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.
Ping_profile
ABOUT PING

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)

BUDGET-25FEB-1-300x225

 

 

 

 

 

財政司司長曾俊華Facebook圖片

作為科技創業者,對於財爺曾俊華剛發表的新一份財政預算案,筆者認為尚算合格,雖然沒有太大驚喜,但見財爺確實聆聽意見,例如將科研項目到商品化、應用及試用方面著墨不少,收窄科研與應用的嚴重段層,亦放心思在如何讓廣大市民明白預算案的內容,你只要到財爺的社交媒體就感受到極大差異。

最令筆者感興趣的是為中小企而設的「科技劵先導計劃」,資助中小企使用科技服務及方案,以提高生產力和升級轉型,以配對形式資助每間合資格的中小企最多二十萬元,預計開支五億元。

財爺短短一百字的「科技劵」新政策,不但令全港32萬間中小企為之興奮,亦令初創企業憧憬在那五億元的中小企消費中,分一杯羹!筆者還是建議大家冷靜一些,細想這會否是「糖衣服陷阱」?

糖衣一: 利益輸送給大公司或某些服務提供者?

「科技劵先導計劃」資助只適合已認可指定的服務及方案供應商,中小企只可在認可供應商的列表中選擇,問題是:誰決定及如何決定被認可?條件又是怎樣?大公司成為認可供應商當然是易事,相對香港初創企業就算產品成熟,會否礙於公司規模、年資等被拒諸門外?最終認可供應商只會偏頗大公司或某類型的公司?

建議:認可機制必須公平客觀,至於初創企業,可以考慮只要已成為一些國際及本地培育計劃或加速器的成員公司,如數碼港、科學園、Blueprint、Y-combinator、500Startup等,便可自動被認可。

糖衣二: 本地研發產品跟跨國公司比拼?

就算香港初創企業能成功被認可,在同一戰場上與跨國公司比拼,中小企會如何選擇呢?

建議:為了鼓勵中小企使用本地研發產品,政府應提供誘因,如中小企使用本地研發產品,可獲更高比率的資助。

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。

建議:簡化、縮短及電子化「科學劵」執行程序,並配合細額及月費形式的支出。

政府推出新政策原意總是好的,往往到落實執行時變質,筆者作為創業者,認為財爺這份財政預算案尚算合格,但是實質上是否合格,也就要等待有關詳情及實際執行細節,初創企業是否能真正「受惠」,還是「受害」,我們還是要式目以待。

借創業界金句作結:「投資者的錢一天未到你的銀行戶口,不要信。」

財政預算案有關「科技券」的內容:

  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。

(文章只代表個人立場)

Ping_proifle_pic2-1x-500x500

 

王嘉屏

EVENTION 行政總裁

香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人

 

原文刊於《信報2016年02月25日

 

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

cy-leung-300x200

 

 

 

 

 

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。

整體感覺這次施政報告比較「虛」,未知有甚麼可實質地幫到startup,可能字數有限,往後希望多一點內容及實際詳情,但重點是如果政府「真的、真的」想幫忙,請簡化行政程序,如程序電子化、減省不必要手續及減省批核時間,因為時間及人手是startup的生死資源,不然就是「越幫越忙」了!

(文章只代表個人立場)

Ping_proifle_pic2-1x-500x500

 

王嘉屏

EVENTION 行政總裁

香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人

 

 

原文刊於信報2016年01月13日

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

 

img-216100251-0001

 

創業要有「勇」,亦要有「謀」,只靠到那間的勇氣衝勁,缺乏周詳計劃,可能會招致失敗。初創企業Evention行政總裁王嘉屏認為,「創業畢業是盤生意,有熱誠是好,但要成功,亦需要有部署。」

IT工作經驗助創業

Evention是活動解決方案供應商,如服務品牌旗艦店開幕活動、企業周年晚宴、婚禮等。

王嘉屏於大學修讀會計、曾從事業務發展及市場營銷工作,後來因對科技產生濃厚興趣,而轉到科技界。從事IT工作逾15年,曾舉辦不同類型的IT活動,為她建立創業的基礎。她表示,未來很多行業將會由科技帶動,而科技界變化較大,機遇處處,故於去年加入Evention,主力負責公司業務發展。

她續指,以往從事的工作對她擔任Evention的CEO很有幫助。「身為初企CEO,需具備財務、市場營銷、科技應用等知識,以往工作經驗有助更快上手,亦較易與不同職位的同事溝通。」

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。

問及創業成功的條件,王嘉屏強調是產品。「很多人都只將產品設計的想法提出,而沒有確實執行,這當然不會成功。若將產品付諸實行,能為客人解決問題,令客人滿意,生意便會來,亦可吸引技資者。」她又指,初企創業者需兼顧不同層面的事務,如請人、見投資者等,可能會迷失方向,而忽略產品的重要性,需重整步伐,將事業發展放於產品上。

 

另一個成功條件是吸引優秀人才加入,她表示﹕「老闆請人可能會過不到心理關口,不會請一些比他更優秀的人。但人無完美,若可聘請比自己更優秀的人才,有助公司的業務增長。」她補充,初創企業是不斷發展的公司,聘請不同專才加入,壯大團隊,反而更有助發展。

 

宣傳要靠客傳客

有齊產品、人才,亦需要「super勤力」。王嘉屏認為,時間就是初企生命一部分,所以創辦人需不斷努力,縱然遇上挫折跌倒,也需盡快爬起來,並從中學習,重新出發。她勉勵創業者,要「不怕跌倒」。

初企要推廣業務,需從不同途徑入手。王嘉屏表示,焦點需放於產品質素,以口碑吸客。她續指,透過客戶轉介客戶的方法,既能建立口碑,又可與客戶建立良好關係。「可透過社交媒體,傳媒訪問、社區活動等渠道作宣傳,令更多人知道Evention,從以增加曝光率。」

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

向來科技界的女性比例較少,女創業者就更少。王嘉屏認為,女性從事科技行業優勢多多。「很多科企都需要非IT的崗位,如產品研發等市場營銷的工作,女性有良好的溝通能力,與客戶交流時亦會較有優勢。」

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)。」

問及如何管理人才,王嘉屏表示,初企宜減少階級制度,與員工加強「同一層面的溝通」。為加強與員工溝通並建立關係,她從「坐房」搬到員工工作間,與他們一起坐,感覺較似一個團隊。初創企業需較有資歷的專才加入,她希望招聘具較強商業網絡的人才,亦希望聘請不同國籍的人才,建立多元工作間。

 

(文章只代表個人立場)

Ping_proifle_pic2-1x-500x500

 

王嘉屏

EVENTION 行政總裁

香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人

 

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2016年02月16日

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

 

若大家有舉辦過活動,應知道活動前的籌備工夫十分繁複,要花時間處理參加者的報名手續,活動當日要列印名單核對,在每個名稱旁邊剔名,但在自動化的科技世代下,應要有一個專為籌備活動而設的App,所有工序在同一平台上完成,節省時間。

ping-wong-2feb-200x300

 

 

 

王嘉屏拿着iPad,講解Evention系統可讓參加者在邀請電郵中報名及付款,並會儲存參加者的名單。

 

 

 

Evention行政總裁王嘉屏(Ping)拿着iPad,講解Evention可讓參加者在邀請電郵中報名及付款,系統會儲存參加者的名單,協助用戶向參加者發送確認電郵,並附有二維碼,讓參加者在活動當天到場後,可以透過掃描二維碼來核對名字,或在系統內搜尋參加者名字,系統會列印名牌予對方,節省參加者排隊入場的時間。

確定參加者閱覽電郵

另外,Evention會實時通知活動有多少人進場,若有特別貴賓到場後,App會發出訊息,讓籌備者作出安排,亦會紀錄用戶公司各員工的負責工序。當邀請電郵發送後,會紀錄客戶是否收到電郵,及有沒有瀏覽,Ping解釋這項功能是使服務更貼心,「如果系統顯示被邀請者已點擊,便不要致電予對方詢問是否收到電郵。」

沒有網絡也可使用

她又說:「企業的晚宴會設有抽獎環節,App設有抽獎功能,可以接駁上投影器自動地進行抽獎,紀錄中獎的員工,並即時通知員工,可以節省許多工夫。」

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。

為了作出更貼心的服務,活動到尾聲時﹐Evention除透過電郵或SMS發出感謝語句外,亦會為用戶即場發送電子問卷,方便參加者作出回饋。

另外,有些活動是閉門舉行,例如名人婚禮,保安較嚴密,Evention便設有相片上載功能,以核對參加者臉孔。

她強調,這個App並非衝擊公關公司業務,因為Evention不會參與嘉賓邀請及物資運送等環節,為客戶籌備活動時,亦會與公關合作,Evention其實是協助減輕公關的工作。

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。

愛IT人率直轉投科技業

Ping在IT界活躍逾15年,期間舉辦過大大小小的IT活動,明白籌備活動的難處,希望透過這個App減輕籌備者的煩惱。她原本在大學修讀會計,曾做過物業管理,後來轉做科技企業,發現科技經常變幻,感覺刺激。

而且她喜歡跟IT人共事,「他們較率直、簡單,不會攻心計」,因此便決定長留在IT界,更擔任了香港互聯網協會秘書長4年,接觸許多Startup,近年便親自落場踢波,加入Evention去創自己的一番事業。

從事展覽活動的梁小姐試用Evention兩次,應付達600人報名的講座,她表示,以往用「原始」方法去準備登記流程,每次活動要列印參加者的名單及編號,花費了不少時間處理,使決定試用,以節省處理參加者入場的時間。她說,大家普遍習慣使用二維碼,入場時會自動顯示二維碼去登記。不過有時Wifi若不夠強,便會影響運作的速度。

梁又指出,以往活動宣傳時,會向會員發送電郵,但不知道會員是否收到或有沒有打開,使用該App後,系統會告知會員是否收到電郵及是否已閱覽,因此同事均欲繼續使用Evention。

ipad_evention1-768x493

 

(文章只代表個人立場)

Ping_profile

 

王嘉屏

EVENTION 行政總裁

香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人

原文刊於《信報2016年02月11日

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

擷取

 

初創了解客戶 學習「無印」好蹺

「無印良品」(無印)日本家品品牌,分店遍及全球超過24個國家,產品簡單實用,設計簡潔,是筆者喜愛的品牌之一。偶爾看到「無印良品的設計」這本書,啟發良多,現分享點滴。

創業者明白必要「以客為本」,才能創造出客戶喜愛的產品,但如何有效收集客戶意見從來也是一門學問。

「無印」為了收集客戶聲音,建立了很多渠道,除了一般門巿、網站、市場及試用調查外,值得一提是「觀察法」的調查,首先以不同背景的人,如設計師、採購員及管理層等組成小隊做家訪,以不同角度靜靜觀察客戶如何使用產品。

 

「無訪」家訪 了解產品另一面

得出不同及有效的觀察後,便與客戶傾談,從他們口中得知對產品的好壞評價,更重要是親身感受他們對產品的真實感覺,而觀察對象最好是家人或親戚等比較親近的人,那就沒避忌,聽到真心話。在客戶身上觀察到產品的不同用法,甚至連產品開發者也意想不到、創新的方式使用,從而改善產品,令客戶更方便及滿意。

另「顧問委員會」是一組不隸屬無印公司的專家及設計師,定期討論,不限於無印的事,也會針對社會潮流、新聞時事、日常生活遇到的問題等等,提出感受及意見,並非作出具體決定,在日常營運中的管理層帶來新衝擊及新點子。

現今很多技術工具能讓創業者更容易取得客戶使用產品時的狀態及數據,但能否真正了解客戶,幫助產品開發及公司發展?那只有創業者才知道。

 

(文章只代表個人立場)

Ping_proifle_pic2-1x-500x500

 

王嘉屏

EVENTION 行政總裁

香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人

 

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2016年03月03日

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

血流成河

 

初創企業「血流成河」?

美國矽谷是科技初創企業的發源地,有傳近月情況開始有變,投資者發現不少初創企業回報不如理想,加上全球經濟動盪,投資意欲銳減,Twitter、Evernote等大型科技公司開始裁員,矽谷傳出裁員潮,初創企業前景不明朗,難以籌集資金,勢必「血流成河」。
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)。

矽谷風險投資者不是期望每間投資的初創企業都有理想回報,而是在過百或過千間投資組合的初創企業中,期望有一、兩間Uber、Airbnb等過千或萬倍回報的公司跑出,現在投資者可集中扶植有Traction有潛質的初創企業,亦令整體創業環境更健康。
至於大型科技公司裁員,只代表公司已到「瓶頸位」,不能再以自身舊有優勢膨脹,裁員是重整策略,亦是調整期。這些科技公司應該不斷創新,創造更多獨特優勢,才能持續發展及成功,不然只是歷史重演,在科技洪流中,像巨人般倒下,如Ericsson、Kodak等不再神話。

(文章只代表個人立場)

Ping_profile

 

王嘉屏

EVENTION 行政總裁

香港互聯網協會 總監及創業小組召集人

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2016年2月18日

 

 

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

作為一位創業者,深切感受到政府政策的「離地」,與全球步伐及方向脫軌。從來創業者都不會期望政府能助你成功,但亦希望政策能「貼地䀡心」一點,幫到一點點忙。

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

既然數碼港及科學園能與多間共用工作間合作,為什麼不可將一些培育計劃的初創企業,駐在那些近市中心的共用工作間?不必硬要其長駐數碼港或科學園。

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」。

(文章只代表個人立場)

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2016年01月15日 

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

SCMP_3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

14JAN2016

 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)。

(文章只代表個人立場)

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2016年1月14日