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A business mind: Karen Farzam, WHub

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 11:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 August, 2014, 11:10am

After leaving her job at an equity trader in an investment bank in Tokyo, Karen Farzam moved to Hong Kong in 2010. Seeing the boom in local start-ups, she founded WHub, which connects entrepreneurs with like-minded engineers, marketing gurus and business experts, enabling them to exchange ideas and work together to build a successful business. She also co-founded “Women Who Code” a non-profit organisation which inspires women to excel in technology careers.  

Farzam was the regional winner in the Talent Unleashed Awards Asia category of  “Inspirational Leadership”. Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak were both on the judging panel. 

How did you get started with WHub? 

It all began over a cup of coffee on a Monday morning. I and my friend and now co-founder, Karena Belin, wondered why so many talented people could not find a job they really cared about. At the time I was looking at several opportunities to start my own business and I  realised that I had left many ideas unexplored simply because. I could not find the right partner to bounce them off. . 

I dug deeper into the start-up ecosystem and discovered that one of the biggest challenges for passionate entrepreneurs and exciting  start-ups is recruiting the right team to help them unleash  their full potential. We finally had a match!

I built the website by myself, having done a three-month course with General Assembly to learn Rails and JavaScript to equip myself with the skills to build my own website. 

What do you see in future start-ups? 

Start-ups can offer flexibility in terms of time, location and responsibilities, as well as a chance to make a direct impact on society; that’s the advantage they have over large corporations. We believe in the contagious energy of the start-up ecosystem to attract highly skilful and motivated individuals. That’s why at WHub, start-ups showcase more than just their products or services. WHub lets start-ups share their company mission, products and current job openings. While start-ups can’t always offer the most attractive compensation packages, they can provide perks such as flexibility, great working hours and the opportunity to make a positive impact on society.

By promoting the passion and advantages of start-ups, WHub helps entrepreneurs bring the right  talent into their team, find co-founders or just meet and exchange ideas with like-minded entrepreneurs.

Who makes use of WHub?

Our customers are passionate entrepreneurs and anyone else interested in the start-up ecosystem who is willing to make a difference.

We want to help the community and assist people in finding a job they really care about and where they can make a difference, be it getting out of the “Matrix” [corporate life], returning to a more flexible workplace or starting up their own business.

Currently our focus is on Hong Kong, but in the future we plan to expand to Singapore and other Asian countries.

Please talk about your work with “Women Who Code HK”.   

Despite the booming software industry in Hong Kong, I noticed that there weren’t any particular meet-up groups aimed at female software developers, so I founded my group in January this year, along with Michelle Sun of First Code Academy. It is a forum and open meet-up for women who want to collaborate and learn from one another.

We gather every month and the group serves as a source of inspiration to other women in tech, with varied topics, including robotics and web development. “Women Who Code HK”  has informative talks, exciting hackathons and collaborative forums for women in tech to learn and exchange ideas.

Who is on your team? 

We are currently a team of four working on WHub. In addition to my co-founder, we have two interns working on  marketing and  web development. 

We try to live by what we encourage our start-ups to do: energising the team with our own passion for what we want to achieve, communicating a clear vision and end-goal in mind to guide decision-making, and providing a mixture of trust and facilitation  for each of our talents, allowing them to contribute to their  maximum potential. Needless to say, the only hierarchy we believe in is the quality of ideas.

What do you do during your free time?

I have a girl and a boy, my free time is family time. I will take my kids swimming or hiking during weekends.