Kiss and tell: learning app ShowMuse gets HK$3 mln from Hong Kong Science and Technology Park’s pilot fund

French-kissing tutorials by American-born actress Jessica C already viewed over 100,000 times; company says instructional clips better than YouTube videos

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 7:46pm

A video tutorial app inspired by an entrepreneur’s long stay in hospital for leukaemia treatment has become the first recipient of Hong Kong Science and Technology Park’s pilot fund.

ShowMuse, created by entrepreneur Dennis Cheung to help adults in their 20s and 30s keep learning outside the classroom, received an investment of HK$3 million (US$386,000) from the park’s HK$50 million Corporate Venture Fund (CVF).

The idea for the app and website began to germinate 10 years ago when Cheung was in hospital being treated for cancer. At the time, his doctor encouraged him to focus on other interests to stay positive.

WATCH: Jessica C on how to kiss ‘appropriately’ via ShowMuse

“I wanted to learn something that I was really interested in, but I wouldn’t have the time to learn when I was healthy,” Cheung said.

“I tried to search on the net, but in 2006 there wasn’t a comprehensive video website.”

ShowMuse is an incubatee of HKSTP’s Incu-Tech programme for technology start-ups. It applied for the fund after securing investment of an equal value from a private investor.

READ MORE: Questions and answers about Hong Kong’s new innovation and technology bureau

Cheung’s start-up was selected from a pool of around 50 companies. It was chosen for its potential market and strong team, said Peter Mok, head of incubation programmes at HKSTP.

It ranks as a “proven model in the US” and “a scalable model”, Mok said.

“Apart from China, they have a very good potential to scale out into the rest of Asia,” he added.

The fund is designed to fill the funding gap between the seed stage and series A investment round when companies look to raise between US$2 million and US$10 million.

Mok said due to the relatively small size of the fund, it is focussing on companies that are either tenants of the park, incubatees or graduates of such schemes.

The CVF is a co-investment fund, meaning start-ups must already have secured private investment or be able to find an alternative outside investor to qualify.

The maximum investment available is HK$8 million.

ShowMuse, which has been downloaded more than 50,000 times since its launch last November, gives users access to video tutorials on topics from wine tasting to giving presentations.

The videos are designed to appeal to university graduates in their early careers. They are sorted into four topics: family and relationships; self improvement; entrepreneurship; food and beverage knowledge.

Some 60 per cent are free to view. The rest cost between HK$3 and HK$8.

Among the most popular classes are a series of kissing tutorials hosted by ethnically Filipino-Chinese model and actress Jessica Cambensey, known as Jessica C. The Chicago-born celebrity’s lessons, which include a demonstration of how to French kiss, have pulled in more than 100,000 views.

Cheung said ShowMuse lessons are higher in quality than those on YouTube as tutors must show qualifications in their area of expertise.

ShowMuse also holds offline classes ranging from wine and cheese pairing to magic tricks designed to break the ice when meeting new people.