Hong Kong is home to more than 7 million people. It is one of the world’s biggest financial centers, and the Hong Kong dollar is the 13th most traded currency in the world. It is an island of opportunities for new business entrepreneurs. 2018 is almost here, and with so many new startups in Hong Kong, it is time to predict which startups will take their industry by storm next year.Sarath Muralikrishnan
Having all the business amenities for a successful startup such as high-tech machinery, transport systems, fast shipping and excellent infrastructure, Hong Kong attracts entrepreneurs from all around the world. The startups in Hong Kong are shaking up their sectors with incredible exposure. Here is the city’s list of the most promising startups providing amazing products and services that you should watch in the year ahead:
1. WeLab: Founded by Simon Loong and a team of finance and technology professionals in 2013, WeLab aimed to transform credit services by bringing them into the mobile era. Their first product, WeLend, was Hong Kong’s first online lending platform and they have since expanded into China with Wolaidai. With funding till date totaling $205m, and buoyed by top ranking in Deloitte’s inaugural Technology Fast 20 Hong Kong programme, the co-founder and CEO aims to target Southeast Asia next.
What to look for?
With their proprietary risk management technology, they efficiently analyze unstructured mobile big data within seconds to make credit decisions for particular borrowers. They also partner with traditional financial institutions who utilize their technology to offer fintech-enabled solutions to their customers. Their list of investors include:
• CK Hutchison’s TOM Group,
• International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group),
• Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad,
• Sequoia Capital,
• Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund,
• China Construction Bank (International) and ING Bank.
They have received many awards and grabbed the top positions in:
• World's Top 250 Fintech Companies
• Hong Kong Top 20 Innovators
• China's Top 50 Most Innovative Companies
• Deloitte Technology Fast 20 Hong Kong
• Innovation Leadership Achievement Award
• Model Enterprise among China's Internet Companies
• Most popular mobile lending platform
• Technology company of the year
2. Well Being Digital: Founded in 2012 by Wallace Wong and Kow Ping, WBD101 has gained applause for its Mogo and ActivHearts trademarks and won the Best Wearable Mobile Technology award at last year’s Mobile World Congress.
Specialising in m-health, wearable, and hearable technology, Well Being Digital is developing algorithms for the likes of wrist-based devices and sensor hubs. WBD101 is the only company in Asia that has remarkably accurate heart rate measurement technology (ActivHearts™) using Photoplethysmography (PPG). It can be applied to earphones and wrist watches. The R&D focuses on ensuring that accurate heart rates can be obtained under motion and in a continuous real-time manner with their patented multiple sensor algorithms. The final information is sent to the smartphone via Bluetooth Smart. They manage to get detailed information by removing the motion noise via multiple sensor approaches rather than using the accelerometer to calculate the movement between the sensor and the skin. This information can be used further to compute other physiological information.
Why it’s hot?
WBD101 was one of 10 start-ups to be selected for the Global Incubator Network goAustria programme in October, 2017.
It has received the following recognition and awards:
• Best Wearable Mobile Technology
• Special & Gold Awards
• Transtech 200 Award
• Merit Award Honorable Mention
• Hong Kong ICT Awards 2016
• The Digital Asia 2016 Insurtech Award Finalist
With more than 30 patents from Europe, USA, Hong Kong, China, and PCT, the company is developing algorithms and reference designs for earphones, wrist-based devices, sensor hubs and your other wearables.
3. GoGoVan: Launched in Hong Kong in 2013 by Reeve Kwan, Steven Lam, and Nick Tang as the first freight logistics platform in Asia with a mobile application as its carrier. The main aim of the app is to connect truck drivers with the demand users, so that delivery service can be readily available anytime, anywhere to provide customers with more efficient shipping methods and improve logistics efficiency.
Why it’s hot?
It is hitting into the the sharing economy with a service that lets people order courier services anywhere. Also, it's the first app of its kind in Asia.
The company has now expanded to South Korea, Singapore, China and Taiwan resulting in it being named Hong Kong’s first $1bn start-up after merging with Chinese-based 58 Suyun.
It currently has more than 20,000 licensed trucks.
4. Accompany: With the funding of $40.6 Million, the former leader of Google Analytics Amy Chang founded Accompany. The main goal of the startup is to deliver rich and real-time intelligence on every person you'll encounter at work, with the most prominent database of senior decision makers in the world. Powered by an established AI-driven data platform that checks billions of pages on the web and uses machine learning and intelligence to provide the richest and most real-time profiles in the world for tens of millions of companies and hundreds of millions of people. It then uses Artificial Intelligence to give you information on who's most important to you at that moment.
Why it's hot?
With the largest database of senior decision making in the world, it has the profiles that matter. If we talk in figures, it has over 250 Million People Profiles and more than 20 Million Company Profiles to date. Accompany has recently raised $20 Million in funding LED by Ignition Partners. It is considered as one of the products that bosses need, the best apps for innovative movers and shakers in sales leadership, one of the apps that will get closer to your dream job, and the best tool to know what's going on in your network and many more.
There is no stop for Accompany to rise in the coming year.
Check the feedback of one of their clients using it.
“Building an app that operates off of third-party APIs is easy. Building a standalone data platform takes years and the team at Accompany is way ahead of the game. They’ve put in the time and talent to build an intelligent data platform that can operate independently from any other service—it’s really distinctive.” - Aileen Lee, Founder, and Partner at Cowboy Ventures.
5. Startupr: Founded 5 years ago by Tomas Milar, a seasoned expert in company formation, corporate governance, and administration. It has the aim to help new entrepreneurs start, structure, and run their businesses in Hong Kong. New entrepreneurs can check their company's name availability for free and register their company in Hong Kong Only for $99 + Government fee. Startupr also provides a registered office address to entrepreneurs who need these services. From contact to company formation & bank account, All ONLINE, there is no hassle!
Why it's Hot?
With the increasing number of startups in Hong Kong, it can be intimidating for a new entrepreneur to start a new company in a new city. Startupr offers a helping hand to its customers. The customers can start their new Hong Kong company &open a bank account, ALL ONLINE at a genuine price! Hong Kong Business Magazine recently named Startupr Hong Kong Limited as one of the “10 Best Startups to Watch”.
The Startupr's unique SameDay system is fast and reliable. It checks the customers form information as they enter it, then automatically uploads onto the Companies Registry application, which is submitted directly to the appropriate government portal. It is expressly designed for swift incorporation. This is something that everyone looks for, 'a prompt service'!
6. Pymetrics: With a funding of about $16.3m, two Harvard/MIT PhDs founded Pymetrics. Pymetrics is the next generation career search platform. This company is all about the proven neuroscience games and cutting-edge data science to rediscover the way companies recruit, hire, and maintain talent. Rather than relying on resume data (which has quite poor predictive power), Pymetrics chooses AI to predict the job performance based on mixed neuroscience data. Using straight algorithms, Pymetrics builds a cognitive and emotional trait profile of a company's top performers to source and screen potential talent. Companies using Pymetrics see massive improvements across recruiting efficiency, employee retention, and team diversity.
How does it work?
The registered candidate needs to play a few games for about half an hour on Pymetrics’ website or app, and the company’s algorithms will gauge the intrinsic personal characteristics such as motivation or attention and tell you what career you’re best suited for. It will then send your profile to the potential employers looking for employees like you. As of today, Pymetrics has about 80,000 registered job candidates and a growing list of employers, which include Fidelity and search and talent strategy firm Egon Zehnder.
7. Ambi Lab: Founded by Julian Lee, Paul Sykes and Mathis Antony in 2012, the company is currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo and has, at the time of writing, raised $156,303. This is a very innovative approach. Inspired by the concept of “Ambient Intelligence”, the smart technology is offered simple and seamless - dissolving into the background and enhancing the user's lifestyle.
With the help of AI technology, Ambi Labs offers an advanced air conditioning (AC) experience in the form of Ambi Climate. The Unique A.I. technology detects and analyzes multiple factors, learns your comfort and adjusts your air conditioner for your peace of mind.
• A.I Powered
• Smart Scheduling
• Comfort Model
• You get the complete on-the-go control with the iOS and Android app.
• Smart Home Integration
• Save 30% on electricity.
• Easily Accessible and user-friendly
Read the feedback from one of their clients: "Helped save electricity and most importantly, I am no longer woken up due to the coldness of the aircon!" - Ben, Singapore
8. 8 Securities: Founded in 2010 by Mathias Helleu and Mikaal Abdulla, 8 Securities is an app that offers customers in Asia access to zero commission in stock trading across dollars, Hong Kong dollars and Chinese renminbi. There are no hidden account fees or minimum balance
Why it’s hot?
The firm has so far raised almost $30m and Adbulla recently spoke with Tech In Asia about its plans to spread outwards across the continent drawing comparisons with Robinhood, a US start-up with a similar business that this year was valued at $1.3bn.
The customers can enjoy one global account to hold HKD, RMB and USD with a single view of their portfolio. They can enjoy the consolidated buying power and automated currency exchange. They just need to manage their account, deposits and withdraws in a few swipes.
Also, the customers have the advantage to see their portfolio’s diversification and risk score in real-time. The app shows them the impact that every trade has on their portfolio's health. Their fast algorithms work to help their customers successful.
9. Shopline: Founded in the summer of 2013 by Raymond Yip, Tony Wong, and Fiona Lau, Shopline is a DIY e-commerce platform for creating online shops in Asia. All shops are completely responsive, adapting to all screen sizes so the customer experience is consistent on every device.
The needs for E-commerce in Asia is growing vastly and much different from those in the West. Shopline helps the new entrepreneurs with all the feature that they need to succeed online and to drive maximum sales for their business.
Why it’s hot?
What would normally take months of development and thousands of dollars in cost can now be achieved in a few minutes and at a fraction of the cost. Unlike other platforms, Shopline does not charge a transaction fee when their customers buy from them. That means the customer will keep all the proceeds from every sale they make.
Shopline has seen three funding rounds in the previous four years, amounting to total funding of more than $1 Million. The most recent round was from Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund.
10. Prenetics: Founded by Lawrence Tzang, Danny Yeung and Prof Michael Yang in 2014, it has raised $52 Million in funding, including a recent $40 Million Series B round led by Beyond Ventures and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund and involving Venturra Capital, REAPRA, Ping An Ventures, M Fund and Egarden Ventures. The customers can easily get to know their DNA. Also, they can empower their policyholders and employees to live healthier and to prevent diseases proactively.
Why it’s hot?
A genetic testing start-up, Prenetics partners with insurance companies to provide genetic tests to policyholders and is currently available in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. The company claims to have processed more than 200,000 DNA samples so far.
These are just some of the startups that have grown recently in Hong Kong. This list is never ending! With Hong Kong’s large-established financial center, growing startup scene and developed business centers connecting Mainland China with global markets, startups find it easy to invest here.