With boundless creativity and sound technical knowledge, many of our graduates and even students have started their own businesses, giving full play to their entrepreneurial spirit. Business graduates Daisy Chow and Cyrus Chow, after beating numerous competitors with their technology business projects developed from innovative ideas and continuous attempts, were successfully admitted to the Cyberport Incubation Programme.
Thanks to Cyberport’s support and resources, the two entrepreneurs were able to jump-start their businesses and achieve good results.
Supporting young people, introducing HK brands
Daisy, CEO of Intimex Business Solutions Co., Ltd, has engaged in e-commerce for many years. Constantly keeping herself abreast of technology trends and rapid changes in the market, she leads her team to develop new systems and expand business opportunities. In 2017, she launched the intelligent savings platform Transin, where users receive cashback upon uploading a consumption receipt. The app also helps them sort out their consumption habits through big data analysis. ‘We encourage the young generation to live within their means,’ she elaborates. ‘By accumulating their savings, they may gradually be able to realize their dreams.’ The platform also analyses the overall market trend for merchants. To date, it has received support from more than 150 merchants and has collected over 230,000 receipts, with a total consumption amount exceeding HK$ 40 million. The solution scooped the Gold award in the Wealth Management Tech category of the 2020 IFTA FinTech Achievement Awards. ‘On average, the platform receives receipts uploaded by users every minute,’ she says with joy. ‘The results far exceeded our expectations!’
Assisting young people in financial management
Transin is one of the start-ups of the Cyberport Incubation Programme. ‘We were selected only after many hardships!’ Daisy recalls. The team devoted persistent efforts and invested HK$3 million to develop the system. It was not until the team enhanced the mobile app and recruited a good number of merchants and users that the start-up was admitted to the Programme — after two failed attempts. The idea of this innovative technology business plan came from the feeling that the new generation was loaded with negative energy, and one of the reasons for negative emotions was economic pressure. Those who lived pay cheque to pay cheque, in particular, lacked the awareness and skills of financial management. Making reference to the cases shared by her young colleagues about how foreign countries helped the youth to save money, Daisy transformed the idea into a something suited to Hong Kong and created Transin. The platform connects merchants and consumers, assisting users in money saving through rebates offered by participating ‘supportive merchants’. It also encourages peer groups to share their wealth management experience and invites financial experts to give advice. ‘Young people may not welcome their parents’ words, but those of their peers are different,’ Daisy says. ‘I hope they can learn more positive financial management knowledge from this platform.’
Introducing Hong Kong brands
The fintech start-up later launched the online shopping platform BuyDong in 2020, with the aim of leading local brands to enter the international market. The new system connected to Transin, with customers’ consumption data and participating merchants’ information shared between the two platforms, which were interoperable and complementary to each other. The entire system was self-developed with unique features in operation speed, system flexibility and security level. ‘Our past experience of working with Hongkong Post facilitated the platform’s operations in handling online orders and delivery around the world without geographical constraints,’ she explains. ‘This is an overwhelming advantage!’
Shouldering corporate social responsibility
Capable and agile, Daisy has been running her own business while insisting on fulfilling corporate social responsibility for years. ‘IT professionals possess relatively up-to-date knowledge with which they wish to improve people’s lives and even change the world,’ she explicates. Over the years, she has been committed to giving back to society and helping SMEs to enhance their competitiveness. Not only has she received widespread praise, she is also most delighted to get acquainted with the like-minded, and together they founded the SME Sustainability Society to advocate corporate social responsibility and promote a benign business ecology.
Inheritance is a key part of sustainability. ‘We have conducted a lot of training in the company and discovered many potential successors,’ she affirms. ‘I also share my experience at SME events frequently.’ She appreciates the creativity and courage of young people, but alerts them to the importance of being conscientious when starting a business, and suggests that they collaborate with a supportive partner.
Having obtained an MBA degree in 2008, Daisy candidly says that the knowledge she picked up at the time is still useful today. ‘If you can master the academic knowledge of business management, you’ve already won half the battle,’ she elaborates. ‘Nearly 90% of start-ups cannot survive more than three years. Don’t assume that victory is certain,’ she says. ‘Be well-prepared and be ready to devote several times the efforts of a typical employee. Making reference to the opinions of industry experts will definitely help.’
EV charging opens up overseas
As an electric vehicle (EV) user, Cyrus had been troubled by charging problems for years. He points out that the relatively short driving distance within the city makes it suitable for the use of EV in Hong Kong, which also helps alleviate air and noise pollution, and enhance energy efficiency. ‘It can be achieved as long as the charging facilities are fully equipped,’ he stresses. Partnering with his friends, he turned his idea into innovative business solutions by setting up oneCHARGE Solutions Ltd. ‘I didn’t think it would be successful when I first formed the start-up, but it was worth doing.’
Novel solution to EV charging problem
After two failed attempts, the team finally came off with an admission ticket to the Cyberport Incubation Programme, through which they received funding and venue support. The key of their successful bid is a self-developed system that combines charging facilities, applications and operating panels, which can be handled with just a smartphone. Cyrus supplements that the company has its own scientific research team to develop key technologies, saying, ‘Foreign software doesn’t suit our needs. We’ve spent several years perfecting the technology and tailor-made charging systems suitable for Hong Kong and other Asian countries.’ The company’s technology is in the forefront of the industry. For instance, the function to capture vehicle license plate information facilitates EV owners to directly connect to use the service. The payment system also allows users to pay after each transaction without pre-loading. While artificial intelligence technology and big data analytics are adopted to help manage traffic flow, network security is also addressed in addition to convenience and efficiency.
Exploring local and overseas markets
Start-up companies often encounter different problems such as shortage of funds, yet continuous product development is indispensable. After several years of hard work, Cyrus’s team had set up 18 charging stations in Hong Kong by the end of 2020 and scooped multiple awards at home and abroad, including a Silver Award of the Hong Kong ICT Awards 2020 – Smart Mobility Award (Smart Transport). He pragmatically comments on the company’s performance, ‘We still need to work hard! The current number of charging stations is far from an impressive transcript.’ Over the past two years, the epidemic has reduced the flow of people and vehicles in shopping malls, affecting their business, but he is pleased to share that new orders have been signed and a considerable number of charging stations will be set up.
‘Hong Kong is a small city and to tap into overseas markets is a necessary step in our development. We therefore need to maintain a high level of innovativeness and scientific research output,’ he continues. In 2018, the company participated in a start-up accelerator programme organized by the South Korean government and got the chance to enter its local market. The following year, their solution bagged a Creative Award in the Busan Startup Week. Though in the early stage of development, the company has already set up charging stations in South Korea.
To avoid wasting time in quarantine, Cyrus is currently living in South Korea and suffering from frigid temperatures even before winter has arrived. The out-of-towner only knows a little Korean but in order to expand his business, he deals with everything calmly. ‘Whether it is technology or user feedback, I will bring all my experience gained from overseas markets back to Hong Kong to help promote our business,’ he affirms. Indeed their charging stations have already been set up in Shenzhen and Shanghai.
Breaking barriers to create synergy
Cyrus admits that competition in the local market is relatively fierce, but he believes the operational mode with clear barriers between competitors is outdated. ‘We can compete with one another in technology,’ he reckons, ‘but in terms of operation, we should promote synergy and make up for service deficiencies, such as the arrangement and use of charging stations, to facilitate EV owners.’ As observed from various cases in different places, the more information can be exchanged, the faster the business of various stakeholders will develop. ‘This is indispensable for building a smart city.’
As a Hospitality Management graduate in 2011, Cyrus sincerely appreciates that his degree qualifications made him eligible to participate in South Korea’s start-up programme. The business management knowledge he learned from the University has also helped him embark on a business venture. ‘Basic skills are very important, which may help you reduce abortive work,’ he reminds fellow young people who also wish to start a business. He also recommends them to take entrepreneurship courses and enrich work experience, while at the same time be psychologically prepared for failure. After all, we can learn from it and prepare ourselves to face the next challenge. ‘Through trial and error!’ he emphasizes. ‘Try a few more times to find out whether your idea is feasible, and then gradually optimize it to succeed.’
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