Game Changers

Hong Kong investors more willing to take risks on start-ups and entrepreneurs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 7:01pm

Investors and funds in Hong Kong are becoming more willing to embrace the risks, and high rewards, of investing in start-ups, an experienced investor told a forum in the city today.

Speaking on a panel on funding at the South China Morning Post's Game Changers event, Adam Lindemann, founder and CEO of venture capital firm Mind Fund, said "raising money at the earliest stages is now very possible" for local entrepreneurs.

"This narrative of it's impossible to be successful in Hong Kong is yesterday's story," he said.

Lindemann added that while in 2010 his firm did not invest in any local companies, its current fund is "exclusively focused on investing in Hong Kong entrepreneurs".

In the past, Lindemann said, investors in Hong Kong were more conservative, preferring to stick to property and finance.

"They were just not suited to the completely crazy, ambiguous world of venture capital and entrepreneurship," he said.

"I believe that's changing."

"The beauty of being in Hong Kong is it's a launchpad for greater Asia and China," said Derek Kwik, managing partner at BraveSoldier Venture Capital.

However, Kwik warned that investors in start-ups need to "roll up [their] sleeves" and get involved at an operational level.

"An investor cannot just put money and funding in and expect a start-up to get to a certain scale," he said.

"[Start-ups] really need the added expertise and hands than an investor can give them."

Panel members were positive about the amount of support available to local businesses, but felt that more could be done.

"One of the most practical things that the government could do is to do something very positive in immigration law to help get talent and entrepreneurs to come to Hong Kong," Lindemann said.

"We don't need to rely on the government 100 per cent, but it should play a role to champion a certain direction," said Edmund Lee, executive director of the Hong Kong Design Centre.

The panel discussion was moderated by George Chen, managing editor for intnernational edition.