Fintech tour Hong Kong: Blueprint for start-up success
Hong Kong-based tech accelerator Blueprint is calling out to the region and the world for start-up applicants.
On the fourth and final day (20 January) of Banking Technology’s tour of Hong Kong, given to the international media by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, we were taken to Blueprint to see what it can offer and why two fintech firms have benefitted from its expertise.
By way of recap, on Tuesday (17 January) the region told its citizens and the world that start-ups are welcome to do business and capitalise on the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit. On Wednesday (18 January) a visit to the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) showcased what start-ups could gain by setting up operations there. While on Thursday (19 January) there was a chance to see start-ups pitch for a $10,000 prize (US dollars!) and venture capital experts share a few tips.
Two are true
Blueprint is a trendy and spacious co-working space and tech accelerator located in TaiKoo Place, Quarry Bay.
It was founded in January 2015 and since then 40 tech firms have been through its doors – with ten of those still in residence. Like any accelerator it offers mentorship, help getting connections and subsidised rent. Every six months, start-ups can apply to join for the next round. Blueprint must be doing well as it will be moving shortly to a bigger space just across the road.
The place has a very international vibe and 50% of the 40 firms have come from outside Hong Kong. I met two tech firms, one led by a Frenchman, the other by an American. These weren’t fintech, but good luck to them.
The two fintech firms who have been able to prosper under Blueprint’s master plan are Equity Sim and Ironfly Technologies.
For Equity Sim, the co-founder Justin Ling joined from Canada, and it allows stock traders to post their track record using a trading simulation platform and connect people to jobs. The start-up works with business schools, recruiters as well as banks.
Ironfly Technologies is a Hong Kong firm. It offers a combined order and execution management system for equities and equity derivatives. It is currently headquartered here, but has also expanded to Tokyo and London. The company’s founder is Kevin Mak.
For the rest of the day, the international media were taken to a “healthtech” event. I wish no ill will upon that sector, but it’s not relevant to our readers and so best to move straight on to the conclusion.
Over the four days I obtained an invaluable insight into the region’s fintech space and the tour was a success. The organisers wisely took us to the events and then left us to our own devices.
The stats, including those from the previous reports, prove that Hong Kong is truly an international place for fintech. Your nationality is of no importance here. If you have a good idea – people will listen. If you’re a firm looking at the Asian market, then clearly it has a lot to offer. But so does Singapore.
The level of English language skills here is perhaps marginally below Singapore, but I doubt that would be an issue. Having visited Singapore in 2015, that place is pleasant but has the feeling of being less relaxed when to comes to rules and less lively than Hong Kong. Which nation you choose for your Asian ambitions depends on which suits your needs or lifestyle choices better.
In any business it’s good to know when people are open to making money and establishing connections. Hong Kong, like many other nations, is telling the fintech world that you’re welcome any time.