- Opening up business opportunities; 26,000 participants recorded
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) organised three expos and a forum through online streaming platforms last week. The three events, namely HKTDC Entrepreneur Day (E-day), the Business of IP Asia Forum (BIP Asia Forum) and the HKTDC SmartBiz Expo, covered topics ranging from driving innovation through intellectual property and sustainable development to entrepreneurship and business know-how, offering both theoretical and practical insights to help businesses address challenges worldwide.
Under the theme “New Normal New Future”, HKTDC Entrepreneur Day and the HKTDC SmartBiz Expo presented 25 seminar sessions in total and welcomed more than 50 industry experts and renowned speakers from across different industries to share their business know-how and offer innovative responses to market changes for the benefit of local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. The two events attracted more than 12,000 viewers from 37 countries and regions.
With the theme “Unleashing Innovation for Sustainability and Growth”, the Business of IP Asia Forum (BIP Asia Forum) brought together more than 70 intellectual property (IP) professionals and business leaders from around the globe and over 14,000 viewers from 49 countries and regions to engage in in-depth discussions on the latest developments in the IP world. The forum served as a platform for interaction that connected guest professionals and business leaders with the audience.
Participants can revisit highlights of the expo and forum via video-on-demand until the end of December.
Embracing the Global Class mindset to expand internationally
Expanding a business into international markets is never an easy task. It becomes even more challenging during a pandemic, requiring businesses to take a holistic approach and outline a comprehensive expansion plan. At the HKTDC Entrepreneur Day, Aaron McDaniel, co-founder of 10X Innovation Lab, shared his views on expansion into global markets in the session “T-Chat: How to be a Global Class Company and Achieve Global Scale?”. Mr McDaniel has held various positions at AT&T, a Fortune 500 company, and is the youngest Regional Vice President in AT&T’s history. He embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in his early 20s and has accumulated extensive experience in various areas such as e-marketing and mobile-related applications.
Mr McDaniel said that companies with the “Global Class mindset” think global from day one. They build their team, their processes, their products, their strategies, and their core values in a way that can be localised or universalised. Global Class companies also have a different way of looking at talents and can bring in a team across the world. Subsequently, they use that local market knowledge to gain understanding and, ultimately, enter new markets. He also suggested that one of the hallmarks of Global Class companies is strong two-way communication. When there is an interesting insight or way of doing things learnt from a specific market, Global Class companies know how to spread the piece of useful information across their whole global footprint as opposed to keeping it just in one market.
Unicorns foresee robust post-pandemic growth in online shopping and payment
The session titled “Unicorn Fireside Chat – New Normal New Future” delved into the journey and success factors of entrepreneurship, bringing the latest insights from the new normal for the benefit of different industries. Komsan Sae Lee, founder and CEO of Flash Express, Thailand’s first unicorn, said that online shopping is no longer merely a service, but has grown into a type of infrastructure. The overall development of online shopping might be marginally affected when the pandemic is over. However, it is an irreversible trend for people to rely on online shopping to fulfil their daily needs. There might be fluctuations in the short term, but it will definitely turn into growth in the long run, he said.
Mr Lee added that he was happy about Flash Express becoming a unicorn, “This is a positive signal to some of the entrepreneurs, and this brings hope to the start-up teams in Thailand that they can become an outstanding business. This also means that Thailand has become a place that can make more and more people’s dreams come true. To investors, Flash as a unicorn is also an optimistic signal. Investors gain more confidence that Thailand’s start-ups are worth investing in.”
Airwallex has 19 offices worldwide and boasts a payment network that enables companies to conduct transactions in more than 150 countries. Arnold Chan, Head of SME (Hong Kong and Singapore) at Airwallex, believes that the pandemic has created opportunities for Airwallex clients to appreciate the convenience of their service when it comes to handling their financial service needs. Many of the company’s customers already had a physical bank account, but banks were failing to fulfil their needs under the pandemic. Users have been gradually shifting to their Airwallex accounts to carry out their financial operations. Mr Chan said this trend is here to stay after the pandemic and will continue to accelerate.
“Over the past two years, the demand for services provided by start-ups is growing bigger by the day. The COVID situation has led to a gradual digitalisation in the industry chain. Many start-ups have taken advantage of this opportunity to change the minds of traditional consumers or traditional industries. I think that the level of acceptance for technologies and start-ups will climb gradually, changing the entire start-up ecosystem for the better.”
E-commerce is accelerating faster than ever and has evolved into a service that provides more than a simple buy-and-sell function. However, online fraud and return issues have incurred a lot of extra expense for e-commerce companies. In “Tackling the Pain-points in Online Businesses”, Sarah Roden, Head of Operations, APAC, at Riskified and Roy Wan, co-founder and CEO of Return Helper Limited, presented innovative solutions to address these issues.
Ms Roden said that merchants partnering with Riskified can mitigate fraud and eliminate friction, as Riskified helps grow their partners’ revenue by increasing approval rates and eliminating drop-off. “Merchants have to create the easiest buying process possible in order to maximise sales while ensuring that the merchant and consumers are protected from fraud and abuse. On top of that, merchants must adhere to changing regulations and manage relationships with the banks and payment gateways. It is really hard for merchants to find the right balance here. We also offer liability shifts. If we tell a merchant that this is a legitimate order but we are wrong and that order is fraudulent, Riskified takes the financial liability for that order,” Ms Roden said.
Meanwhile, e-commerce accelerated greatly in 2020 due to the pandemic. Mr Wan said that the cross-border e-commerce market from China to the US grew 40% year-on-year to more than US$172 billion. However, both the return value and the total cost of online returns grew almost 100% year-on-year, meaning that returns are growing faster than the e-commerce market itself. This is a pain point for online businesses because they have to bear higher logistics and operational costs. Moreover, some of the returned merchandise will lose its commercial value. Online businesses are advised to partner with local recyclers to handle this returned merchandise. This can be a selling point for brands as online shoppers increasingly prefer to shop from companies that embrace ESG values.
Global Tech Summit on the future of 6G, metaverse and food technology
In addition to innovative ideas and inventions, businesses also need to protect their property rights through intellectual property transactions and patent systems, in order to provide continuous incentives for innovators to create and innovate. The Global Tech Summit, held last Friday at BIP Asia Forum, discussed the transformations driven by disruptive technologies and their impact on human living. Osman Yilmaz, 6G Program Manager at Nokia Bell Labs, believes that 6G will make extensive use of holographic videos. The 6G network will not only be a communication network, but a joint communication and sensing network, thanks to massive sensing and artificial intelligence (AI) in the technology. He explained that sustainability is also being taken into account in the 6G network design. “In 5G, some of the always-on signals such as reference signals have already been removed. But there is still room for improvement in 6G to reduce energy consumption. And I see that 6G will be one of the enablers. Having AI and machine learning in the picture for 6G, we can save up to 50% of energy.”
Yat Siu, Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of Animoca Brands, said that the metaverse being developed on social media platforms is a closed one. However, a true metaverse uses open-source platforms, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are one of the options. NFTs are powerful because they allow people to own open digital assets and eventually own part of the metaverse. “If you have a digital sword in your game, you do not actually own it. But in a blockchain, non-fungible token game, that asset belongs to you. Some other game companies can use that sword and compose on top of it to provide additional services. These are third-party composabilities on top of the assets that do not need permission from anyone. Also, decentralised autonomous organisations (DAO) will be the structures of the future. In this case, ownership is distributed to its users, meaning it serves the majority interest because the majority has a stake in it. The token infrastructure provides a way in which you can have decision making. And perhaps essentially it forms the most democratic format in which you can have ownership of a construction in the particular metaverse where you exist.”
Endless West is a food technology company using innovative methods to create wines and spirits at the molecular level. Alec Lee, the company’s Co-founder and CEO, said that its new production process ensures consistency in flavour when compared to the traditional way of making beverages. The company has effectively created a digital archive of a flavour profile. It means that they can create the same product today, tomorrow and in 100 years. They are not going to be bound by the effects of climate change and how that will impact flavours or the availability or scalability of certain products, nor by human output and changes in the process. “We can keep it consistent, or we can change it. That is the beauty of having a sort of digital control over the flavour profile of a product. This new way of thinking about building beverages is ultimately a technology that our future generations will use to make beverages.”
Sustainability trend is inevitable; start-ups continue to gain traction
The fourth edition of IPHatch Hong Kong, the open innovation competition, was launched during the BIP Asia Forum. The contest offers entrepreneurs patented technology portfolios of renowned multinational corporations to scale up their businesses. The launch and the breakout session focused on sustainable innovation, with representatives from prominent venture capital funds providing insights into the impact of sustainability on investment trends and decisions. Andrew Young, Associate Director (Innovation) of Sino Group, said that sustainability was an option in the past, but is a necessity now. Tech start-ups that can develop something good to fill the sustainability gap will see corporates willingly spend money to invest into those ventures or use the solutions. Jenni Risku, Impact Partner of Click Ventures, said that start-ups are never too small to make a difference. “If you look at every large company today, Facebook started in a dormitory. You could make a huge difference. That’s why you have all these accelerators – including us, as a VC – that want to invest in those people who want to make a difference, who have a big vision,” she said.
Quick commerce scrutinised at SmartBiz Expo
Since the onset of the pandemic, people have been relying more on e-commerce platforms to purchase daily necessities. Businesses and SMEs partnering with a suitable logistics and on-demand delivery service provider can have their goods delivered to consumers without delay and at a much lower cost. The session “Quick Commerce – the Latest form of E-commerce” welcomed a group of partners in a comprehensive e-commerce solution to analyse quick commerce with the audience.
KK Chiu, co-founder and CEO of Zeek, pointed out that when their customers transform from e-commerce to quick commerce, they are not only facing transportation resources issues, but also the need to build a comprehensive service system. “Zeek is supporting several major brands in Hong Kong, including Pricerite and HKTVmall. We are also supporting the fast delivery services of brands in Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore. This enormous demand for logistics services reflects that the market is moving towards the quick commerce business model,” Mr Chiu explained.
James Leung, Executive Director and CEO of Pricerite Group Limited, said the company aims to create value for its customers by leveraging the quick commerce model to cater for the specific needs of different groups of customers. “Seasonal products, home products, hygiene items and festive items are all products with immediate needs. They require time-sensitive delivery and Pricerite can deliver them to our customers within a few hours. The delivery capability of our stores is on par with that of small distribution centres in terms of systems, processes and manpower. With this, we can achieve point-to-point short-haul delivery and shortened waiting times,” Mr Leung said.
Joe Lai, co-founder of Wash Duck, said the company has become more diversified in its services to cater to the needs of the new generation of customers. Customers can easily access laundry services anytime with their mobile application. “Our vision is to revolutionise the traditional laundry service, so we are now piloting a storage box service in addition to offering a collection-delivery laundry service,” Ms Lai explained. “We will also be gradually launching different service products. We have also partnered with Zeek to provide regular, 24-hour, or even faster, collection-delivery laundry services to meet the needs of our customers.”
Hong Kong Telecom launched a telemedical service platform named DrGo last year. Teresa Ng, Head of Marketing at HKT Limited, said that Hong Kong people are hesitant about online transactions because of potential fraud and internet security issues. Therefore, DrGo’s entire system design, cloud and data storage is managed in Hong Kong, with a local team working to ensure internet security. Also, the service platform has been designed based on guidelines from the Hong Kong Medical Council to protect the interests of patients, doctors and medical institutions.
Businesses share tips on post-pandemic branding
The pandemic has changed purchasing preferences and consumer behaviour. In light of this, businesses have to enhance their brand image to rebuild trust with their customers and drive business development. In the session titled “Developing your Brand in Post-Pandemic Era”, representatives from three local brands shared how they broke through their brand image and repositioned themselves according to market needs and the new norm in consumer behaviour.
Aldric Chau, Head of Retail, e-Commerce & Travel Partnerships at Cathay Pacific Airways Limited, pointed out that online merchants often list a large number of products on their e-shops, taking an untargeted approach. However, this approach can make it difficult for customers to choose the products they need. With this in mind, Cathay Pacific did a lot of market research and communicated with their customers to understand their needs. Eventually, they selected some 10,000 products and partners. “The most important part of a purchasing process is after the checkout. I see this as the golden time to communicate directly with customers,” Mr Chau said. “In the past year, we have put a lot of effort into improving our after-sales and delivery service. We strived to shorten our delivery time and to improve our service quality. By November this year we were able to deliver products within one day, and the customer satisfaction level rose straight up to 80% that month.”
Andy Lau, Managing Director of Ngong Ping 360, said the cable car company has experienced pressure maintaining its operations with international travel brought to a halt. Therefore, they worked with their colleagues and potential partners neighbouring Ngong Ping 360 to drive change and made it through this difficult time. “While foreign visitors choose to visit a place based on their itinerary, local visitors have completely different expectations. They are more purposeful, and they want their experience to be one that can be shared with others and spread joy. They are generally having higher expectations and will look at the details in depth. Therefore, we need to launch different promotion offers to target different customer groups,” Mr Lau explained.
Percy Kwan, Marketing Director of Klook, said the company has put more local travel products on its platform than it did previously. “We would say that we are not a ‘travel tech company’, but a ‘tech travel company’. Whereas traditional companies digitalise at the operational level, Klook is a technology-driven company that puts its focus on travel. In face of drastic changes, the strong technology that backs the company will be of enormous help in enabling us to develop in other industries.”
– HKTDC Entrepreneur Day: https://portal.hktdc.com/eday/en
– Business of IP Asia Forum: https://bipasia.hktdc.com/en/
– HKTDC SmartBiz Expo: https://portal.hktdc.com/smartbizexpo/en/
– Photo download: https://bit.ly/3ImUmlQ
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is a statutory body established in 1966 to promote, assist and develop Hong Kong’s trade. With 50 offices globally, including 13 in Mainland China, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a two-way global investment and business hub. The HKTDC organises international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the mainland and international markets. The HKTDC also provides up-to-date market insights and product information via trade publications, research reports and digital news channels. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com/aboutus. Follow us on Twitter @hktdc and LinkedIn