Category Archives: Startup

Bridging the IT gender gap【China Daily 17.3.16】

Bridging the IT gender gap

By Nan-Hie In

Diversity problems in Silicon Valley continue to take center stage but to what extent do these issues also resonate in Hong Kong’s startup community? Tech experts weigh in on the topic. Nan-Hie In reports.

Bridging the IT gender gap

Diversity woes in Silicon Valley are making headlines again as Arjuna Capital’s push for transparency in the gender pay gap in the tech sector gains traction.

The investment firm is pressuring shareholders at seven tech giants, including eBay, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook, to disclose salary disparities of men and women and more. Amazon and eBay have balked, whereas Intel and Apple have embraced them. Other firms will vote on the proposals this year.

The movement was ignited after an uproar over comments by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2014 that women should refrain from asking for pay raises but should have faith in the system.

Jennifer Carver, chief investment officer at Nest in Hong Kong, applauds Arjuna Capital’s movement but cautions companies not to get too carried away so as to overlook the meritocracy. Skills and experience should shape salaries. “Sometimes the conversation turns too much around pushing women as opposed to pushing capable women and helping women to be more effective in the work place,” she says.

The industry veteran also claims pay inequality is not as prevalent in Hong Kong, where the startup scene remains too green to have developed these issues to the same degree.

Eda Chow echoes that view. She’s a career tech entrepreneur who just opened Maker Lab, a hardware products innovation lab in North Point focused on digital fabrication technologies. “I was paid decently during my startup and tech career. I was even paid a little higher than my male counterparts,” she says. “When I’m the boss, I pay my staff based on their experience and not their gender,” adds the co-founder of Maker Lab.

In other areas of the industry gender imbalances are evident. Chow has attended tech events and mentoring programs where she was the only female entrepreneur present. Tech experts elaborate on various gender diversity issues and efforts to help close these gender gaps in Hong Kong.

Tech’s discrimination

Ping Wong, the CEO of Evention, a mobile-based event solution helping organizers stage events, has observed underrepresentation of women in her industry. For instance, Wong, who has 15 years of experience in the IT industry is the only woman on the eight-member board of the Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation.

She recalls a dinner gathering at which tech peers asked everyone to count how many female tech startup founders they knew in Hong Kong. “I could count them on my 10 fingers,” she says.

Many factors are at work behind the gender imbalance. That includes what Wong dubs as “unconscious bias” in the industry. She says it’s not active discrimination but gender bias among industry professionals, rooted in social culture and expectations. “For example, employers are not conscious about wanting to recruit male developers but they believe it perhaps due to a long-held perception that men are better at coding than women,” she says.

She suggests women give voice to these issues to challenge such misperceptions in the hopes that decision-makers use more objective criteria in assessing tech professionals for hiring and promotion.

Another factor that deters women from the industry is the traditional Asian culture that expects women to carry the bulk of family responsibilities. “These (expectations) not only come from your husband but your husband’s family and your family, which amounts to a lot of pressure,” she says. Wong implores family members to encourage and support women with startup founder ambitions or other dreams in the field. That includes the sharing of family responsibilities.

Wong and some of her industry friends plan to launch Tech X Women within a few months. It’s planned as a platform to help women in the tech sector to connect, share knowledge, support and mentor each another.

One of the initiatives includes trips to Silicon Valley, to experience the startup culture and mindset. “When I went a few years ago to Silicon Valley, it changed my thinking, that I can do much more than I had thought,” she says, adding that the experience shaped her current startup.

On those trips, Wong observed stark differences  in the mindset of US and Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Startup founders in Silicon Valley tend to take bigger risks and hold grand visions of their concepts. “Often they would say ‘I want to make a product that changes the world,’” says Wong. Most young people in Hong Kong tend to aim to make lots of money to buy a flat, says Wong.

“If you don’t think big you will never be big; for young people and for startups, I think the mindset is very important,” she says.

Nothing ventured

In Silicon Valley, gender inequity is most amplified at the investor level, as Ellen Pao’s sex discrimination lawsuit in 2015 has highlighted. Studies also reflect this. Babson College’s survey in 2014 found that only 6 percent of decision makers in venture capital firms in the US were female, a decline from the 10 percent in 1999.

Carver says this is because “the old boy network is just too difficult to overcome.” However the situation is not the same in Hong Kong’s young startup ecosystem. For example, four or five years ago there were no early stage venture capital firms in Hong Kong, so that issue didn’t even exist.

“Among the early stage venture capitalists we work with, there are still fewer women than men but it’s not 6 percent; it’s maybe 40 percent or 30 percent,” she reveals.

There was a time  gender equality in the Hong Kong investment scene was worse. Carver’s nearly 30-year career in asset management began in 1987, in equity sales in Hong Kong. Back then, brokers and clients were predominately male. “I went to a lot of hostess clubs and drank a lot of scotch and smoked a lot of cigars,” she recalls. That was how you got business back then.

She found she was excluded from after-hour outings where deal-making, idea-sharing and networking were done. She couldn’t get into The Chinnery Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, a popular hangout for brokers. In those days women were not allowed.

Conditions have changed dramatically since. In the tech field, for example, Chow, Carver and Wong claim they do not feel excluded from social occasions because of their gender. “Because of the early stage of the ecosystem, everybody wants to include many people so they can get things moving,” explains Carver.

The investment head at Nest foresees more women participating in the industry, as Hong Kong’s startup culture matures. Her firm is at the forefront of advancing this community. Nest’s founder Simon Squibb, for example, has been persuading InvestHK to do more to build the city’s startup culture and his efforts have paid off. StartmeupHK was one result: a week-long events and activities for new and promising companies, organized by InvestHK. Its recent launch drew considerable attention with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk as its keynote speaker.

Nest also launched the Step Up series at its AIA Accelerator debut in Hong Kong this month. The aim was to highlight issues such as raising capital to help female entrepreneurs. However, as its first event, the lack of men in the audience concerned Carver. “We need to engage men but they don’t show up for those conversations. Without them, things won’t change as rapidly as they need to,” she says.

Education can also be improved to help close the gender gap. Local schools must shift away from its heavy test-oriented approach and an educational culture that fosters a negative stay-within-your-confines mindset. She has noticed some universities now focus on entrepreneurial studies. “That’s a good move to teach kids to think out of the box but it needs to start earlier,” she says.

Tackling the cultures that define gender roles and women’s pressures at home are trickier. As she says, it’s a challenging global issue. Male support of women including willingness to share family responsibilities are key to recalibrating gender imbalances in the sector. “It comes back to having more men involved in these conversations to understand the issues and participate in them,” she explains.

While it is important to have this dialogue among men and women, at the same time she takes issue with the fact that question is still under discussion in 2016. “I look forward to the day these conversations doesn’t need to happen.”


The opinions expressed are solely her own.

Female serial entrepreneur, CEO and Co-founder of EVENTION, her 2nd tech startup.Business development & marketing professional with >15 yrs’ exp in IT. Writer for HK & regional media.


Original article was published on《Tech in Asia》on 17 Mar 2016

財爺給初創企業的「糖衣陷阱」?(信報﹣StartUpBeat 25.2.2016)











糖衣一: 利益輸送給大公司或某些服務提供者?



糖衣二: 本地研發產品跟跨國公司比拼?



糖衣三: 初創企業未必能入場? 

很多初創企業的產品是一個app或雲端服務, 每月月費只是幾十元至幾百元,從前中小企缺乏資源從沒考慮,如推出「科技劵」後,成本下降,他們會考慮使用,但「科技劵」能否配合細金額及月費形式的資助呢?行政程序是否繁瑣冗長,減低中小企使用這些服務的意欲?初創企業實質上未能入場。





  1. 為了加強中小企的長遠競爭力,我會在「創新及科 技基金」下推出「科技券先導計劃」,資助中小企使用科 技 服務和方案,提高生產力和升級轉型。先導計劃為期三 年,以配對形式,為每間合資格中小企提供最多二十萬元資 助,預 計開支為五億元。






香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人




施政報告欠Startup的四件事(信報﹣StartUpBeat 13.1.16)







施政報告小意見! 剛完成有關施政報告的訪問,做startup是超難,當然不期望政府助你成功,只是有時「有,好過乜都無」,今次施政報告中提及支援創科初創企業的政策,似乎沒有太大驚喜及新點子,作為做startup的人,以下少少分享:

1. 欠缺國際視野 -除了內地市場,其實許多startup都想衝出國際市場及拓展業務,但幾乎甚麼都没有支援,唯有靠自己。

2. 欠缺多元化思維 - 現在「甚麼甚麼」委員會或評審團的組成都欠缺多元化聲音,應加入年青、不同性別、國籍等的代表,才能真正追緊全球startup的步伐,始終startup不只是講經驗及年資的。

3. 科研與商業化斷層 - 香港除了要投放多些資源做研究,最大問題是如何將科研商業化(commercialise) 才能真正創造價值。

4. 欠缺善用本地產品意識 - 政府應帶頭優先考慮使用本地startup研發的產品,其實有些本地產品已十分成熟。







香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人




初企CEO: 創業重溝通講產品 (經濟日報-Smart World 16.2.2016)









問及創業遇上的困難,王嘉屏坦言﹕「找Co- founder(聯合創辦人)最困難,比找老公老婆更難。」她表示,聯合創辦人需互相了解,理念和價值觀一致,才能互補不足,成為「最佳拍檔」。找拍檔亦不能「心急」,以減少創業失敗的機會,亦需定期與「拍檔」溝通,有意見照直提出,加強溝通。








同時,Evention已參加微軟、IBM、Softlayer Catalyst Program等初創計劃,對公司尋找商業夥伴和擴大曝光率更有幫助。未來希望將業務擴展到亞洲及內地,又會籌募資金發聘請產品研展人才,作擴大業務之用。


女性入科技界 機會處處利溝通


她指,很多女性都以為從事科技行業很深奧,其實只需要有基本概念即可,而科技專才大多性格較直率,願意教導外行人,故她鼓勵女性從事科技行業,「不要想像Entry Barrier(入行門檻很高)。」








香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人



活動管理App 搞講座毋須狂印紙 (信報 11.2.2016)


Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 5.31.18 PM
















不過,這類功能一般要連接上網絡才可使用,如果場地接收不到網絡,那App會否作廢?Ping表示:「發現許多活動場地的WiFi有問題,聽過有活動因網絡連接不到,拖垮了整個登記入場過程。Evention設有Offline mode,可以讓用戶如常核對參加者名字,包括掃描二維碼或在系統內搜尋名字。」

她舉例說,H&M亦有使用Evention,該時裝品牌在銅鑼灣恒隆中心旗艦店舉行活動,該位置是WiFi死位,H&M當日便使用Offline mode,確保登記流程不受網絡影響。但Offline mode壞處就是不能即時知道入場的總人數,要事後查看。




Evention推出市場超過4年,本身是本地軟件公司Apptask的附屬產品,原名為Event Master,但當時Apptask眼見此產品具發展潛力,於是去年把它分拆出來獨立經營,再改名為Evention。

Ping稱,因為Evention早前欠一個營銷專員,剛巧她當時欲創業及熟悉活動籌備,「I am the missing piece」,因此便加入Evention,協助營銷工作,主攻百人以上的活動,客戶有蘋果公司及渣打銀行。













香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人
















初創了解客戶 學習「無印」好蹺 (經濟日報-Smart World 3.3.2016)



初創了解客戶 學習「無印」好蹺





「無訪」家訪 了解產品另一面










香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人



初創企業「血流成河」?有危便有機 (經濟日報-Smart World 18.2.2016)




過往「過熱」創業環境,只是有過份多「泡沫」初創企業充斥,他們沒有客戶或收入, 甚至連產品也沒做出來,只靠吹噓創意想法吸引一輪又一輪熱錢,死亡是必然,只是熱錢延長了死亡時間。

筆者認為對於初創企業不見得是壞事,「有危便有機」,這樣環境下其實更有利擁有實質產品、客戶及收入(Traction) 的初創企業,因為已實在地證明到Product-Market Fit(初創企業死亡的第一大原因)。







香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人




政府谷創科 不能「離地」進行 (經濟日報-國是港事 15.01.2016)


HKET Policy Address Startup entrepreneur internet technology王嘉屏  EVENTION 行政總裁  及  香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人 

政府谷創科  不能「離地」進行

創新科技(創科)是全球經濟發展的火車頭,近年香港政府積極推動支援創科初創企業,冀香港能孕育出世界聞名的 「獨角獸」-價值10億美元以上的初創企業,慢就是慢了點,但如果現在拼命的向目標跑,也許還可追得上,可惜看罷今年施政報告,實在沒有驚喜,「新點子」也欠奉。

只懂進運內地  與全球脫軌


1. 欠缺國際視野 - 施政報告有關創科政策大篇幅側重與內地合作,如設「國家重點實驗室」、與內地研發合作項目及香港6所大學進駐深圳南山高新區等,郤沒將焦點放在如何與國際創科接軌及交流,接收更多元創新的資訊。  

政府一直以來只懂推出一籃子「進軍內地市場」的支援計劃,事實上最佳的合作伙伴是指大家能產生最大協同效應的,最先進攻的市場理應是初創企業具備競爭優勢的地方,而那不一定是內地。香港創科初創企業如果「Think Big, Think Global」,盼拓展業務至國際市場,冀望成為下一間「獨角獸」,那麼你只能靠自己 。

2. 單一化支援 - 政府對初創企業的支援大致主要有「三招」:

a. 培育計劃提供免租辦公室 - 數碼港及科學園位置遠離市中心,亦不在港鐵沿線,不便客戶探訪,但最重要是初創企業請人已十分困難,如果辦公室位處偏遠,員工要坐2小時以上交通來回,只令請人難上加難。 

數碼港 科學園地點偏遠 未解決


b.  按比率就特定營運支出作報銷(reimbursement-重點是「不是」提供做生意最重要的營運現金流(Operation Cash Flow),只是初創企業預先付款,再經歷長時間及繁複的申請及批核程序,才能「有可能」收回部分的支出,消耗初創企業的生死資源:時間及人力,其實簡化及「無紙化」程序真的這樣困難嗎?

c.  投資配對基金(Matching Fund- 這是比較新的點子,如初創企業能成功找到投資者,政府會承諾以相同的價錢及股份比率投資(當然政府會設上限),旨在協助初創企業更容易找到投資者。計劃目標理想但實際執行時,需多重批核及煩瑣程序,以及超詳細的財務盡職調查(Financial Due-Diligence) , 再者政府偏向批核低風險項目,審批委員會成員又單一化,嚴重與市場做法脫軌,能否真的幫到忙呢?又會否重蹈覆轍「DJI(大疆)走寶」事件呢?

3.  欠缺多元化思維 -美國矽谷成功的元素之一是「Diversity多元文化」,最強的團隊成員應包括來自不同性別、種族、年齡及出身背景等的人材,有助企業從多角度完善產品及商業策略。創科發展快,變化多,經驗及年資有時反而是包袱,所以政府應邀請更多元化人才參與制定創科政策,注入新元素,尤其施政報告指出政府將檢討「創新及科技諮詢委員會」的職能及組成,期望見到更多新及不同的臉孔。

4.  創科與傳統行業斷層- 施政報告重點提出「再工業化」,香港地貴而且經濟轉型至知識型經濟多年,實在看不到香港有獨特優勢「再工業化」,珍貴土地資源理應作更高社會效益用途。反之,科技一直發展的同時,傳統行業如零售、物流、餐飲、酒店等,在應用科技方面仍在起步階段,其實很多創科初創企業的產品已十分成熟及擁有客戶群,如能將傳統行業與創科企業聯繫,將創科基因注入傳統行業,致能降低成本,增加效益,那才是香港經濟的新增長點。

施政報告是創科策略指標, 如果方面走錯了,步伐走慢了,香港會越輸越慘,作為香港創科創業者,篇幅有限,實在一言難盡,有苦自己知,冀政府及相關人士能參考以上意見,再作深入研究其可行性,希望能真的「幫到忙」。



Start-ups need government support (South China Morning Post, 14.1.2016)
























Start-ups need government support

In his policy address delivered this week, the chief executive outlined the strategies and direction for Hong Kong in the upcoming year (“Hong Kong chief executive emphasises economic measures and steers clear of political hot potatoes in 2016 policy address”, January 13). He devoted some time to supporting start-ups in Hong Kong, but there’s nothing new.

That doesn’t surprise me. As an entrepreneur, I don’t expect government handouts.  At the same time, I believe some attention is better than none. Nonetheless, I found four important startup DNA characteristics missing in the policy plan for “Asia’s World City”.

  • Lack of a global mindset:
    Apart from the mainland market, a lot of start-ups want to go global and scale up. However, other than the government’s beating the drum for entering the mainland market, little real support or polices for start-ups’ internationalisation are mentioned in the address.
  • Lack of diversity:
    In Hong Kong, the composition of members of different advisory committees or panels related to start-up policies lacks diversity in age, gender and race, which makes the city continue to lag behind the world pace. After all, the pecking order according to experience and seniority does not work in start-ups.
  • Disconnection between research and commercialisation:
    The Hong Kong government has been putting more and more resources into research and development in universities and research centres. However, we have never seen a successfully commercialised research project or a “billion-dollar startup-up”. Without commercialisation, research can’t have an impact on society.
  • Local products are not preferred:
    The government should use the products it promotes. If it does not back local products, how can others believe and give high marks to products made in Hong Kong? In fact, some products developed by local start-ups are quite mature and have strong customer bases already.

Overall, the policy address was supposed to be an indicator which sets the direction of the government’s policies on start-ups and entrepreneurship. However, we have only seen empty words instead of substantial measures on supporting start-ups.

If the government really wants to contribute to the start-up ecosystem in Hong Kong and create positive impact, it should cut red tape in addition to those high-level strategies. For example, paperless submission and documentation should be promoted, unnecessary procedures should be simplified, and approval time should be shortened.

Time and manpower are crucial to start-ups. I think every government should put itself in the shoes of start-up founders before claiming to foster the start-up ecosystem in its economy. Otherwise, only hindrance rather than help will be the result.

The opinions expressed are solely her own.

Original article was published on《South China Morning Post》on 14 Jan 2016

施政報告谷創科 能幫忙嗎?(經濟日報-Smart World 14.1.2016)


 施政報告谷創科 能幫忙嗎?

剛出爐的施政報告對於創新科技著墨不少,作為一位創業者,不應期望政府能助你成功,因為創業從來也應靠自己,既然政府積極大力推動創新科技,支援初創企業 (Start Up),最緊要真正幫到忙。

環顧多項施政「新政策」,以乎沒甚新意, 只重覆或加強現有計劃,趨單一化:

1.         只著重單一市場從來成功的初企(價值十億美元以上的「獨角獸」)均是面向全球國際市場。中國固然是其中一大片,但著眼點不應只放在單一市場,更何況不是所有初企都適合以內地為第一戰場,政府應從實質支援初企開拓國際市場。

2.         只著重單一人材美國矽谷極力提倡Diversity(多元化),創業團隊包括不同性別、國籍、年齡及背景等人材,既互補不足,又避免從單一角度看事情,增加創新元素,有助完善產品及策略。初企從來都不只是講經驗及年資,政府應邀請更多年輕、不同性別、國籍及背景的創業者參與制定創科政策。

3.         欠缺本地優先思維政府應帶頭優先選用本地初企研發的產品,有些已十分成熟,政府政策應加重力度實行「本地研發優先」採購 。

總括整體施政報告創科策略,欠缺Startup的多元化思維及創新基因,當然我們還可以等待各項政策的詳情再討論,但以現在策略為基礎的話,能否真的令香港培育出第一間「獨角獸」? 我的答案是: 「抆水」(按:廣東話危危乎之意)。