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Recap: Day 3 of 2017 Rise conference on technology and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 July, 2017, 2:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 August, 2017, 8:11pm

The third and final day of the 2017 Rise Conference in Hong Kong featured a number of discussion sessions from startups to debating whether the internet bubble is bursting. Here’s a recap of some of the sessions on the third day:

In the session titled “Innovate or Die,” the Lan Kwai Fong Group’s chairman and serial entrepreneur Allan Zeman said Hong Kong is slow in adopting new technology, especially in the new field of financial technology, or fintech, because there are too many established risk-averse players in the city. His fellow panel member Janice Lee, managing director of PCCW, said the company’s mobile streaming video service Viu is looking to compete with Netflix in Asia as it provides a more country-specific pricing. She said PCCW has been a disrupter in the era of cable TV and now it sees the urgency in adapting to the new landscape dominated by companies that provide over-the-top (OTT) content, or content transmitted via the Internet.

Does a tech worker need a college degree? Cindy Wang, chief marketing office of Uxin Group said a degree helps applicants knock on the door of tech companies in an increasingly competitive industry. Diane Yu, co-founder of FreeWheel, said a degree isn’t compulsory, since employees must keep improving anyway.

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Africa is the next hot spot for technology entrepreneurs, said Crunchbase’s chief executive officer Jager McConnell. In the next 10 years, the number of workers coming out of Africa will surpass the rest of the world, he said, Chinese investment in Africa has surged to US$26 billion as of 2013, from US$7 billion in 2008, while over US$100 billion in African roads, telecom, water, power and light industry will be financed by China over the last 15 years.

GGV Capital’s managing director Foo Jixun said that the autonomous vehicles are now getting investors to think what consumers will want to do when they have their hands free. Melissa Guzy, founding partner of Arbor Ventures, said autonomous vehicles will end up cutting across almost every other sector. Harry Hui, founder of ClearVue Partners, said that starting a venture in China is perhaps the most competitive although the initial cost in starting a venture has dropped significantly.

In the session called “The future of shopping: How technology is transforming the e-commerce experience,” Eric Zhao, the technology vice president at JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, said the adoption of big data, algorithm and drones will enable online shopping to occur at an even faster pace in future, than existing brick-and-mortar stores.

500 Startups China partner Edith Yeung said that Hong Kong has “a lot of catching up to do” with China in terms of entrepreneurship and innovation in the panel “Down and out in Shanghai and Shenzhen”.

“People [in China] want to make things happen no matter what, compared to Chinese founders, Hong Kong founders are missing that fire,” she said, adding that China has leapfrogged Hong Kong within the last five years.

Tencent product manager Stephen Wang shared some impressive statistics of the company’s popular WeChat messaging and social app. WeChat originally started out as a messaging app but has since expanded to include content, e-commerce and mobile payments. There are now 20 million official accounts on the WeChat platform, with the average user reading the equivalent of a novel’s worth of articles published on these accounts each month, Wang said. WeChat has also accumulated 600 million monthly users of mobile payments, who use the app’s wallet to send digital red packets to friends and make payments to merchants. Tencent’s core users send an average of 580 yuan (US$85) over 28 red packets each month to their friends.

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In the panel “Raising funds in Asia Pacific”, 9Gag’s chief executive Ray Chan urged founders not to put investors on a pedestal and to see them as equals, since founders are giving away equity in exchange for capital. Edith Yeung of 500 Startups advised entrepreneurs to let their key metrics speak for themselves when pitching to investors, rather than focusing too much on product features. Norma Chu, who founded cooking startup DayDayCook, said that start-ups should choose their investors carefully to ensure a good fit, especially if investors end up sitting on the company’s board since they will have a say in business decisions.