Hi-tech start-up breaks the mould

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 November, 2011, 12:00am


Related topics

When Stanford graduate Andrew Toy Jong-kein quit Morgan Stanley and launched a technology company, he decided not to base it in Silicon Valley. Instead, he started it in Hong Kong, where the economy is geared around finance and property rather than technology.

Born locally and educated at Island School, Toy, 33, chief executive officer of Enterproid, also insisted on employing local graduates.

'When we showed our technology to Google headquarters in California, they were amazed by what we had done ... our technology is better than technology coming from people in Silicon Valley,' he said.

In less than two years the company has grown into a multinational with bases in Hong Kong, New York and London.

Toy set out to change the practice of people using the BlackBerrys provided by their companies for business and another phone for personal use to avoid compromising sensitive information.

His company's Android app, Divide, which allows users to split one smartphone between work and personal use, has won two international awards and attracted US$11 million in investment from companies including Google and partnerships with AT&T and Dell.

Toy met co-founder David Zhu Wei while they were studying computer science at Stanford University in California.

They went on to work as engineers in various companies, including Morgan Stanley, where they met third partner Alexander Trewby.

Toy wanted to give Hong Kong a try, and his partners agreed.

'The one thing that is really good about Hong Kong is the talents. We have been very, very happy. It exceeded our expectations in terms of the quality of the people that we can hire,' Toy said.

Zhu, 32, said Hong Kong graduates were good academically, but lacked problem-solving skills and were reluctant to take risks. But with the trio's experience in Silicon Valley, they were able to create a team of passionate engineers.

They will have 20 staff in Hong Kong by the end of this year.

Enterproid started life early last year with US$500,000 and the use of a conference room in a Tsim Sha Tsui office owned by Toy's uncle.

The company says it is now dedicated to encouraging more hi-tech entrepreneurship.