles X’Mas Bazaar November 15, 11 - 6pm @ The Space, 210 Hollywood Road Hidden Truffles is Hong Kong’s first exclusive online platform that hand-picks and showcases the finest high-quality small & home businesses in Hong Kong. The Bazaar will feature Christmas gifts by 33+ local artisanal vendors. For more information visit:






Join the StartmeupHK Venture Forum on November 11, 2014 and cast your vote on the year’s best startups Hong Kong has long been home to entrepreneurs, run by both local and overseas founders. The city is an ideal hub for business given its low and simple tax regime, ease of setting up, robust rule of law, world-class infrastructure, and proximity to Mainland China and Asia’s fastest growing markets. Hong Kong’s international culture, dynamism and bustle are second to none. STARTMEUPHK WEEK (8-15 NOVEMBER) In 2013, InvestHK launched the StartmeupHK Venture Programme which included a one-stop portal for startups (, a global business plan competition and a Forum during which leading local and overseas ecosystem champions judge the contest winners and discuss Hong Kong’s merits as a startup destination and why entrepreneurs should set up in the city and take their business global. This year, InvestHK’s StartmeupHK business plan competition has gone global, with 550 entries from entrepreneurs and founders in 47 economies worldwide. The StartmeupHK Week from 8-15 November will feature events organised by the local startup community. The climax of the week for InvestHK is the forum on 11 November which will feature the 12 finalists from the 2014 StartmeupHK competition. They will pitch their ideas to local and overseas judges as well as an audience of angel investors, venture capitalists, and both overseas and local business communities. The forum will also feature renowned international speakers including Phil Wickham, CEO, Kauffman Fellows; Dusan Stojanovic, Founder and Director, True Global Ventures and European Angel of the Year in 2013; Nadeem

Shaikh, Founder and Managing Director, Anthemis Group; and serial entrepreneur Richard Robinson, Cofounder and President of Yolu.


Local speakers who will share their startup experiences in Hong Kong include Yat Siu, Founder and CEO, Outblaze; Danny Yeung, Founding Partner, SXE Ventures and former CEO, Groupon East Asia; Ray Chan, CEO and Co-founder,, and Jason Chiu, CEO, CherryPicks. HKSARG’s Financial Secretary John Tsang and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So will attend the Forum and present the three grand awards. In addition, there will also be special awards for the best ventures in FinTech, SmartCity and Data Analytics. The largest number of entries to this year’s StartmeupHK competition came from Hong Kong, followed by the US, Israel, India and the UK. Entries are diverse in terms of their business and models but half of them are from the innovation and technology and information and communications areas. Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK Simon Galpin is delighted by the number of entries, which he said is a clear indication of Hong Kong’s continued appeal for startup businesses. “I am very pleased to see that the competition has reached more entrepreneur-led businesses in more overseas economies. Hong Kong offers an ideal foothold and a great opportunity for them to scale up and ‘go global’. Our message about Hong Kong’s rapidly developing startup ecosystem is spreading, which is one of the purposes of our StartmeupHK brand and competition,” he said. The competition is well supported by a number of generous sponsors, who are providing prizes worth in excess of US$500,000. (see box on the next page).


PRIZES Winners will receive benefits worth over US$500,000: • •

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Sponsored trip to Hong Kong* Pitching to angel investors, venture capitalists, strategic partners and the wider startup community Services from leading accounting, legal, hosting and professional services firms Business matching and networking opportunities Mentorship and assistance to build your business Free work space in Hong Kong Media exposure opportunities Business incorporation and trademark application services *For finalists based outside Hong Kong

Sponsors include: Accenture, Baker Tilly, CoCoon, CWL Partners, DLA Piper, Dorsett Hospitality,, Fintrade-Mercer Advisor Ltd, Fintrade-Mercer Corporate Law Ltd, Hong Kong Commons, KPMG, Loft, NEST, Orangefield, PaperclipHK, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Soft Layer-IBM, Schneider Electric, Tanner De Witt and WYND Co-Working Space. Bloomberg, Jumpstart Magazine and the Hong Kong Economic Journal are the programme’s exclusive media partners.


About InvestHK Setting up a company in Hong Kong is easy and inexpensive and is made even easier with the ongoing support of InvestHK. The department supports overseas and Mainland businesses to set up and expand in Hong Kong. It partners with clients on a long-term basis and is available at any stage of their business development process. The department has recently set up an inhouse team to accelerate assistance to startups, marking another milestone for InvestHK in its outreach to founders and the local and overseas startup communities. The startup team will further reinforce Hong Kong’s position as a leading destination and hub for startups and attract entrepreneurs and founders to set up their businesses in the city. The team will work closely with InvestHK’s industry specialists in eight priority sectors: Business & Professional Services, Consumer Products, Creative Industries, Financial Services, Information & Communications Technology, Innovation & Technology, Tourism & Hospitality and Transport & Industrial, plus an overseas network of staff and representatives based in 28 key business cities worldwide. The department’s services are free, customised and confidential.

GET CONNECTED WITH US: Facebook: Twitter: #startmeuphk Enquiry:

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What Business Lessons Did You Learn in 2014?

Business founders around the world share their stories The most important lesson that I learnt in business in 2014 was that, without

data, I know nothing. I don’t know what my customers want, I don’t know what they’re responding to, I don’t know what really catches their attention until I’ve tested it and have data to back it up.

One lesson from 2014 - a large number of small customers is better than a few large customers. Smaller clients can help smooth the flow of funds and help decrease risks. One unfaithful large customer can make your business collapse. Alice Fan,

After 6 years in business as the owner of a talent agency and brand management firm, I have learned one pretty valuable lesson: keep up with lease renewal deadlines. Every year that I’ve been a tenant, the dates are sometimes missed, but always seemed to work out. This year, I missed it by a day and the landlord isn’t renewing. Less than 30 days and I have to move my entire business, whilst somehow attempting to not miss a day in action. Josh Robbins,

So far in 2014, I’ve run 87 conversion rate tests to see what would increase optins and sales; and my initial assumptions were proved incorrect in 63 of those tests. The tests that I thought would produce big results often resulted in insignificant improvements and the tests I thought would generate minimal impact often produced the most significant improvements! The big change that this has had on how I operate my business is that every decision I make is now data driven. I don’t guess, I don’t assume, I just run the tests, crunch the data and let my customers tell me what they really want (despite what they might say to my face). Leigh Louey-Gung,


One of the most important things we learned was that customer satisfaction should be of the highest priority when running a business. Customers don’t hate issues, they just hate issues that don’t get resolved. Being a new startup, it was a challenge for us to gain the trust of our clients. But with constant interaction and continuous attention given to the problems they faced, we could develop that trust factor. Swapnil Jain,

Have a business lesson to share? Write for Jumpstart. Contact our editorial team at

For me, the takeaway from 2014 is that

partnerships of any kind have to be approached with a very critical eye. Earlier this year, I invited a pair of colleagues to co-author a book with me. While they were both initially excited, they both bailed on the project when it was nearing the deadline. The experience made me realize that I had mistakenly assumed that they had the same high level of enthusiasm and skills as me. For both of my former authors, I had only read their writing on smallscale projects such as articles, blogs and press releases. On the plus side, my friendships with both of them will continue and the project will still meet its original deadline, with one person at the helm instead of three. Christina Hamlett,

2014 was a great year for practicing what I preach and remembering what I forgot. One of the lessons for this year is - just because you

can do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should. Working with small business owners as a business coach, I’m constantly reminding them that they are at their most valuable within the company when they are doing the work that can make the biggest impact (closing a sale, offering a high end service, creating affiliate partnerships, etc.). What you don’t want to find yourself doing is the entry level work (answering phones, opening mail, responding to basic e-mails, updating social media, etc.). If you are in a growth mode and you want to make more money, you need to focus your energy on meeting more people. This year I’m turning over my social media updates, basic website work and sourcing speaking gigs to someone else; so I can do what I do best. Jennifer Martin,

In 2014, I learned a lot about focus. In my career I have started multiple businesses; and a few have failed and a few have been successful, but 2014 was the year of focus. I decided what my goals were and developed a strategy to get
there. During that time I noticed that staying focused was the biggest factor.
Staying focused not only on your goals, but staying focused on what you are
doing right now.
Multi-tasking can make you feel like you are getting a ton of things done, but it also leads to overwhelming projects and not completing things. Stay focused and keep your head down, success will come that way. Dan McGaw,

Never turn down a meeting, because you don’t know where it can lead.
 Mandy Fayne,

The business lesson we learnt in 2014 was not to put all our eggs on one basket. Plum produces an extensive range of high quality, Australiandesigned children & baby fashion, swimwear, sleepwear and baby sleep bags. One of our factories went bankrupt and it meant we had to quickly switch makers for the products. The products were delayed and we could not get them at the same price negotiated. With hindsight, we now know we should have split the load between several other factories. Eugenie Pepper,




Follow your instincts. I guess I should say I relearned this one in 2014, as it’s something I’ve always known; but this year, I really learned to trust my gut. When I “feel” that something is wrong or right for my business, I’ve learnt to trust and go with that feeling. It seldom fails and I’m never sorry when I follow my instincts. Michelle Garrett

The single most important lesson that I’ve learned about business in 2014 is that it is never too early to focus on growth. We mistakenly believed that if we focused on building the best product in [our] segment, our audience would simply gravitate towards us and marketing would naturally fall into place. That’s not how it works. You have to devote at least as much effort to acquiring traction as you do to building a killer product, because people are awash in new products and services, and there is only so much time in the day to try out new stuff. If you don’t proactively build a strong case as to why a potential customer should try your product instead of a competitor’s (or instead of simply doing nothing), nobody
is going to go out of their way to use it, and your business will be toast. Steve Palley,

I learned that my website is hideously ugly and drives people away.
Several people had previously told me this, but it’s sort of like telling someone that their clothes are ugly. It doesn’t help you, since if you knew how to dress sharp, you already would! Steve Silberberg,

I have used Google Ad Words almost since the day they made their debut.
For about 12 years it was truly my only source of paid advertising. This
year I let a pesky salesperson convince me to switch advertising platforms.
Without really doing my homework, I switched over, suspending my Google Ads account. I was stuck in a contract, with a $200 early termination fee. After 4 months, I received one order for $50. It cost me $800 to make that $50, and I had no additional income because my tried and proven method was not up and running. I had to work hard to overcome the disaster I had brought upon myself. Business lesson: stick with tried and true. Realize that with anything new and unproven, while it may have worked for others, if it’s not proven in your business, you are setting yourself up for major risk!
 Regina McRae,

Friends and business don’t mix. It seems this is a lesson that people hear time and time again, but it only resonates with you when you have lost friends because of the business. No matter what, eventually something will go wrong, and one or both of you will pull out that friend card. You may have to fire your friend. Your friend may quit. Having your friendships in the office makes business interactions so much more personal than they would be if you were dealing with just another employee. If you truly value your relationship, keep your friends and business separate. Hire the right person for the job - preferably not a close friend. Megan Ingenbrandt,

I am the CEO of a holding company, having subsidiaries across the world. Being worried of failing is the worst thing that can happen to any entrepreneur, especially when your surroundings are against you. At a certain point I decided not to be led by the monster inside my head and to be the master of my faith. In 2014, I learned to follow my gut instinct and it paid off. Donald Hagbe,


The most valuable business lesson I learned in 2014 was to realize that the business won’t stop unless you make it. As an entrepreneur, in the first three years of my business I worked 12 hour days. I worked through the weekends, blew off friends and family events, and even missed a few birthdays. I was getting overloaded with work! It wasn’t until this year that I realized work will
always be there, you will always have things on the ‘to do’ list, and the only way to enjoy

Simplify Your


life is to make time on the schedule for it. Whether it is no emails on the weekends, or giving yourself three nights a week with no business meetings, this rejuvenation period is vital to your
Instead of waiting for this ‘break’ to happen, you must schedule it and train others to expect that consistency from you. It may take a few weeks
but gradually people will realize that you aren’t answering emails on the weekend and they will make it their action item to get things to you by Friday morning. The only person keeping you from enjoying the
entrepreneurial ride as you go is YOU! Instituting this schedule has helped
me feel like I’m back in control of my life, instead of the business taking me on a wild ride!

Helping Hong Kong SME's with Xero Bookkeeping, Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Business Advice and Cloud Solution |

Kim Kaupe,

2014 was the year I learned the business lesson that management is not about control. I have used this year to become comfortable with the
notion that I cannot do everything myself and need to rely on others in a
cooperative effort.

 Sean Kane,

I didn’t need to waste my time on funding websites and chasing
after angel investors. I just needed to believe in my company and my
products, and let people see the passion and love (and solid business
plan) that I had for them. Once I started doing that, the investment
started rolling in. Andrew Bliss,

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I feel that 2014 has been a turning point for many technologies, ecosystems and services that are heading for the spotlight in 2015. Here are 9 tech trends that I think will shake up the tech and consumer world next year:

WEARABLE TECH You know how you can’t live without your smartphone? Well pretty soon, you’ll be holding it even closer. If the growing collection of wearable tech offerings weren’t already on people’s radars, they certainly will be now, after Apple’s recent announcement of the Apple Watch, due for release early next year. Google Glass, FitBit activity trackers, Samsung Galaxy Gear - we’ve seen wearable tech popping up throughout 2014 and I believe 2015 will be the year when it really moves into the mainstream. Wearable tech is going to completely change how we interact with our surroundings, monitor our health and how we understand ourselves, in a big way.




Starting with the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies are another technological innovation that we’ll see breaking into the mainstream in 2015. While they’re still not commonly used, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have showed more staying power than many initially expected (with the help of prominent VC’s). As more people learn about the virtual currency, more merchants are becoming comfortable accepting them and increasing public awareness and trust in supporting the currency systems. Bitcoin ATMS are popping up worldwide, which allow users to buy and sell Bitcoins, even letting them to cash out their bitcoins in their local currency. The movement is gaining momentum and merchants should consider being at the forefront.

THE RISE OF ROBOTICS Robotics are going to start moving out of a primarily industrial setting into people’s daily lives, as collaborative robots (cobots) become more adept about being able to recognize, anticipate and respond to interactions with humans. Handing tasks over to robots will help businesses to become more productive, as well as assist and protect employees by providing additional power, strength and support in the workplace.




No longer will artificial intelligence be the exclusive domain of universities and R&D labs. It’s looking to be one of the next big trends in tech, thanks to a wave of VC funding, interest from players like Facebook and Google, and an increase of available AIrelated college courses. Companies have realized that creative artificial intelligence systems a la HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey aren’t necessarily the way to go – or particularly beneficial for humankind – but by utilizing AI capabilities on a smaller level, we can facilitate and analyze business processes, as well as create and utilize data in new ways.



Paying for things is going to get quicker and easier. Wearable tech and smartphone apps will have you paying for things with just a swipe of your wrist. New companies, resources and products are simplifying the online check out process. Take Stripe, for example. The startup is reimagining how we buy things online by offering backend payment support for all types of businesses – from apps to Apple. Other current customers include TaskRabbit, Shopify, Twitter and now Facebook for the site’s forthcoming Buy button – not too shabby! The draw for these big businesses, as well as entrepreneurs of all sizes, comes from the availability to scale Stripe’s offerings to fit your business and product, allowing consumers to pay hassle free, whether they’re paying from their computer, smartphone or Apple Watch.



Just like seemingly everything else, education is moving online.

For entrepreneurs, this means seeing an increased opportunity for creating products that incorporate more technology into the classroom, as well as providing services and resources for selfdirected learning around the globe.





While 3D printing has been gaining traction slowly in the past several years, it seems set to boom in 2015. The recent availability of desktop printers has fundamentally changed the industry and the way in which people think about 3D printing and how it can work for them. With the ability to create practically anything, from rare machine parts to prosthetic limbs, the potential for 3D printing is endless and opens up a whole new world of possibilities.


Paying for goods online may currently be a somewhat clunky process in the first world, but it’s virtually nonexistent in the developing world. In these places, citizens have limited access to general banking, sending or receiving funds online, or paying with credit cards. Many FinTech startups have already been developing systems to provide better access and create payment gateways for these markets, and further progress will open up a whole new market for startups looking to reach their customers in different ways. Not only will financial progress in developing markets help spur online commerce, but there will also be an increase in online platforms offering loans. Already, startup Lenddo is leveraging social media profiles and online communities to help determine relevant candidates for small loans in countries like Mexico and the Philippines.



Pretty soon, you’ll be able to find just about anyone to do just about anything for you for less than the usual going rate. Already we’re seeing a massive increase in businesses managing peer-to-peer sharing economies. Ride sharing system, Uber, is reportedly worth 18 billion dollars and constantly moving into global markets, and startups are thinking of how, and where, they can deliver everyday services in different ways and I believe the trend isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. With this said, these sharing economies tend to be less regulated than traditional business models. As they gain popularity, we can also expect them to become more monitored by governments and lawmakers. Chris Osborne is the founder of Founders Grid – a small, remote team who build products, and who also have an active blog focused on entrepreneurship. Chris is based in Asia, having lived out of hotels across the Asia Pacific region for nine years. You can contact Chris directly (and he is currently hiring) at





5 Latest Trends and Tips for 2015 While Google continues to update its search engine algorithms (sometimes twice in one month), it’s no wonder that the field of SEO is littered with speculation and hypothetical practices.

Constantly improving search engine software means many SEO experts are heading towards a more holistic approach, more in line with content marketing strategy and traditional marketing techniques. In this article, I’ll share current trends and other tips to use when developing your latest SEO plan for the future.

1. CONVERSATIONAL KEYWORD PHRASES Google’s 2013 HUMMINGBIRD UPDATE brought many changes to how keywords are interpreted on the web. The most considerable change from this update improved the way the search algorithm understands “conversational” phrases – questions entered in a search query to make sure the whole phrase is understood, rather than each particular word. So, what does this mean for SEO experts?


Don’t use your PR company to build links and make sure linkbacks are from trustworthy sites. Try to ensure anchor text linking back to your site is more natural and less “keyword focused.” Make sure your website is useful, entertaining and provides your audience with sharable content and multimedia. Establish a strong social presence across all major platforms.

It used to be that a link was a link and the more you had, the better you ranked. However, now Google takes into account “implied links,” also called “brand mentions,” and the ratio of how they are spread around the web.

2. TRADITIONAL LINKS AND BRAND MENTIONS Yes, INBOUND LINKS are still considered the most important factor in page ranking, but the way Google interprets these links has changed. Google caught on to certain old practices that link building campaigns brought on. It used to be that a link was a link and the more you had, the better you ranked. However, now Google takes into account “implied


When 1 OUT OF EVERY 5 PEOPLE in the world own a smartphone and 1 out of every 17 people own a tablet, you are only shooting yourself in the foot without mobile support.


algorithms strive to make sense of this content and to deliver the best, most relevant content to the searcher. It only makes sense that content continues to hold the throne.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION links”, also called “brand mentions”, and the ratio of how they are spread around the web. Brand mentions are words on another webpage which mention or reference your brand or company without the use of a hyperlink. A key takeaway from this is to make sure your links appear natural from a wide range of sources with high authority. Establishing your own brand authority is an important factor, which will contribute hugely to ranking. And, as explained above, if you are link building using your master keyword list as anchor text and the same URL for the hyperlink, be careful. Google will recognize the correlation as being tied to an SEO campaign and may penalize your site as a result. Mixing URL structure (i.e. vs. http://www. and keywords and phrases will allow your link building campaign to appear more natural.

and accessible from every device and multimedia platform, but it should also be optimized accordingly for each. Images and content need to be lighter on smaller devices, rather than simply scaling down and readjusting to the browser window. Google algorithms now also take user behavior like bounce-rate into account. If you deliver a bad userexperience because your site is not optimized properly, your ranking will be adversely affected.

4. CONTENT IS STILL KING Your website has to really deliver if you want to rank for relevant search terms. The days of taking advantages of loopholes and quick fixes are long gone. The web basically breaks down to simple content, and Google search

Because Google search algorithms are becoming pretty much the closest thing to artificial intelligence, it only makes sense that human signals will play a more important role on the future of SEO. If you don’t have a strong presence and strategy that allows for people to find and share your content, you’re doing it wrong! Social media is clearly not going away. Understanding your target market and delivering quality content is essential. Every time a major change happens with Google search, the question “is SEO dead?” always arises. In my opinion, it’s the strategy that dies and not SEO itself. As a marketer or web developer, it’s your responsibility to evolve and change your strategy on the fly. Thinking in terms of “optimizing” may be on the way out. Instead, thing of it as SEM (or Search Engine Marketing), or as just another branch off the marketing tree.

Reprinted with permission from SumAll,

3. MOBILE OPTIMIZATION AND USER BEHAVIOR While this isn’t a new trend, the decision for marketers to support mobile environments should not even be an option. When 1 OUT OF EVERY 5 PEOPLE in the world own a smartphone and 1 out of every 17 people own a tablet, you are only shooting yourself in the foot without mobile support. In 2014 and 2015, it’s clear that SEO campaigns will not only support mobile optimization strategy, but build on this strategy beyond simply having a responsive website. Not only should your site be readable

David Hanaford is a marketing technologist at SumAll. Front-end web development, SEO, UX, and graphic design are his specialties.




5 UI TRENDS TO LOOK FOR IN 2015 A great user experience (UX) is crucial to keeping your online visitors interested and engaged. More than ever, people are spending hours on the web browsing at work, gaming on-the-go during a commute and utilising online tools to increase efficiency on a personal level. The demand for an unparalleled user interface (UI) is becoming an industry standard for an unforgettable experience. A few of the upcoming trends to look for in 2015:

1. HTML5 VIDEO With production costs getting lower and the increasing upload of high-definition stock videography online, piecing together a short snippet of video is slowly taking the place of traditional copy on web and mobile interfaces. Continuous streaming of moving objects and people within a video brings about a whole new level of perceived interactivity, further captivating your audience. The video content is usually on autoplay, playback is on a continuous loop on the desktop view, and the material amplifies the message being brought to the audience. It is important that the length of the video does not run long and the size of the video is small so that it doesn’t take up the entire bandwidth of your site.


The introduction of flat UI design elements marks the beginning of the retina-resolution design era. Flat design has a modern, sleek and clean look. It is highly desirable for operating systems to use as a design format for decluttering and preventing websites from being


overwhelming. The increasing screen resolution quality in hardware across Apple or other manufacturers demands elements of minimalism, absence of depth and use of simple colors.


and animation in its scrolling property. This dynamism promotes user curiosity as the page moves at a different speed than the rest. If you have a story to tell, want to surprise your visitors, and show your product in 3D, adding parallax will give technical advancement to the static images and enhance audience engagement. A few points to consider carefully before embedding parallax in your code base: The parallax effect is animation-heavy so it may affect the speed of page load. Although content publishers are able to fit everything in a single page, users may grow frustrated as there may be excessive scrolling involved. The best solution to this would be to revisit user flow of content and decide how and what needs to be in parallax to create a fine balance, bringing out a comfortable user experience for everyone across all browsers.

5. FIXED NAVIGATION BARS The past two years have given rise to the popular single page website. This has called for fixed navigation bars to follow the user as he or she scrolls deeper to avoid getting lost within the website. They’re also named ‘sticky’ navigation bars, and users can easily access core functionalities within the content area and reduce the time involved with going through copious amounts of information. We are entering an age of cross platform and device usage. Responsive web applications require a phenomenal effort on UX research. Depending on the core functionalities of your website, you may need to rethink placements of components when screen real estate is shrunken to tablet or mobile sizes. A web application user interface generally maintains a common theme throughout your experience in dealing with responsiveness however, as screen real estate gets down to mobile devices, emphasis is placed on user navigation touch points. Meaning designers and developers should be optimizing the site quick enough to get a user from point A to B.

4. PARALLAX The parallax wows viewers with page depth, namely with background images moving slower than foreground images

Jaclyn Tsui A STEM field graduate from Imperial College London, Jaclyn has worked in the investment management field and the tech space with her last position as a Product Manager for a Techstars incubated company. She currently works in software engineering at Altitude Labs.

About Altitude Labs Altitude Labs is the first Silicon Valleystyled agile development agency in Asia, partnering with entrepreneurs and corporates to design and build complex and scalable products.



BITCOIN Gaining Traction In Hong Kong not only for payments but can now publicly list the company entirely on the blockchain as a low cost way to IPO (open source projects like Storj and Ethereum have done this raising millions).

Truly disruptive technologies happen rarely, perhaps once every decade and we are now in the next great transition with bitcoin doing for money what the internet did for information.

Currently we need to trust our money to a third party like a bank who charges us for storing and transacting with it, transactions can take days to clear, getting a loan can be a long and involved process, and our money is only really accessible between the hours of 9-5 Monday to Friday. Fees, inconvenience, inaccessibility: we don’t really think about this and continue with our daily lives, but bitcoin can solve these issues and place you back in control of your finances. Bitcoin is a decentralised, peer-topeer, transparent digital currency. This means that no single entity controls Bitcoin (the code is open for all to see), you can send money and pay for things anywhere in the world

instantly for free, and all transactions can be seen and accounted for in a shared ledger that is constantly kept up to date called the ‘blockchain’. Bitcoin can be thought of as being your own bank. In Hong Kong today, there are a number of startups and small businesses using bitcoin to reduce costs and reach new audiences like the Paperclip startup campus that has used bitcoin to pay for event tickets, Flower Delivery Hong Kong who use it as a method of payment, and Bitspark who provide merchant services and trading facilities for bitcoin. Bitcoin as a currency has many uses, but investigation is now turning to ‘bitcoin 2.0’ tech. The ‘blockchain’ can store data forever in a secure, auditable and decentralised ledger which makes it ideal for storing agreements, contracts or anything that exists on paper. In fact, in September of this year a couple from Florida, USA, had their marriage enshrined on the blockchain with others using the blockchain to exchange contracts for cars, legal documents and company shares. Entrepreneurs can use the blockchain

The ‘Internet of Things’ is a new buzzword describing how embedded sensors and computers interact with real world environments and transmit their information between each other and ultimately onto the internet. According to IBM , the blockchain is the most efficient, low-cost way for these devices to communicate without any centralised infrastructure (like a company maintaining its own large cloud network). What if your smartwatch contained an electronic key to unlock your door, or if garbage bins used real time monitoring to issue alerts to municipal services on when to empty them? All of this information is a ‘transaction’ or a piece of information in a ledgerideally suited to the blockchain. Hong Kong has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the next big IT boom in 2015 which will bring new jobs, knowledge and social inclusion. Undeniably, the free flow of information via the Internet has enriched the lives of millions around the globe, and Bitcoin is changing the way we think about money but also leaves the door open for future possibilities in our increasingly connected world, whatever they may be.

George Harrap is an

entrepreneur based in Hong Kong. A long time Bitcoin enthusiast and traveller, he is currently focusing on bringing finance to the ‘next billion’.



CHINA TRENDS FOR 2015 China is the world’s second largest economy, and now, with the world’s largest consumer market, it has become an imperative and distinct leader in the global market. With extensive growth rates driving China forward in previous decades, as high as 14.2% in 2007, it is now beginning to enter a new, more sustainable stage of growth. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has set its forecast for 2015 at 7% or lower, with the 2014 growth rate expected to be between 7.3 – 7.5%. This is still a phenomenal growth rate but a more controllable one. The source of growth within China is changing and many are wondering “have the players changed or the game itself”? The most accurate answer shall be “both.” Nowadays, the service industry has the leading share in percentage of GDP, which makes consumers the major driving force of growth. From consumer spending, the influence of social media, the slow but sure ‘green’ movement, the changing production industries, to the emergence of real Chinese brands, it is important to look at the trends for 2015 to understand the dynamics of the Chinese market.

1. CONSUMER SPENDING With the closing of the income gap between the rich and the poor there are a whole new segment of consumers ready to spend with disposable income. Disposable income allows for spending not just on the requirements of living, but anything additional the individual may demand. Consumer demand is a rising power within the growth of China as they insist upon more choice between sophisticated goods and services. It is important to note that many Chinese people are looking for increased image and status and the ability to showcase their purchasing power. Consumer groups or niches are developing and communicating through social media and demanding differentiated, high quality and environmentally conscious products to compliment these status requirements and personal opinions. China is seeing the end of low-cost standardization and quantity for differentiated high quality production. Consumer spending is what is driving the economy forward, and the demands of these consumers are going to shape the future of China. TRENDS

Purchases that will continue to rise are travel and education, both domestic and international, which directly contribute to the sophistication and status of the consumer. An educated population is essential to prosperity but also requires different needs to that of the less educated, hence the demand for improved products and services. Other purchases to increase with the rise of the middle-class will be in automotive and medical & beauty products, as presentation and style are important to a personal image. As more of the population raises from low level income positions, these factors will only increase and the power consumers have will also rise and drive growth. • • • • • • • •

Increased income + closing of income gap + more middle class Increased disposable income Demand for quality over quantity Looking for image and status Niche markets as opposed to standardized Increased travel and education Medical, beauty, cosmetics and personal care, etc. Automotive + international property purchases


2. ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA Online social media (OSM) is a huge influential force within China. depicts that there are at least 642 million internet users in China, with 91% of these users maintaining multiple social media accounts and 43% highly considering products and brands shared by friends. These numbers will only increase as more of the population gains internet access, which is happening at a steady rate. Social media facilitates consumers to showcase and share their status, opinions, experiences and purchasing power capability; by sharing they not only promote themselves but the products they use. This is the most powerful form of marketing known traditionally as word-of-mouth. Consumers are demanding more content, more of a story, more of

an experience, more of a learning process, not just accepting the product as it is but wanting to know how, why and in what way the product will benefit them. By developing this content, brands create sharable and engaging information that reflects the image they want to sell and thus increase the chance of success with OSM as a major distributing platform. The functions of OSM are adapting, which can be seen with a 350% increase in online-to-offline (O2O) purchasing this year alone. Examples include the use of QR codes and the range of apps for dating and taxi services with some only accepting mobile payment such as 20,000 Beijing taxis (, 2014). This integration of social media, technology and physical purchases is certain to continue and be innovative. Online Social Media will increasingly be majorly influential in determining purchasing attitudes and facilitating consumer spending demands. • •

• •

Demand for content, experience, knowledge, and status, etc. Increased utilisation of OSM as increased % of population gains internet access Information and data sharing slowly rising. Less concerned than West about privacy. Continued increase of influence on purchasing attitudes O2O

3. GO ‘GREENER’ The thought among many consumers worldwide is that Chinese brands and businesses lag behind when it comes to green thinking and that this might just be one of the last great competitive advantages ‘Western’ brands enjoy. This advantage is soon to end as Chinese consumers, not just the private sector but the government sector, are conscious for more of a guilt-free image when it comes to their actions with up to 81% of consumers willing to spend more for ‘green’ products (Kan, 2010). This is an increase in demand for sustainable, ethical, healthy, and environmentally-friendly products with unique content supporting this image. In addition, due to many previous food scandals such as the Yili baby powder that contained the dangerous Melamine and chemically-produced eggs for example, consumers want

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transparency. This includes factors such as where it was made, how it was made, what are the contents, pollution accountability and how will it affect the well-being of consumers and the environment. Food importation will continue to thrive, as there is now still a great distrust of locally-produced foods. This demand for a green economy is not just due to having a conscious image but a deep passion, with as high as 30% of Chinese consumers viewing the environment as more important than the economy, a percentage much higher than that of the US and Britain. There are already Chinese brands currently engaging in conscious activities, with a rise in recycling and green manufacturers such as one waste-to-product startup business model that recycles old jeans into carpet or another that reclaims the nutrients considered waste in used water then sells the nutrients and the cleaned water (Walshe, 2013). The adoption of sustainable processes will


be slower than the other trends, but businesses that are already pursuing it are being rewarded and appreciated by many Chinese people. • • • •

‘Guilt-free status,’ environmental, healthy, sustainable, ethical Demand for transparency Driven by both government and private sectors Food importation + food scandals high as 30% of Chinese consumers viewing the environment as more important than the economy, a percentage much higher than that of the US and Britain

4. PRODUCTION & INDUSTRY SOPHISTICATION Urbanization has seen massive changes to the production industry. These changes have decreased the supply of low-cost labour, which was abundant in previous years, due to the increased sophistication, opportunities, education and salary of workers and of the country as a whole. China is moving away from lowcost mass production for export and agriculture and into a service economy. This includes research, telecommunications, tourism, retail and luxury goods as the major contributors to GDP. Requirements such as safety, transparency, income levels and the low supply of menial labour give little incentive for low-end production, but an educated population provides an opportunity to become a leader in high-value technological research and production which is more profitable.

The world is soon to see China leading R&D in many industries. One prime example is that according to popular expert opinion China is likely to become the world’s centre for robotics, a title previously owned by Japan. Agricultural production will also decline do to urbanization and other factors such as the previously mentioned food scandals and will result in increased importation. The Chinese consumers want industries that can provide them with the sophisticated goods and services they demand, but also to supply the superior status they seek as proud Chinese within the world stage.

arena because they understand the dynamic markets, importance of social media and changing demands of consumers. They are different, with one major thing in common- they are the “end-product” of the changing China. China and the world are to see more and more such Chinese brands providing innovation, quality and real competition to their western counterparts.

It is no coincidence that these “China 2015 trends” are linked, as they are all pushing and pulling each other forward. A sophistication of the production industry, the demand for ‘greener’ products, and the unforgiving power of social media are all natural responses to increased consumer purchasing power, education, and a want to improve and share status and image. China now has the largest consumer market, and these consumers are the major drivers of growth and shapers of the economy. The result will be the emergence of real Chinese brands that will be ready to compete with established “western” companies on international arena.

• • • • •

Decreased supply of low-cost labour Demand for safety High value technology - Example: robotics Increased salaries Increased education Urbanization = move towards service industries

5. EMERGING CHINESE BRANDS With Chinese brands such as Alibaba, Xiao Mi and WeChat making their way to the international stage and providing real competition to their western counterparts, it is appropriate to say that we will see more Chinese brands with quality products and processes rise and grow in the world market. Considering what has been mentioned, this is the natural course for Chinese brands as they increase in popularity, increase in sophistication and quality, increase in understanding of market demands and look to make a larger presence. China is ready to build real brands, not just low-cost products for export. Xiao Mi is aiming to compete with Apple and Samsung, WeChat to Whatsapp and Viber, and Alibaba to eBay & Amazon. These brands have potential to succeed on international

• • • •

Linked to consumer spending Increasing number of popular Chinese brands China ready to built real brands, not cheap products Examples: Xiao Mi, WeChat

Ashley Galina Dudarenok studied business and economics in Russia, England, New Zealand, and mainland China. After five years in China as a PR manager for an international marketing firm, Ashley moved to Hong Kong in 2010 and started Alarice International (, a China market-entry consultancy.

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ESSENTIALS FOR CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS Jumpstart talks to three startups that have successfully navigated the choppy waters of crowdfunding to hit their targets and get the funding needed to launch their products into the market.

By Kimberley Hobson

1. CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORM CAREFULLY Today the crowd funding market place is indeed getting more crowded. With so many platforms to choose from, the right one for you will depend on your aims, target audience and sector. Whether Fundable, Bolstr, Crowdrise or Indiegogo, it pays to get to know each in detail before you commit. For Niwa, the established reputation of Kickstarter meant there was little competition. “85% of total crowd funding transactions on the web go through Kickstarter,” says Aga. “It also has the highest amount of pledges, for us

this made it really attractive over any of the other platforms”. Whilst Niwa was thinking global, Ezeecube selected the smaller, but mighty Indiegogo precisely for its local market appeal “We wanted people to know that we were based in Hong Kong and Indiegogo was the better option for this. In addition it didn’t require us to incorporate in the USA”. ZCan also chose Indiegogo for its local appeal, but mainly because speed was of the essence. “We went from planning to official launch of our campaign in just three weeks. Indiegogo worked for us because its approval time is shorter,” says Sam. Whatever platform you end up going with, be sure to do your homework and choose the one that’s the best fit for your products, resources, budget and time constraints.


2. BUILD A COMMUNITY IN ADVANCE Getting an army of supports to build momentum around your product is not a process for the faint hearted. Whilst it can be done on the cheap, it takes time, commitment and ongoing graft. One of the key things Niwa’s founders took away from their campaign was the importance of building this community well in advance of the launch. “As soon as possible identify your key industry influencers and connect with them – whether bloggers, journalists, or people with a big social influence,” says Aga. “Be active on social media, do guest blog posting. Startup events like pitching, conferences, appearances can also help you get leverage at the beginning”. Getting support from those with big networks can help create a great chain reaction, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook those closet to you who can be equally valuable. For Ezeecube, leveraging the support of friends and family was what helped them find their footing on the long climb to their target. “In the first week the biggest source of traffic for us was our close friends, family and professional network which helped us raise USD$12,000,” says Ashok. “This made the campaign look more trustworthy and helped bring in other backers”. Some great tools for engaging with your community recommended by our interviewees include Prefundia for getting bakers before you launch your campaign, MailChimp for email direct marketing and Quickmail for follow up and outreach. During your campaign, Sam advises not to let up on engaging with your community as it grows, even if your fund is approaching its target. “Be sure to keep the momentum throughout, and keep supporting your backers by keeping them in the loop with how things are going. Post ongoing updates and respond to any inquires or feedback within 24 hours – whatever the time zone! Let people know you care about their comments”.

3. CREATE A COMPELLING PITCH Whilst having a great product is essential for any campaign, the story you tell and how you present it are equally important. Sam says it’s imperative to be genuine and true to what you are trying to do in order to build trust. “The important thing is to show people who you are. Backers are just as interested in the person behind the scenes making the product as the products itself. Ensure you have good marketing collateral, a strong landing page and good content, including a great pitch video to give people a better idea of the real you.” One thing that’s been proven time and time again with successful campaigns is how you should never underestimate the importance of creating a good video.

However, making it doesn’t have to cost the earth. Like all good bootstrapping startups Ezeecube’s approach was to make something good, but to keep costs low. “Professional videos can cost between US$5,000 to US$15,000, we did it ourselves for less than US$1000. We got a freelance videographer to help edit and shoot and edited some bits ourselves in iMovie”. It’s been said that you only have four seconds to connect with the viewer of your video before they make a decision to stay or go; good editing, a good script and good direction can make all the difference. As well as the video, Niwa put a lot of energy into the campaign’s copy, particularly the tagline. “We spent weeks redoing it, thinking about our brand, our message and our target group,” says Aga. “We developed different marketing personas representing our potential customers. We wrote three potential taglines, and got feedback from our family and community before selecting the winner.” When thinking about your tagline, Aga advises thinking about your value proposition- what benefits are you providing? What’s your vision and bigger impact? What feelings do you want your brand to evoke? Considering each of these in turn can not only help you create a killer tagline, but also gain that all important trust and legitimacy.

4. PUT IN PLACE EFFECTIVE PR AND MARKETING You know your product is amazing, but the only way the rest of the world will find out is though effective marketing and PR. Each of our interviewees agreed that contacting journalists in advance of your launch was one of most important elements of a successful campaign. Although plugging your product to journalists can be a little intimidating if you’re unsure of how the media works, doing your homework on journalists already writing about related news or products, sending them a short and sweet personalised email and suggesting a few story angles helped each of our interviewees get into their target media. “It’s also a good idea to send some demo units to reporters for review in advance and

Some great tools for engaging with your community recommended by our interviewees include Prefundia for getting bakers before you launch your campaign, MailChimp for email direct marketing and Quickmail for follow up and outreach.





Aga, Founder and Business Development, Niwa A smart-phone controlled growing system Platform: Kickstarter I Target: $100,000 Amount Raised: $151,173 I Backers: 565

Ashok, Founder and System Architect, Ezeecube An automatically sorting stackable media box Platform: Indiegogo I Target: $75,000 Amount Raised: $146,666 I Backers: 1,137

Sam, Founder, ZCan Wireless The world’s first wireless scanner mouse Platform: Indiegogo I И Target: $30,000 Amount Raised: $112,868

ask them to align coverage with the campaign,” says Ashok. “In our PR we saw a spike in backers when we gained coverage on some big blogs like Engadget and Techcrunch and from there it got picked up on regional blogs. However, be sure to line up PR at least 6 weeks in advance to make it newsworthy. It’s very difficult to get coverage after your campaign is launched,” he says. Whilst contacting journalists ahead of time will help you reserve a spot in their editorial calendar, it pays to be strategic with how much effort you put in, as the payoffs may not always match the rewards. All of our interviewees agreed that it’s tough to get coverage once your campaign is launched. At the rate the media moves, even getting in touch just a few days after the start of your campaign may mean it’s considered ‘old news’. For Niwa, the initial launch period was the most intense and fruitful time in terms of PR. “In the first 24 hours we got over 40,000 visitors, after that it plateaued. To be honest after the initial momentum was gone it was very hard to keep it going. We saw spikes when big papers or magazines wrote about us and we got a few sales a day, but even though we were snowballing media, it was hard to keep the momentum going”. In terms of marketing, social media is a no-brainer and whilst each of our interviewees harnessed a range of social media platforms to different extents they did so in combination with other strategies. “Social media helps to create the buzz around the product, and it did bring initial traffic to us, but social media can wear out after a while,” says Ashok. “I’m not sure if social media alone can get you fully-funded depending on your campaign goal and it certainly doesn’t undermine the need to have good PR”. An area not to overlook in your PR strategy is the power of the various crowdfunding platform you’re promoting yourself on. For ZCan, Indiegogo itself was a major source of traffic. “Our tipping point came when Indiegogo sent an EDM about us. They were incredibly effective because they have such a big database”. Ezeecube also found similar success with the support of their crowdfunding platform, following being featured in the Indiegogo newsletter they raised US$20,000 in just three days.

All of our interviewees agreed that it’s tough to get coverage once your campaign is launched. At the rate the media moves, even getting in touch just a few days after the start of your campaign may mean it’s considered ‘old news’.

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João Seabra of Jump Willy By Sharon Maloney

I am excited. It’s not every day that you get to meet someone who makes cartoons digital art. When I tell my 6 year old son I’m meeting someone who does animation, he begs to be allowed to come along. My kid and I are big animation nerds and have watched every Pixar and Disney film and short going. We both know that I’ll be watching some cool stuff today and he wants in. This award-winning creative studio has been pioneering a ‘start-to-finish’ digital animation service including advertising, corporate videos, branded entertainment and animated TV series for illustrious clients like as BMW, Lexus, Proctor & Gamble, TED, Stella Artois, H&M, Sony Ericsson, Vodafone, and Universal Music.

On the day I meet João Seabra, co-founder of Jump Willy, the Umbrella Revolution has snarled traffic in town and I’m running late, first in mile long jams and then amidst the rabbit’s warren that is Cyberport. João arrives at the door with a slightly rumpled air of a man who sits at computers all day. He greets my apologies with a warm grin, a laid back “No problem!” and I’m ushered into a small office with a fantastic view. I can see immediately why they have chosen it. A floor-to-ceiling window looks out on lush, bamboo trees and a beautiful view of the sea and outlying islands. It’s a calm, quiet view, no doubt providing inspiration to the creative minds here.

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER Jump Willy was founded in Porto, in 2007 by João, a university professor of 3D animation, and Pedro Marques, a music composer. They met through working as free-lancers on various projects and sharing a mutual appreciation of each other’s art. A

JUMPSTART JUMPSTART chance encounter at Berlin airport a while later led to Pedro’s idea that they should start up a company offering a unique service to clients, since their respective areas usually fell within the same production timeline. Together, he reasoned, they would be able to offer competitive rates and “better, more integrated products to clients”. However, leaving the safety and stability of a secure, well-paid job is never easy. Both had full-time, lucrative careers and João initially expressed uncertainty at the change of direction his life was taking. “It was a very hard step to say that we are going to quit our very stable jobs, especially at our age. I think it’s a very common dilemma among startups.” João laughs when he recounts how he thought “it was a good dream. I thought, ‘One day’!” But he


We didn’t have a business plan, but now, eight years later I see that our business plan was very clear in our heads. We just didn’t call it a business plan.

reckoned without the single-minded determination of Pedro who sent him one email every day for a year, saying the same thing, “Have you quit your job yet?” After more than 300 emails and a whole year of badgering, João caved in and agreed to go for a coffee and talk about the next step.

Coming from an artistic background, neither of them had any financial experience. There wasn’t even a business plan initially. Nothing was written down and setting up the business was an organic process. They focused their energies on producing and delivering beautiful projects to clients, relying on word of mouth to help them grow. “We didn’t have a business plan, but now, eight years later I see that our business plan was very clear in our heads. We just didn’t call it a business plan. But we had goals. We had a real vision of where we wanted to be. We had a strategy. We had everything. Just not written on paper” he laughs. Their strategy was to move in together with another friend to save on rent, keep their jobs for a year, and work on their business every night and weekend. Being with someone almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week would have been the kiss of death for many partnerships. I ask if it was hard to live and work with his business partner. João smiles and says it was never an issue. Their synced vision as artists, combined with very different personalities, pushed them through the long hours of work. Pedro’s organised, methodical approach allowed him to focus on work from 9-6 and then switch off entirely, not thinking about work after hours. João says proximity to his work project was more difficult. “I found it harder to work where I lived. I had more problems dealing with that than work. I cannot switch off.” Despite the lack of a formal business plan, they were both financiallysavvy and disciplined. Having been raised in an environment of being only able to buy things that they could afford, they carried this lesson forward into their business. “The good thing is that we were both very educated about never having loans. We didn’t ask our parents for money.

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Our mentality was that we have some money, but we needed much more if we want to start something serious. Luckily that first year went really well. It was very tiring because we had full-time jobs, working nights and weekend. All the money we had coming in from the company, we would save it. After a year, we had our own investment.” This principle of financial independence is a matter of pride and one they hold to today, as they remain free from the ties of investors. From that point on, they were able to rent their first office and hire staff.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Initially the pair faced greater problems than mere exhaustion and saving money. Their first office was opened in their home city at the height of the European economic crisis. In a small, centralized country, launching a start-up from Porto, the second biggest city in Portugal, traditionally sounded a death knell to most fledgling companies. “It’s very rare you hear of successful businesses outside of the capital, especially our area which mainly targets advertising. All the main international agencies are based in Lisbon.” However, their determination in the quality of their work pushed them to achieve something remarkable and enduring. “We were also lucky that we had a good network when we started, in Europe. Most of our work was not in Portugal and that’s the way we were able to stay in the second biggest city, and not the capital, even though we were pressured a lot to move. As an internal country statement, we wanted to show the media, to everyone, that you can actually have a company there and still be successful.” They still have the original office in Porto and refuse to open in Lisbon. “Now we actually make our clients come the whole way, 300 kilometers to us,” he smiles.

The company’s strength undoubtedly comes from understanding and appreciating the individual assets and talents of each team member, which helped the company to grow rapidly in its first few years. This proved particularly important during the turbulent economic crisis when other companies fell by the wayside. INVESTMENTS What did the company then spend their hard-earned money on? They invested in people. “Good people”, as João emphasizes. As a university professor, João looked to his former students for artistic talent. “I wanted to hire my best, past students. I wanted to catch them before the competition.” The company’s strength undoubtedly comes from understanding and appreciating the individual assets and talents of each team member, which helped the company to grow rapidly in its first few years. This proved particularly important during the turbulent economic crisis when other companies fell by the wayside. By embracing a multitude of artistic disciplines, Jump Willy’s creative

team is able to conceptualize, develop and produce custom-made content in all forms of digital media to produce a high-end product and service for their clients. João’s pride in the company is clear to see. He shows me some projects they have produced for different clients and I’m very impressed with the unique quality of their animation which rivals anything I have seen on the big screen with my kid. There is a delightful whimsy to each video he shows me, in the characters that come to life in each story and in the music. João tells me each video is still created with a unique handmade approach, with every little detail given attention, before being translated to digital form.


WHAT’S IN A NAME? I am curious about how João and Pedro came to choose the company’s name and João tells me that an episode of The Simpsons is the inspiration.

LOOKING EAST The pair had a long list of “not very serious” names to choose from, because “we knew our work was being taken seriously.” They instead wanted to make a statement to show their company’s informal and playful nature. The decision for picking their company name came because by that time, it was the name that came up less often on Google searches and João and Pedro wanted to have SEO leverage. “We needed clients around the world to find us very easily on the web” he explains.

Jump Willy now have offices in LA and Hong Kong with 12 people overall. Hong Kong is both personal and professional choice for João . With other Asian powerhouses like Shanghai (where João’s father lives) and Singapore on the table, they were initially indecisive. João tells me that part of his childhood in the 80s was spent in Macau, where his sister now resides. The city’s familiarity is only one of the many reasons why he chose Hong Kong for Jump Willy’s Asian base.

This particular name comes from an old Simpsons’ episode, where Homer is watching the classic kids movie “Free Willy”. In the Simpsons version of the movie, Willy the Whale is trying to jump over the main character and kills it in the process. During all this Homer is shouting “Jump Willy, Jump Willy!” at the TV. And there it is. Willy the Whale kills a person while Homer cheers it on. I can’t stop laughing. There is nothing esoteric or Feng Shui about their approach. It is refreshing and lighthearted.

With Europe in state of ‘stagnation’ as João neatly puts it, their team being young and ambitious and China being the fastest growing market, the company felt that Asia was where they needed to be. When I ask João what advantages HK offers over other Asian cities, his reply is succinct. “The internet is pretty damn fast!” From his company’s point of view, this is a necessity in their field. It is also chiefly why they chose Cyberport as their hub. 3D animation depends on a secure, stable and ultimately fast connection

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to move massive amounts of data and means João can liaise with his team back in Porto “and it almost looks as if I am in the next room.” The city’s proximity to other Asian countries and its bureaucratic efficiency and organization rank high too. “I come from a country which is the opposite!” João speaks of Asia with great love. Every holiday in the last few years has been spent backpacking around different countries in the region. “I did everything from Mongolia to Cambodia! I knew I would fit in Asia. It’s a culture I admire. It’s the people I really admire, especially in Hong Kong. I love it that I can book meetings really close together and make them all. It’s like a clock.” When I ask if he’s had any difficult or bad experiences here, João says he’s still learning to decipher the nuances in faces and meaning here. He explains that in client meetings, people often seem really eager and say that they want to work together and that in Europe this means business has concluded and an agreement has been reached. Here, “sometimes you never hear from them again. They don’t like to say no to your face. Everything is ‘great’. In Europe, if they don’t like your work, your style, they tell you.” It is

unique style. We came here to bring something new.”

It’s the people I really admire, especially in Hong Kong. I love it that I can book meetings really close together and make them all.

perplexing for the outsider but he’s learning to adjust his expectations. He’s much more cautious about “jumping all in.”

KEEPING CREATIVE JUICES FLOWING “Some things distinguish our work. We are seen not just as a very good technical company, but everyone I have hired since the beginning is a creative person. The creative side is what distinguishes our work. Our reputation comes from our

To keep their creativity going, João says he spoils his team a lot. I ask if working with a creative team is like working with small children for the amount of ego involved and João laughs self-deprecatingly and agrees. They have a relaxed working style, allowing each person the respect and freedom to set their own routine, even if that means needing to play Playstation for an hour! Each summer, staff are given the freedom to work on a personal project to add to the company portfolio. This summer has been no different and João has been working on a labour of love, a paean to Hong Kong, which is soon to be released. Before I leave, I ask João if he could go back, would he change anything. His reply is philosophical. “I wouldn’t change anything. Even the things we failed at, we learned from, and did them again and did them much better the second time around.” Great advice for any company, big or small.









Now is a good time to start promoting your website. It always takes some time for search engines to find links to your site and “mark” your page as relevant. So start with writing a blog post about a product you want to feature, or a post that inspires people in a different way, like “Best Christmas Gifts Ever”. Start undertaking some keyword research, focusing on how people search on the web for “Christmas Gifts”. You are maybe in for a surprise on what keywords people use, for example, “Red Sweater” or “<BRANDNAME> Hong Kong”. Use those keywords in your blog post, to ensure that the search engines find them easily. You could also start with setting up an ad campaign for your store.

TELL A STORY Summer has passed and we’re a couple of months away from the holiday season kick-off. This means that you don’t have a lot of time to get your online shop up and running for the peak season. A three week preparation in early December is not sufficient enough to get ready in time for a serious quantity of shoppers. What can you do to make your online shop shine like a Christmas star? The answer…a lot! From quick wins and small adjustments to complete overhauls of the checkout procedure or order flow, it is worth the effort. In this article you will find loads of suggestions on how to maximize your holiday sales and stand out from the crowd. As a shop owner, Christmas preparation is the perfect time to take a fresh look at your online shop and ask yourself: am I ready? What can I do to serve my visitors better and answer their wishes and needs?

People love to buy into a ‘story’, a meaningful metaphor that they can give away, in addition to the gift itself. Exchanging gifts is all about reconnecting with loved ones and a gift can really help with that. There is a reason that big brands sell a story, such as one of my favorites: Watchmaker Patek Philippe’s ad campaign: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” But you can also simplify your narrative to create a compelling story about the origin of the product. What is the background of the designer or material used? Provide your customers with a story to tell when they show/give the product to others.


ASK FOR TESTIMONIALS AND PUT THEM ON YOUR SITE, AS PROMINENTLY AS POSSIBLE People like “the voice of others”, not just the ‘salesman’ voice. Ask current clients for a testimonial and place that on your site. It will also show that your site is active and that people are engaging with it on a regular basis.

MAKE SURE YOUR PRODUCTS ARE VISIBLE ON MOBILE DEVICES It is 2014! Yes, this year, mobile internet use overtook desktop, so more people use the Internet on a mobile device than on their PCs. Recent web traffic analytics for sites we manage show that mobile visits grew from 20% to over 60% in the last 30 days.

MAKE SURE ‘PUSH PRODUCTS’ HIGHLIGHTED Are your hero products visible on your homepage? Are they one click away from product details or ordering?

PROVIDE USERS WITH RELEVANT INFORMATION This includes price comparison, gift ideas, estimated shipping time etc. Most importantly, give them insight on your stock. Don’t waste their time by offering something that you don’t have in stock; it will give a negative feeling when you can’t deliver. This will add stress, especially during the chaotic holiday season.

BOOST SALES BY CLEARING A PAINLESS PATHWAY TO CHECKOUT Take note on your micro-interactions here. How easy and fluid is your checkout? Ask a stranger in a coffee shop to (fake) buy something on your laptop in your store and ask them to share their thoughts out loud, the feedback will be priceless. The check-out process needs to be flawless.





CONSIDER EARLY BIRD OFFERS Promote your early birds and give your clients a great shopping experience. If you make them feel special, I bet they will come back for more before the season is over.

FLASH SALES WITH THE RIGHT MARKETING AND NOTIFICATIONS OUTSTANDING OFFERS, LIKE GIFT MESSAGES OR FESTIVE PACKAGING PROVIDE TRACKING ON DELIVERY; IT HELPS BUILDING TRUST TO THE SERVICE The local Hong Kong startup AfterShip could help you with that. Time is everything for last minute orders. Provide an express option in checkout and shipping. Also, give clients the opportunity to take care of the whole packaging and labeling process online. You can really make your shop stand out in this area of service.

ANALYZE THE VISITORS’ DATA, How many visitors did you have? How many bought something? This can help you to see where you can optimize conversion.

GET READY FOR THE NEXT BIG EVENT Help your clients come back by making it easier for them to prepare new gifts for the same people, by providing gift history, recommendations and speedy checkout. So, there is a lot to do before, during and after the holiday season, and a lot that you can do yourself or that can be done with a little help from a web developer. For the bigger changes, don’t wait too long, because a web developer isn’t waiting with his hands crossed for you to come along and give him a project. He has his planning too, and the end of the year is often very busy for them. It will give you more revenue and a more secure feeling as you enter the holiday season. Don’t procrastinate; act now and have a great boost in your revenue!

JEFFREY BROER — Founder of Grayscale Ltd a HK based digital agency. As a Dutch entrepreneur, Jeffrey has launched a number of emerging and developing ventures, including a data recovery company, a computer component wholesale business and an IT consulting firm. Jeffrey also mentors up-and-coming startups. Jeffrey founded Grayscale 4 years ago to cater to businesses with user focused designed websites and Grayscale’s team is now 8 people strong. At present, he is also involved with developing Surround App, a mobile application that enables people who cannot read Chinese to engage with Chinese social media.







As a startup, it is very difficult to compete with big, established brands during the holidays. But as a startup in Hong Kong you are actually very lucky, because you can make the most of both traditional Chinese festivals such as mid-autumn and lunar New Year, and international commercial holidays such as Halloween, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, to name just a few. From a PR perspective these holiday seasons provide the ideal occasion to target a new set of customers and expand your market, so we wanted to share some top-level strategies and communications best practices for the festive season.

Don’t just promote your own company and goods on social media, but be timely and relevant by connecting your business to trending topics and themes. Ask yourself, how does your business solve holiday challenges? Does your ecommerce startup easily help people identify hot items for Halloween? Does your directory app help people find cool venues for Valentine’s Day? Does your bakery sell Christmas treats? If so, then share these solutions on social media, explaining common holiday hurdles and ways of overcoming them. Share relevant news stories, with a comment on how your business ties to that article. For example “Giant mooncake breaks world record” could be followed up with your own blog post about “our favorite Mid-Autumn stunts from around the world.”

#SEASON2BJOLLY Some say content is king. We say user engagement is supreme. Be creative and engage users with fun hashtags and consumer campaigns. Don’t worry if some of it is not entirely related to your business; make it funny or emotional and build your brand as humancentrically as possible. Ask yourself the question: what’s funny about the holidays? You’ll probably come up with ideas such as awkward family gatherings, stomach bursting meals, silly costumes, annoying songs and lame gifts. Leverage these themes, as humor goes a long way.


The holidays are great time to kick start a proactive PR strategy, so remember to be social, engage with your audience and show off your startup’s expertise.

#Pumpkinated: You could ask your Facebook/Instagram followers to share photos of their ‘most embarrassing Halloween costumes’ with a catchy hashtag and award the best photo each week with a discount or prize. #FightingFit: If your startup is healthrelated, tweet some tips for losing the extra holiday weight and ask users to contribute their own advice, using the hashtag. #KaraokeCarolFail: Leverage Vine, and ask social media followers to post clips of themselves singing Christmas carols. Edit a compilation of the best 10 to share on Christmas day, with contributions from your team as well. #KungHeiFatChoi: For a more emotional response, share a video of your Hong Kong team reuniting with friends and family during a Chinese New Year gathering.

• Be visual! Prepare an infographic about user / shopping trends related to your business around the holiday season, such as: “most popular product sold on Halloween” or “most used app feature during Chinese New Year.” Journalists and bloggers enjoy sharing interesting infographics. • What is your startup’s view on industry trends during the holidays? Pitch these thoughts to the media well in advance in order to secure space in their editorial calendars and push for interviews with your startup’s founder/CEO to give your brand a human face. • In these media interviews and pitches, share anecdotes about the holidays, including challenges and difficulties. Journalists enjoy a story which shows how you overcame obstacles in your path.

THOMAS GLUCKSMANN-SMITH Thomas works at The Hoffman Agency, where he helps brands from the tech and online space engage with audiences across multiple digital channels. The Hoffman Agency ( is an independent PR agency that helps companies in markets of technical complexity communicate compelling messages across the world. Since coming to Hong Kong in 2000, The Hoffman Agency’s Hong Kong office has been working closely with global tech companies, local startups and major Asian brands across a variety of sectors.

IN SHORT YOUR VIEW Think you know your industry well? Prove it. The media loves showcasing stats and unique insights, so go get famous by showing off your smarts.

The holidays are great time to kick start a proactive PR strategy, so remember to be social, engage with your audience and show off your startup’s expertise. Oh, and don’t forget to wish your customers and followers happy holidays!




JUMPSTART’s never too late to offer incentives, such as an “exclusive” discount, a special giveaway or a complimentary service to help ease the stress of the holiday season.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND If you have a product that you sell to customers, then one thing you should really check in advance of the holiday season is what your suppliers are doing and not doing for the holiday season. Will they have shipping on days that they normally don’t? Will they stop shipping from a set date? Will they guarantee shipping for Christmas day or other days? All of this will help you determine what your policy will be for your customers. You should also make sure to allow extra time in case things to go wrong, and also be aware of the amount of extra items that will be going through the postal system, many of which will not be labeled correctly and can cause extra backlogs. This also helps you to make sure that you will have enough inventory for a potentially busy holiday season.



The holiday season is an exciting time for small businesses. Most see it as a time to make quick and easy money, but what many fail to appreciate is that there is a lot of preparation required in order to make the holiday season a success, both for business and customers.

The holiday season is a great time for hackers to steal information from holiday shoppers. The other thing hackers might do is post links to other undesirable websites by placing links on yours, causing Google to block or remove your site. Keep a close eye on back links and comments. With the high volume of transactions that might happen over the period, you could be less likely to notice extra transactions or wrong totals. If you have a brick and mortar store you also need to be on the lookout for in store thieves. Be on high alert for DoS attacks, and make sure that your site has upto-date security on all transactions by making sure you have SSL certification. Back up your information! Everything from your phone to your laptop to your company’s servers should always have regular backups. You should even think about a service where you store information in the cloud. As someone who works online, I have a backup service that works between my phone, my laptop and the cloud, to ensure that I always have access to important documents. This system also saved me a lot of time


when I had to reinstall my laptop 4 times in 3 days. I was still able to work because I was able to access important documents from any computer. Although you might be out of the office, your customers do not need to know this. There are some websites that actually shut down and have an out of office/happy holiday’s page up on their site. A lot of people use the holidays as a time to catch up on things. However, it’s important to remember that nothing is more likely to turn a potential customer away than a “closed” website.

NOT HAVING A MARKETING PLAN FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON I have bad news for you. By the time you start reading this you should already be half way into your marketing plan for the holiday season. This is all about knowing your clients and when they are most likely to make purchases. You should already have been drip marketing your clients for

the past couple of months, because we all know that most sale cycles take anything from 6 - 18 months. If you do a quick marketing plan and don’t think it through or miss some parts out, it will do more damage than good for the reputation of your company. However, it’s never too late to offer incentives, such as an “exclusive” discount, a special giveaway or a complimentary service to help ease the stress of the holiday season.

NOT TAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF For a small business owner, the holiday season not only means that you will be busier than normal dealing with the holiday rush, but you will also be burning the candle at both ends by trying to attend all the networking parties that will be going on at that time of year. Do not feel like you have to go to every event and be the life of the party. You have probably met most of the people before or will again at a better time when their companies are

Pilots Starting a Christmas Tree Business by Roland Janisiw of Last year Sven Schütz approached me with the idea of launching our own tree business in HK. The inspiration stemmed from one particular reason. We both had fond memories of the Christmases in our childhoods. The festive Christmas environment, including a freshly cut tree was what made us feel happy and excited for Santa Claus’ arrival. Furthermore, Sven’s recent Christmas tree experience in HK wasn’t satisfying at all, so the idea was born! We wanted to provide outstanding customer service, high quality and reasonable prices, whilst also providing the simplest way to get a real tree. Therefore, we decided to only select the highest quality, grade A trees throughout the industry and carefully

import them to Hong Kong (not just average trees which are easily available in the region). Our German/Austrian culture has defined our philosophy in terms of offering the highest quality and standards in all our operations. We believe that by promoting this philosophy we will achieve customer satisfaction by providing the most convenient way to order quality trees. After registering our Company, setting up our bank accounts and completing the main structure of our business (the homepage), we soon realized that the warehouse/delivery logistics and necessary paperwork would be the most complex issue in this project. Fortunately, we started in early February to gather ideas on how

actually looking to buy and have not shut down for the holiday season. The New Year will be lousy if you have not prepared well enough to work at it full throttle.

JANICE CHAKA Janice is an accomplished entrepreneur as well as an experienced HR professional from the UK with over 8 years of international experience with companies such as MGM and HP. She provides HR expertise to companies that range in size from small start-ups to multinational conglomerates. She is active in startup communities worldwide, giving workshops and keynote speeches which ties in with her love of travel.

to reach our goals and deadlines. Both of us still work (we’re both professional pilots) and the only way to succeed was by splitting up the work and setting strict deadlines. This method helped us to complete all the research and submit orders with our suppliers for the trees, in addition to manufacturing ‘stands’ for them. The language barrier was the most demanding part in finding and setting up a suitable warehouse for our delicate trees. At this stage we are importing the trees via Cargo Ship in Reefer Containers to keep them fresh. Therefore, the timing is crucial and there will be a very short gap between the arrival of the freight and the point at which our delivery team will take over. To spread the word, we are using social media - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The feedback is great so far and now that we are getting closer to the festive season, we will be even more present on those platforms.




Holiday Team-Building Ideas for Your Startup It’s often said that a company is only as good as the people in it. Without cohesion, even the most innovative entrepreneurs can find that they aren’t fulfilling their potential. Teambuilding activities are a great way to bring your outfit together and break the ice, meaning that all those bright ideas don’t go unheard. Here are nine ideas to bring your group together with some novel teambuilding exercises in Hong Kong.

TRAMPOLINING Why not ring in the ‘work hard, play hard’ motto by taking your team to one of the city’s latest attractions at Ryze Ultimate Trampoline Park? Here you will find everything that is trampolining: from slack-lining to dodgeball. With over 7,000 square feet of inter-connected trampolines, Ryze is sure to help your start-up get off the ground. This arena has already made a name for itself by word of mouth alone, and is world’s away from your average in-office gathering.



For a more traditional approach to team sports, look no further than Thunderbowl in Hung Hom. One of Hong Kong’s few remaining traditional bowling alleys, this triedand-tested sport is easily accessible, even for those with two left feet when it comes to sport. What’s more, their dual-lane VIP suite is the perfect opportunity to introduce some gentle competition into your budding enterprise.

A rather left-of-center option is the home-grown FreeingHK. Much like many game shows that you may recall from the early 90’s, the task sounds simple enough: escape the room. You’ll have a series of challenges and clues, with intricately designed scenarios to encourage the actionmovie star in us all. FreeingHK has long catered for corporate events and with many locations dotted around Hong Kong, the “mission impossible” element becomes quite accessible.

ROCK CLIMBING If you fancy putting your body to the test, why not try rock climbing? The Da Verm gym in Sai Ying Pun offers a variety of climbing walls, accommodating experts and fledgling climbers alike, with guides on hand to ensure that health and safety aren’t an issue. They even have a range of outdoor options on the island, which is great if you happen to find that your team are particularly adept and want to up the ante.

PUB QUIZ On a more relaxed note, a Pub Quiz is a good way to allow a casual ambiance to soften the edges of a corporate occasion. Learn the true meaning of synergy in a stress-free atmosphere, particularly useful for expats who might yearn for the occasional twang of western culture. QuizNuts organize events most Monday nights via




If you’d rather a more eastern approach to an evening of group socializing, Karaoke has become an Asian staple. Be it garbled attempts to rap alongside the laughable music videos or discovering the next Adele among your teammates, karaoke rarely disappoints. It can be hard to choose from the plethora of venues, but Music Box offers attractive private rooms for a very affordable price in Causeway Bay.

For a more intimate setting, try some sensory deprivation with Dialogue in the Dark. Stepping into an area of total darkness, you’ll depend on the voices of your team and you’ll need to cooperate in order to succeed in this new-age approach to breaking the ice. Instructed by guides who have visual impairments themselves, this is a unique opportunity to learn more about yourself and your start-up.

ART JAMMING Art-Jamming has become a fun and creative way for groups to explore their individuality and express themselves artistically. ART JAM HK provide easels, paints and tools in either of their two centers, with the aim of realizing the creativity or your group and breaking down barriers ‘in record time’. Working under a shared theme, you will be free to paint how you feel, with the result being a patchwork of experiences and ideas, showing the personality of your team.

space in Kwun Tong offer large venues with audio-visual options to kick-start your professional occasion. Planning your own event or cooperating with other start-ups can also be a lucrative venture for your upcoming company. . Whatever the angle of your start-up, team-building activities are essential for bonding, finding out what motivates you and learning the characteristics of your business. The most important part of teamwork is communication and these events can really help to put your team on the same page.

PLANNED ACTIVITIES Team Building Asia have many teambuilding exercises with a focus on CSR. From bike building to community circuses, their array of event options cater for good publicity and responsible enterprise.

FOR SOLOPRENEURS Joining a networking event is an obvious choice for Solopreneurs, but an alternative is to host your own. Affordable work-spaces such as 8080

WIN A HOLIDAY GIFT FOR YOUR TEAM Post pictures of your team-building holiday activity to our Facebook page by December 31 for the chance to win a surprise holiday gift from Jumpstart!

ADRIAN O’SULLIVAN Freelance Journalist and Copywriter with a passion for music and travel





ENTREPRENEURS This coffee table book, produced by a Hong Kong based photographer, is a thoughtful gift for the visually and philosophically inclined. All proceeds benefit Hagar International, an NGO restoring the lives of victims of human

Everyone in HK would agree that an umbrella carries a lot of meaning this year, and a handmade umbrella (or a repaired umbrella) by one of the last remaining umbrella makers in Hong Kong, 91-year old Mr. Ho, would carry great sentimental value as a holiday gift.

rights abuse.

Allison Baum, Managing Director, Fresco Capital

Ella Wong, Account Executive,

When in Asia ... buy in bulk straight from distributors. Look for “Shenzhen DoBetter Technology Co” on Alibaba. Minimum order, 10 pieces

Kalina King, Director @ General Assembly Asia Tailor made shoes from Zee’s Leather Co. Most HK residents have had clothes tailored but it’s a special treat to craft your own shoes surprise someone with the chance to customize a pair from scratch!

Charlie Melvoin, Project Leader at Blueprint by Swire Properties

I really support local entrepreneurs hand making high-quality food products. We need more of these!

Erica Ma, Community Advisor, CoCoon

JUMPSTART It’s made in HK. It’s bespoke and meaningful and no-one can resist wearing it everyday. Ada Yip, i2i Program Director, Sow Asia

I am picking June by Neatatmo, because of its functionality and looks. It is a super chic piece of urban jewelry that measures your sun exposure and helps you to avoid nasty sunburns. Definitely a must-have & must-wear in dealing with Hong Kong’s sun.

Marta Dowejko, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Entrepreneurship, CUHK The QBracelet for him and her, because it’s not only made with style but it is useful! Especially for someone like me always on the run and out of battery. Karen Farzam, Co-Founder W Hub

I’ve never been much of a morning person and I’m a chronic snoozer, so I figured the new year is a great time to finally conquer my chronic bad sleep. Sense is a smart alarm that tracks your sleep and wakes you up refreshed.

Andrew H. Chen, Founder & CEO of Menuscript Limited and Director of Dear Agents

I have quite a few introverted friends who love to travel, but it’s so painful to squeeze stories out of them - this Taiwanese startup ( has solved that problem. They have two products: a journal and card game embedded with quirky challenges that help travellers discover a deeper understanding of their destinations.

Jah Ying Chung, Air Marshal @




Art Entrepreneur By Teg Malla

TKM Limited specializes in Himalayan Art from Nepal and Tibet. Established in 2012, our core value is to grow a sustainable business to support our communities. To that end, we have pledged to donate a percentage our profits to our partner charity, Lotus Art ASBL, a non-profit dedicated to helping to renovate a school in Western Nepal and promote Nepali and Tibetan Arts and Culture. We also provide art consultancy as well as artworks for auction items, organise exhibitions, events and private sales.

WHY HIMALAYAN ART? In 2001, during my trip to Nepal, I came across many beautiful art works by Nepalese and Tibetan artists. I was impressed by the quality which led me to spend a few months researching, and talking with the artists and galleries. At the same time, I also got involved in a school in Nepal and wanted to help them. I started by purchasing a few paintings with the idea that upon my return to Europe, I would promote and sell them and donate the profit to help the school. This was nearly 14 years ago, and I have continued to promote and sell Himalayan art in HK for the past 3+ years. I personally source my artwork and sometimes it takes me up to few weeks to find a piece. My philosophy in buying art is that, first and foremost, you have to like what you are buying. I have been fortunate to find some rare and beautiful pieces, which makes it very difficult for me to part with them. I have noticed that in the last 10 years Himalayan art has appreciated in value due to its popularity in Europe and America.

ART SCENE IN HONG KONG It has to be said that HKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art scene is definitely growing bigger and better all the time, especially with numerous art fairs, events and exhibitions taking place year-round. There are also many international galleries opening up here and with China being so close, Chinese art is definitely booming. Having said this, entrepreneurs breaking into this field will face many challenges. Primarily, the rent is exorbitant and recently there has been a trend for those on Hollywood Road relocating to Aberdeen. The art market is extremely competitive and Himalayan art is relatively new and unknown in Hong Kong. We need education and promotion to bring this art form into the mainstream. Due to these constraints, we have come up with other solutions to reach our target market. Our artwork is sold via art exhibitions, private events and viewings. We have also partnered with residential and commercial interior designers as well as offering our artwork as auction items for private and corporate events, fundraising and charity events, etc. This December, TKM Limited is organising a Himalayan Art Exhibition which is being supported by the Consulate General of Nepal in HK. Come support this initiative and learn about Nepalese and Tibetan art.

For further information / RSVP, contact





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ACTIVITIES CONTACT US No. 5, 11/F Arion Commercial Centre 2-12 Queenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Road West Sheung Wan Monday - Thursday 9:30am to 3:30pm T (852) 2527-2961 F (852) 2865-7737 E W

A community of adventurous international women connecting and contributing to Hong Kong every day





Charlene Kotwall of The Mustard Seed Workshop Limited Our business was often misunderstood and not taken seriously, especially by some of my peers, so I had to take extra initiative to reach out to mentors since the beginning (and even before inception) to seek support for building my business. Building the network around me has proved to be crucial in accelerating the development of the business. To date, I have mentors for business strategy, finance, luxury branding, legal and global strategy.


TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY Established in April 2011, TMSW is a brand built from gifts made by members of disadvantaged communities around the world. We design, produce and distribute a wide assortment of products with three product collections: fine jewellery, lifestyle accessories and gourmet food items. We provide gainful employment opportunities for members of disadvantaged communities, in order to help them to be financially independent and have a sustainable livelihood. We also provide marketing services, including labelling, branding, packaging, and distribution channels to expand the reach of these socially responsible products.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR? The nature of our business and our identity proved to be the biggest challenge. One of the prime difficulties was how novel the concept of social enterprise was when we started. When I first launched this business, it was quite a foreign idea for most people in HK to set up a for-profit business that aims to solve poverty and social injustice issues. It is still a new concept now, but there are a lot more social enterprises today in comparison to the time I started developing the idea. I didn’t have many supportive voices. I often call myself a “triple whammy”: a female, an entrepreneur and an individual with a social objective.

For the past two years, we released three sets of gourmet hampers (small, medium and large sizes) during the Christmas season. All of the food items are made by our empower members of disadvantaged communities. These include chocolates that empower rural areas in Ghana, premium tea that empower rural farmers in Shaaxi Province, cookies that empower individuals who suffer from mental disabilities and wine from South Africa that pays vine farmers fair and competitive wages. This year is no exception. We will continue with our Christmas hampers, as we have had great response in the past from corporations and holiday shoppers alike. We will keep you posted on our latest promotion materials.


TELL US ABOUT A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE RUNNING TMSW The most memorable experience for me was when we secured our first corporate clients in Hong Kong and Singapore. As a social business, I didn’t envision having corporate clients and vendors. But, by the end of our first year, we secured our first global 5 star hotel brand in Macau, followed by their Hong Kong and Singaporean counterparts the following year. Our corporate client base grew quite rapidly over the next 2 years and it has been an exciting journey so far. I have four mentors in the following key areas: Global Strategy, Retail and Luxury Branding, Legal and VC/PE background. They have helped us over the last three and a half years. One mentor in particular has been with me even before the inception of the business. He believed in me when no one else did and encouraged me when everyone else said that I should walk away. My mentors are part of my family now. We have a great relationship and I can update them and call them anytime to grab a coffee and to get advice and guidance when needed.


Mentors are your secret weapon – I cannot stress enough how important mentors are for an entrepreneur’s growth. They help uncover blind spots and areas of weakness. Take the time to put together a small pool of ‘grey haired mentors‘, people that you can trust and have good chemistry with. It is best to have mentors in different aspects of your business, for example, PR, business strategy, legal, etc.

Stay hungry to learn and stay humble – It‘s easy to develop an inflated ego, which makes it hard to receive criticism on your business. It is vital that you keep your cool, especially when dealing with difficult situations. It’s also important to recognize that some people may not agree with you!

Make time for loved ones – Don’t forget what is the most important in life when chasing your dreams. Family and loved ones should always come first, no matter how busy your schedule is as an entrepreneur. Make time and schedule them in your diary. Invest time into your relationships.

Pay it forward today - Pay forward your blessings, time, contacts, experience and knowledge and what others have given you. Don’t be afraid that others will succeed more than you or that you may be taken advantage of. There is a larger power in knowledge sharing, collaboration and giving away what you have, than in hoarding what you have to yourself.




Anthony Lance of PhatRice TELL US ABOUT YOUR COMPANY PhatRice aims to create a retail revolution by driving transparency for consumers around social and environmental product initiatives, through the power of an engaging online retail platform. Asia is the new frontier for product developers whose business model aims to create life-changing impact for local communities. This can be anything from rescuing human traffic victims from prostitution rings in China through jewelry making, to selling stylish shoes that provide 15

meals per pair sold for children in Mongolia, allowing them to stay in school. There are already hundreds of powerful initiatives throughout Asia, however, up until recently, it has been nearly impossible for these smallto-medium size developers to reach inspired consumers around the world. PhatRice brings these passionate like-minded people together on a highly engaging platform, creating a community that grows and thrives. By telling their stories and selling their products, PhatRice will be the pioneer for enabling social and environmental initiatives, which will

Asia is the new frontier for product developers whose business model aims to create lifechanging impact for local communities.

be integrated directly into business models. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re aiming to encourage a community of advocates who influence retailers in Asian markets to change their business practices and to incorporate products that are responsible, and make a real positive difference for those who are looking for a second chance on life.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE ON YOUR TEAM? There are eight people on the team at the moment, most working part-time.




WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR? Hong Kong is a great place to start a company. However, in terms of online retail, HK is actually not very advanced, so we had a hard time finding the talent locally that we needed to build and develop the kind of interactive dynamic platform that we wanted PhatRice to be.

HOW ARE YOU PROMOTING YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE/AND OFFLINE? PhatRice tries to have a strong balance of online activity and real-life events. We run a new online feature every single week, introducing a new set of products, which goes out through all of our online channels. We also host our own events, where we create a live marketplace for our product partners, as well as organize dynamic workshops and conversations around social and environmental initiatives. In addition, we are heavily involved with various other events like TED talks, The Social Justice Conference and many others. Our goal is to create as much synergy with other organizations and individuals as possible so that our product partners finally get the chance to tell their incredible stories to the world!

HOW ARE YOU GETTING READY FOR HOLIDAY SALES SEASON THIS YEAR? There are a number of important things coming up for us. The first is Movember, which is an amazing

initiative to help raise awareness and funds for men’s prostate cancer around the world. We plan to develop unique products specifically designed to help individuals get involved and make a difference in the month of November! Immediately after comes Christmas, which, of course, is a time of gift-giving. We will prepare for the season by putting together items, packages and features that better suit the gift-giving time of year. PhatRice items are AWESOME gifts because not only are the items really great quality, they also have an incredible story behind each item, which makes giving them as gifts even more meaningful!

TELL US ABOUT A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE RUNNING PHATRICE Before the platform even went online I was invited to speak along with some other entrepreneurs at a HKU MBA class. I had to leave immediately after my talk, but when I said thanks and headed for the door, one of the other entrepreneurs sprinted in high-heels across the classroom and beat me to the door to pass me her business card. Obviously, I was really surprised and the students were quite amused too! The individual told me in a few seconds that they are starting a new socially responsible line of baby clothing in Hong Kong and wanted to be featured on our site. As I walked out of the building, I thought that we must be on to a good idea here because people are chasing us to be featured and we don’t even have a website yet!

WERE YOU ENTREPRENEURIAL GROWING UP? I started a company when I was 14 years old, providing lawn care service to homeowners in my neighborhood back in Oklahoma. Over five summers I established over 50 steady customers and eventually sold the business to a friend when I left for University.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE STARTING A BUSINESS? A lot of people tell you to “go for it” or to just take a risk in order to be entrepreneurial. In contrast, our founding team spent over a year doing market research, organizing small events, securing outstanding advisors and developing product partners, well before we actually started building the site. We needed to prove that the model would work before we could raise the investment that we needed. Certainly there is no replacement for acting quickly, but it also takes a lot of patience and humility for someone to become a truly successful business leader.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED Loving Kids Community Service Center, a non-profit located at Sham Shui Po, is looking for volunteers. If you teach an instrument, English or can help out with charity activities, please contact Ms. Florence Lee at 21173675






Peter Mok,

Head of Incubation Programme at Hong Kong Science and Technology Park 1. TELL US ABOUT THE HKSTP INCUBATION PROGRAM Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) is dedicated to advancing technological innovation and growth in Hong Kong by providing state-of-the-art infrastructure and services. Within the vibrant ecosystem of Science Park, there is a mix of large scale MNCs, local SMEs and start-ups, all of whom can learn from each other and strike exciting partnerships to grow their business.

We offer full-service Incubation Programmes and a Leading Enterprises Acceleration Programme (LEAP) to assist startups in their vulnerable inception stages. We have groomed over 300 companies over the past few years and there are currently 150 companies in the incubation programme. 

training and talent development, a mentoring programme, consultancy services, investment matching events to connect angel investors and venture capitalists, subsidised R&D fitted office space and financial aid packages to facilitate research and development. More information is available at incubation



Our incubation programmes include the 1.5-year Incu-App Programme (for web/ mobile application startups), 3-year Incu-Tech Programme (for general technology startups) and 4-year Incu-Bio Programme (for biotechnology startups). These programmes incorporate industryfocused support services that address the needs of new companies during key stages of development. These include marketing and promotions,

LEAP is the follow-on programme to the Corporation’s Incubation Programmes. It targets high potential ‘incubatees’/graduates, with an aim to foster them into regional and global companies. This is achieved by providing more in-depth assistance, with a specific focus on corporate structuring, business development and financing.


2. WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS LIKE? In general, the admission process of the Incubation Programmes takes around two months. Companies who are interested in applying for the Incubation Programmes should fill out the application form (available for download at and submit it with their business plan and CVs of their management teams. Standard assessment procedures include:
 1. Applicants to submit full application by email or post 
 2. Applicants attend a casual interview
 3. Application is evaluated by technical advisors 
 4. Applicants to present their proposals at the Admission Panel Meeting
 5. Applicants will be informed of their application results



We have groomed over 300 companies over the past few years and there are currently 150 companies in the incubation programme. 

3. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN AN APPLICANT? 1. Quality and competency of the management team
 2. Sound business plan and depth of innovation 
 3. R&D content 

IT & Telecommunications and Electronics top the rating. We are seeing more and more applications from the green technology and biotechnology sectors.

 Application quality is usually very high. Applicants should be aware that they need to demonstrate the company’s capability in the following areas:
 1. Clear roadmap of their product development and commercialization 2. Technical and R&D content 3. Feasible and solid business plan
 4. Clear corporate structure with shareholder information
 5. Full application documentation with all required information, e.g. accurate date of company establishment, proof of full-time staff members



 Applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, such as university graduates, professors from the academic sector and industry veterans with rich experience in the technology sector. Amongst the current 150 incubatees, about 20% of them are from overseas. This covers many countries including Israel, Austria, France, Italy, and China. We also see some tech talents who are working in the partner companies within the Science Park and who are beginning to expand their horizons and start their own businesses. For example, Joe Wong, who worked at Sengital, wanted to test his innovation and realise his entrepreneurial dream. As a result, he went on to start Medisen, a company that focuses on developing multi-media solutions addressing the needs of elderly dementia sufferers.

He received a Gold Award at this year’s Geneva Innovation Award. His boss at Sengital, Alan Lam, was so supportive of his move that he also invested in Medisen to help kick-start the business.

 Once the company is admitted to our Incubation Programmes, they will enjoy a wide range of technical and service support. First of all, a dedicated Account Manager will be assigned to each company (incubatee). The Account Manager will assist the incubatees in their development throughout the incubation period, providing all-rounded support and coaching services. 
 Support that the incubatees will receive includes: subsidised R&D office, various training on business

planning, people management, marketing etc, and a number of networking and business matching sessions to facilitate their development. For major product launches, they will also be able to seek the advice and support from the publicity team to help prepare press releases, pitch for media interviews and conduct press launches. The incubatees will also have access to 12 shared laboratory facilities and common meeting rooms. We will also conduct a milestone review with them every six months to better understand their progress of R&D and business development. In general, the incubatees will be developing their business successfully and they’ll enjoy plenty of support to help them overcome challenges or difficulties. Whatever the problem, our team will be there to offer them assistance. Their success is our success. 


8. HOW DO YOU SUPPORT INCUBATEES? We support our incubatees in many ways. Some of these include: subsidised R&D-fitted office space and financial aid packages to facilitate their research and development, technical training and talent development, a mentoring programme, business plan consultancy services and investment matching events to connect them with angel investors and venture capitalists, and also marketing and promotions to help speed up commercialisation of their innovative products and services.
 For example, we recently organised a business matching event for the various industries including electronics, toys, food & beverage catering, etc. We will be connecting technology companies



with different expertise in the Park, and with industry leaders, in order to foster business collaboration. Incubatees can also benefit from the advanced laboratories and test centres, backed up by a team of professional engineers to support their research and development in the five focused technology areas: Electronics, Information Technology and Telecommunications, Precision Engineering, Biotechnology and Green Technology.


young start-ups. Story of Appotech: AppoTech is a fantastic semiconductor company which focuses on developing highperformance, high-reliability, costeffective system-on-chip (SoC) silicon solutions. Founded by Mr Chuck Cheng, a seasoned entrepreneur who returned to Hong Kong from Silicon Valley in 2003 during the SARS outbreak, AppoTech has been one of the high flyers in the Incubation Programme and nowadays has an annual turnover of more than HK$800 million. 
You can find other success stories on our website.

Our incubatees are our heroes. We want more people to hear about their stories, and to hear their firsthand accounts of how we support






INNO DESIGN TECH EXPO (4-6 December 2014)

Highlights Include New Start-Ups Zone, International Living Designs and Global Invention Force Inaugurated in 2005, the HKTDC Inno Design Tech Expo (IDT Expo) has come to its 10th anniversary this year, which opens its door for global visitors from 4-6 December in Hong Kong. Co-organised with Hong Kong Design Centre and Hong Kong Science & Technology Park, the Expo has become the region’s major event on creativity and innovation. The Expo will feature over 400 international exhibitors and attended by 36,000 trade buyers and public visits. With exhibiting creative and technology professionals sharing a full spectrum of design services and tech solutions, local and regional brand owners, retail outlets, multi-national enterprises, SME owners, manufacturers and investors looking for business partnership, investment opportunities and innovative business solutions will be busy networking during the three-day event.




New inventions will be the talk of the town in December. For the first time ever, IDT Expo will gather innovative ideas from over 80 inventors from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Qatar, Serbia, Spain and Taiwan etc., and exhibit inventions ranging from small gadgets to high-tech patented solutions. Together with top-notch R&D works from both local and overseas tertiary institutions, as well as the latest projects presented by Hong Kong innovation heroes, the Expo will be an ideal marketplace to bridge brilliant ideas to resources.

In order to assist Hong Kong technology and creative startups to expand their networks and nurture their growth, a “Start-Ups Zone” will make its debut in the Expo this year. Together with a series of fringe events taking place during the fair period, the participating start-ups will be able to maximise their exposure and reach out to the bountiful opportunities emerging in the market. Interesting Hong Kong start-ups include: (see next page)


Amazing Creative Holding Co., Ltd. Artspirit Creative Studio Beeline Pro Limited Contact Design Limited CreamArt Limited Cyberarts Limited EasyVan Hong Kong Limited Intoxic Studio Limited MIQ Image Company The Contact Store Limited Well Link Industries Limited Whitehole Design And more…

HOLISTIC BUSINESS SOLUTIONS – HELPING SMES TO MOVE UP THEIR VALUE CHAIN The Expo’s Trade Hall presents innovative business solutions ranging from design and branding services, marketing and advertising strategies, ICT solutions, to 3D Printing services etc. With the business matching meetings arranged during the fair period, the Expo will be once again enabling the SMEs to source a full spectrum of services to upgrade their business.



SEMINARS AND FORUMS IDT Expo will host nearly 40 seminars and forums spotlighting a full range of hot topics and opportunities relevant for startups. They include latest creative and branding strategies, innovative marketing and mobile commerce, big data, tips for angel fund-raising and commercialising for new entrepreneurship etc.

FAIR WEBSITE HKTDC Inno Design Tech Expo: innodesigntechexpo

This year, the IDT Expo partners with Sweden to present the seamless integration of inspiring design and our daily life under the theme “Living Design”. Inspiration from global creative minds comes together at the Expo’s Inspiration Hall. More than 30 innovative Swedish brands and companies, such as Ankarsrum, Electrolux, IKEA, Scania, Sweco and Volvo will share their inspiring forefront ideas and how design brings about positive change to our lives.






SMALL BUSINESS SHOWCASE Need an accountant? Photographer? Help expanding to China? Visit Jumpstart’s SMALL BUSINESS SHOWCASE, a directory of companies that have demonstrated enthusiasm, commitment and a proven track record for growing small businesses in Hong Kong.



Fastlane helps Hong Kong SME’s with Xero Bookkeeping,

Pim Photography specializes in event and editorial

Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Business Advice and Cloud

photography, new business launches and

Solution. Hong Kong clients include Snaptee, AmbiClimate,

networking events. She’s photographed many events at

LaunchPilots, Nanoleaf and many others.

coworking spaces and loves to do portrait and product

Fastlane just opened up their third office in Cyberport.

photography for small businesses professionals.





Dinchack is a training company based in Hong Kong that

9AMConsulting helps small businesses with their overall

provides business consulting, corporate training and personal

marketing strategy and implementation to maximize

coaching. Every session is tailor-made to the client’s needs,

online and offline traffic and sales. They specialize in

and is relevant, effective and fun. The main areas of training

search engine optimization, e-mail marketing, affiliate

include: Foundation for Success, Sales and Marketing,

marketing, print/web design and monetization.

Leadership and Motivation.


FRESH ACCOUNTING ACCOUNTING, PERFORMANCE AND PROFITABILITY Fresh Accounting is a dynamic management accounting

Alarice International is a Hong Kong-based business

practice and consultancy based in Hong Kong. We believe

consultancy specializing in advising international companies

accountants should do more than just report on how

on their growth strategies in Greater China. Alarice’s specialties

your business is doing. We are here to help identify

are China Online Social Media and Content Marketing.

opportunities and strategies to improve your business and

support you in improving the performance and profitability of your business.

Learn more about these companies and their services on For criteria on joining the showcase please contact


Ask Allison is a place to ask your most burning startup related questions, completely

anonymously. Worried about the nuances of raising in money in Asia? Are you navigating a challenging social situation? Thinking about starting a company with your significant other but not sure how it will play out? Ask anything. No judgements. Just answers.

Dear Allison,

 I have a startup idea and have made a working prototype. However, I have no programming skills and no technical co-founder. Would angel investors ever consider funding a company like mine, that hasn’t actually put their product on the market?

 Sincerely, Early Days

Dear Startup Sensation, The fact you are asking this question means you are most likely not ready to raise money. A lot of people have really awesome ideas. Only very few are actually able to make them happen. Even fewer yet are able to turn them into profitable businesses that provide solid returns to investors. Because of these odds, unless you have an incredible track record, there are very few investors (besides maybe your Mom), who will invest in you before you have proven your concept and taken very tangible steps toward making your idea a reality. At Fresco Capital, as early stage and seed stage investors, we are some of the earliest investors you would potentially have on your team. However, before we make an investment, we always want to see objective validation that your product works, your users love it, and you have customers that will pay for it. In technical terms, we call this product/market fit, evidence of customer love, and recurring revenue. Once you have proof of concept and some real traction in the market, you should start to consider raising a seed round from investors who understand your vision, your mission, and your culture. If you’re one of the few people out there who has done a good job of executing your awesome idea, there will surely be quite a few people interested in investing in you. At that point, taking money can be tempting, but remember that your first investors are essential members of your team — you must choose them wisely!

Dear Early Days,

 Congratulations on your working prototype – that’s an awesome first step to building your business. The fact that you have gotten that far without programming skills or a cofounder certainly serves as a testament to your determination. It still sounds quite early, but if you are attacking an interesting problem and you have a real chance of solving it, you may very well be able to find funding for your company even in its nascent stages. It is impossible to speak for all angel investors, as everyone has different criteria for their investment decisions. I am sure you hear many horror stories of entrepreneurs spending countless hours meeting with potential investors and hearing “No” hundreds of times before getting a “Yes”. Though fundraising is a challenging process no matter what, you can save yourself hundreds of meetings and rejections by only reaching out to angels and funds with a history of investing in your type of company, at your current stage, in about the amount you’re looking for.

 An investor’s willingness to invest ultimately depends on their risk appetite, their ability to add value, and their relationship with the founding team. In this case, you should probably be looking to connect with investors with a high risk appetite (they are willing to lose all of their money), who can add a lot of value to what you are doing, and have worked with you or had a relationship with you previously.

 Based on the feedback from these initial meetings, you may find that you’re still too early in the process. In that case, be sure to ask investors what they would need to see from you to invest – the more specific targets they can give you, the better. Then, focus on building a team, refining your product, hitting those numbers. Once you do, get back in touch. At that point, those that turned you away the first time will be incredibly impressed that you listened to their advice and were able to follow through, which should make your fundraising conversations even easier.

Sincerely, Allison


Dear Allison, I have a really awesome idea for a tech startup. How do I know if I am ready to raise money from investors? Sincerely,
 Startup Sensation Waiting to Happen




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Send us a photo of you or your team holding our latest magazine issue and we’ll post it on our Facebook page and maybe even in the next issue!


Contest #1, November 2014. Illustrated by Christoph Niemann.

“YOUR CAPTION HERE” blueprint is excited to sponsor this new contest. We provide the image. You provide the caption! Email with the subject line ‘Jumpstart caption contest’

The prize for the winning entry this issue is

Two round trip tickets from Hong Kong to any Asian destination operated by Cathay Pacific Airways or Dragonair.

Deadline for submission: noon on December 5th, 2014. The winning caption will be announced in the next issue and on We are delighted to partner with award-winning illustrator Christoph Niemann for this first cartoon.


Please read the article entitled “Cartoon Caption Contest in Jumpstart Magazine” on the News page of for terms and conditions of the contest. By submitting a caption to, all entrants agree to these terms.

STARTUP MAGAZINE: Jumpstart Issue 4 (Nov/Dec 2014) Hong Kong  

2015 Trends, Business Lessons Learned in 2014, Crowdfunding Essentials, Holiday Marketing Strategy, Jump Willy, Startmeup, Etail Friday, Cap...

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