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A tale of two sites

A profile of a pair of Hong Kong crowd-sourcing services

 

Makible What started as a crowd-funding platform has turned into one of the city's most promising start-ups.

A mechanical engineer by training, and former designer of the Happy Kitty adult sex toy, Jonathan Buford launched Makible in 2011 as a crowd-funding platform for designers to pitch ideas and entice buyers to back their products - effectively a forum for pre-ordering, but one reliant on large numbers of small orders rather than one giant order.

The site will also handle sales and logistics. "I felt there was a gap in the market as designers are often bad at distribution." The use of crowd-funding to pre-order products allows designers to validate their ideas in the marketplace before starting production. If a minimum sales target is not met the project will be cancelled without incurring manufacturing or marketing costs.

Initially, the business struggled to gain traction, until Buford used the platform to launch his own products. His first success was a gimmicky robot-shaped hands-free microphone. He wanted 200 orders before committing to production. He got 500. His next successful project was a low-cost 3D printer. The rest, as they say, is history. Demand took off and he took HK$7.8m in sales last year. He hopes to hit HK$39 million in 2014.

Dreamna A banker by day and crowd-funder by night, Nigel Yip set up one of the city's earliest donation-based sites. Started last year with two friends from Hong Kong University, Dreamna allows people to raise small sums for pet projects or favourite charities.

Recently, they helped a local author raise money for his year-long charity walk to London. Another campaign saw people give money to renovate schools in Nepal. Some of their campaigns are a little off track - their first project was to raise money for a Taxi Charity Day whereby one taxi driver drove friends around for free. Readers sponsored the stunt, giving HK$2,000 to the charity Po Leung Kuk.

Dreamna only charges a HK$100 service fee for posting on the site. Yip's motivation was part curiosity, part idealistic. "We want to see people focus on their passion. We want to see people be creative and help others," he says.

 

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