EHK Talks to Swire’s New Tech Accelerator ‘blueprint’ – Part ll
This interview with blueprint’s Hilary and Charlie was conducted and condensed by Hannah Leung of EntrepreneurHK (EHK).
EHK chats with Swire’s New B2B Tech Accelerator blueprint‘s Hilary and Charlie about what they are looking for in a startup.
What kind of start-ups are you hoping to recruit for the accelerator program?
Hilary: B2B and tech are our only requirements. We are taking the program seriously. We’re looking for ambitious teams with well-rounded groups and a quality product. They usually have a working prototype that they test, an idea of how they will attract market, a good head on their shoulders, and are at a state where we can help support them. So a bit beyond the development phase. But the co-working space is available to anyone involved in tech!
What sorts of applications have you received, and what stands out?
Hilary: In terms of verticals, it’s all over the place, data analytics, to logistics to Bitcoin people. We’re looking forward to hosting a diverse group. With different perspectives, you get a richer experience. Hopefully there will be startups from Vietnam mixing with Hong Kong. Peer to peer learning is important.
As for what stands out, so much of it is about the team. We see a lot of teams coming from the fields they are looking to disrupt – and having leaders with technical backgrounds is always a plus.
Do you see more corporations willing to sponsor accelerators and co-working spaces in the future?
Charlie: We’ve already seen the affect of Swire taking the lead and other companies getting involved.
Hilary: Hopefully it’ll be a good platform for other companies to get involved. It’s been exciting. A lot of the organizations in Hong Kong have worked hard. Co-working spaces like Cocoon have done a great job in getting things going. From all angles, people have just been jumping in. Accelerator programs take a lot more than just giving space. A lot of research ad thought goes into it.
Any plans on moving beyond Hong Kong?
Charlie: We have mixed used developments in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Chengdu; Miami is opening soon. For now, the accelerator program is Hong Kong focused, but expansion is very much a possibility.
After the six months, what happens with the start ups?
Hilary: We are about building a community, so we certainly want to stay supportive of the start-ups and have them in the community. So whether that’s coming by, helping with new startups coming onboard – we hope it’s an ongoing process.
What will the “work day” be like, for those accepted?
Hilary: It definitely won’t be a 9 to 5, these people have companies to run, and we understand. We will provide concentrated points of learning and connecting. We’ll be doing a mixed curriculum and take a tailored approach, working with mentors and establishing relationship. We’d like to empower teams to build relationships with key figures and mentors. Our mentors are quite excited by this idea. We will hold sessions with experienced entrepreneurs and investors not only from Hong Kong but abroad. We are partnered with Seedcamp in London, where I worked for two years. They will come run a boot camp.
For many of the start-ups, getting funding is a concern. What do you make of the fundraising scene in Hong Kong?
Hilary: From a start-up perspective, it may not be that transparent about where to go, so trying to help alleviate that uncertainty is important. I am getting to know investors, so when the time comes I can connect them. It’s about bringing more people together, investors who don’t know where to invest. There’s a lot of angel networks here.
What’s different about investment here versus the States or London?
Hilary: Whereas places like California have a long history of venture capital, Hong Kong is accustomed to more traditional ways of investing money, in ways that are less risky. Investing in startups is high risk, and that turns a lot of people off. It’s also a long process. Investing in real estate might fit better with some people’s financial needs. But this is definitely something that is piquing interest. People invest and are motivated by different factors. Sometimes they just want to get involved and help or have that mentor role, for some it’s a career change.
Interested parties can contact blueprint via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.