April 14, 2015
There are some exciting startups forming in Hong Kong so this week we searched high and low to bring you our list of 50 follow-worthy startups from the Hong Kong startup ecosystem.
Gate Coin is the first digital currency financial institution that builds products and services to change the way people transfer and trade money. The company aims to make international trades and cross-border money transfers of Bitcoin faster and cheaper.
Gate Coin is working on consumer level exchange first, and has already sold 15,000+ prepaid debit cards which can be loaded with bitcoin and used wherever MasterCard is accepted.
The startup has raised $500,000 in capital, and we are excited to watch how startups like Gate Coin push Bitcoin into the hands of experienced finance professionals, so it can be taken seriously on a global scale.
WeLab is an internet finance technology company that made a mark creating WeLend.hk, Hong Kong’s first P2P lending business.
Launched in 2013 by a team of senior professionals in leading financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, WeLab currently operates WeLend.hk, and China’s first fully mobile P2P lending platform Wolaidai.
The startup raised a $14M Series A financing from strategic and financial investors, including Sequoia Capital and TOM Group. WeLab is Sequoia Capital’s first startup investment in Hong Kong.
This startup is the Venmo of Hong Kong. Cashyou is a P2P mobile wallet that makes it quick, easy, and free to transfer money through all major Hong Kong banks for small transactions.
The platform was designed to offer a convenient way to pay back your friends. Features that separate the app include payment methods by scanning QR codes, entering an email, or choosing the person from Facebook friends list.
Cashyou is an alumni and winner of the Startup Weekend Hong Kong 2014. Venmo blew up in just a few short years, and we are excited to see the growth of this startup in the Hong Kong market.
This mobile payment app launched in 2012, is a customizable system of pre-payment, payment, and post-payment services, that lets business owners create customized promotional campaigns via the app’s Merchant Portal.
Users can pay online or at a participating physical location, and redeem promotional deals from merchants.
The e-wallet is a free app on iOS, Android, and Windows which allows the parties to transfer funds securely and instantly. Mobexo raised initial funding of $1.8M in 2012.
Founded in 2012, this startup is marrying the buy side and sell side to a single, global, web-based platform that streamlines corporate access booking, making it more efficient, targeted, trackable, and eliminates the need for email giving analysts and sales people time back in their days.
The company has raised $3.7M in seed and Series A funding, and has created new offices in Sydney, London, and NYC.
Late last year the startup acquired Extel (a service that rates and ranks excellence and interactions across the equity community) from Thomson Reuters, which makes us excited to see what blossoms from the merger of the highly complementary businesses within the corporate access industry.
Investable.vc was launched in early 2014 by Nest, a Hong Kong seed investment accelerator. The platform lets professional investors browse through a wide range of pre-vetted startups in Asia, and invest in opportunities, expanding their portfolio.
The service is membership based, giving investors access to the same opportunities and information as VCs, and provides investment opportunities on a first-come, first-served basis.
Nest’s investment committee vets and selects startups for the platform (less than 10% are selected).
This bootstrapped startup connects young professionals in design, web development, sales, marketing, and more with remote internship opportunities at global technology startups.
Startups are able to fill their employment needs in a cost effective, non-restricting way by reaching 4,000+ young professionals globally who are seeking a 1 to 3 month paid internship.
Intern seekers are connected with startups via a weekly newsletter that is essentially the equivalent of a job board, and can apply to exciting internships that are both fully remote, and paid.
In China, there are 60 million temporary workers for industries like banquets, hotels, and restaurants, who tend to get jobs through friends, family, and word of mouth.
JobDoh captures this labor force with a location based, on-demand mobile platform that books the best-fit temporary works. JobDoh gets rid of the middleman, and focuses on value creation.
The app raised $56K to pilot in Hong Kong, and has been in private beta since November of 2014.
Finding the right doctor is already difficult, and trying to research and find an appointment is time consuming.
FindDoc is like U.S. based Zocdoc for the Hong Kong market, allowing people to access all Hong Kong doctor’s information in one location and in multiple languages.
Users can use their website or download the free app for iOS and Android to search for healthcare providers by specialty, location, medical card, gender, and spoken language. FindDoc also allows users to easily schedule an appointment for free.
10. The CareVoice
This social app is the Yelp for medical services and treatments, that provides a platform for users to find unbiased, transparent information on medical providers and treatments from real patient experiences.
The social app gathers reviews from users on things like hospital visits, treatments, and more, so users can make more informed health decisions.
The app also helps healthcare providers and businesses understand how to improve their service and products. The startup has raised around 420K in initial funding to date.
Travel & Experiences
HotelQuickly is a last-minute hotel booking app in Asia that covers 200+ destinations, where hotel rooms available through the app average 28% less expensive than the best rates available online.
The app curates “offers” based on user location which are only available for same day purchase, moving spare inventory without taking from the existing market.
The app has generated 900,000+ downloads, with 600,000+ users. In 2013, HotelQuickly raised $1.16M in series A, and $4.5M last year.
Have the travel bug, and want an easier way to share your discoveries? Spottly is a free Iphone app that launched in late 2013, and has quickly become the go-to travel app featured as “Best New App” 5 times on iTunes.
The app allows users to easily log, manage, and share their travels, and has already had posts for over 28,000 places in 125 countries.
The app is available in 14 languages, and has an impressive stream of travel guides and videos curated by Spottly’s community of travelers.
This one year old startup launched in March of 2014, and mixes the benefits of services like Priceline with expert knowledge in the travel industry.
Zyppos is a crowdsourcing platform of travel experts that users can hire to create the best possible trip, and find the best flights at the lowest cost.
In 3 steps, users create their dream trip, and then experts in the industry work to make them happen. Zyppos recently launched version 2.0 of their technology with a complete redesign.
This young startup that launched mid 2014 is a one-stop shop for locals and travelers to both book and explore tours and adventurous activities.
The platform collaborates with the best operators of each destination to curate unique experiences, and fit varied travel styles of customers. Klook’s in-house developed content management and reservation system ensures the best experiences at the best prices.
Klook raised $650K in seed funding through angels and self funding a portion of the investment.
15. Nomad List
Nomad List is a crowdsourced index that ranks cities around the world by how hospitable they are for digital nomads (people who work online while traveling) to live and work from.
Users can find things like co-working space, apartments, cost of living, internet connectivity, etc. Nomad List monetizes through services that help remove friction of moving to new cities, and includes city guides and a bundle of product/services to help nomads quickly set up after arriving.
This startup launched the mobile app, Snapask, connecting students and teachers to conduct instant classes.
In traditional learning, there is a delay of time where students’ specific questions go unanswered, leading to a lack of initiative to participate. Snapask solves this need by letting students post their specific questions to a pool of Appedu tutors who will answer them within 15 minutes.
In 2013, Appedu raised $80K in seed, followed about another $100K in seed funding last year.
17. Joy Sprouts
Joy Sprouts is an educational and developmental app for young children that features award winning games and activities to develop a range of important skills for a child’s total development.
The app focuses on 5 crucial areas of development, and uses data driven technology to give parents a better understanding of their child’s learning behavior.
The Joy Sprouts app was launched in December 2014, and made top 21 in the US Apple App Store for Ipad. Joy Sprouts raised $325K in funding to date from Arbutus Capital Partners, and individual angel investors.
This startup supports and brings together academic researchers and conference organizers to help disseminate research to the public via the use of multimedia and social media technology.
The platform is both a social networking and event management platform for researchers.
Conference organizers post events and can accept payments on the website, and researchers are able to ask live questions, and post things like documents, photos, and videos to support their research content.
19. The Graduate
You always remember the best teachers you’ve had. The Graduate is an online social marketplace that connects students to the right teachers.
Through their search engine and cutting edge UI, the platform lets clients search for tutors who fit their needs, and allows tutors to run their own independent business.
Since launch in 2013, this startup working on improving the private education market has received initial investments of $100K.
20. BSD Academy
This startup believes that learning code is one of the most under-provided needs in all levels of society.
BSD Academy (BSD = Beyond Skin Deep), provides workshops, courses, and programs to people of all background and skill levels who want to learn web development, graphic design, digital marketing, and technical project planning.
BSD Academy provides youth courses ages 7 and up, study abroad opportunities, corporate learning, and courses anyone can take on their own time. BSD Academy raised around $170K since launching mid 2013.
Aedify aims to re-engage learners in their education through its innovative technology that implements new methodologies and practices tailored for the needs of specific age groups ranging from 2 through adulthood.
The startup wants to modernize learning through personalization, and they bring the most effective learning techniques and tailor them specifically for the people in Hong Kong through global partners and their own research.
They also have exam prep features that help students reveal weaknesses and improve them. Partnered with experienced children content developers, they created a new program that encourages children to appreciate nature and science in new ways.
PassKit provides the easiest way to create, distribute, and manage Apple Passbook content across major mobile devices, and allows businesses to better engage their customers on their mobile device.
PassKit allows anyone to design and roll out mobile coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, store cards and other forms of mobile payment in minutes. Customers can create mobile wallet passes for both iOS and Android devices.
In 2012, PassKit raised $1.2M in Series A, followed with another $200K raise in 2014 from Vectr Ventures. The startup has some powerful partnerships, such as Apple, Paypal, and Samsung.
Did you know that more photos were taken last year, than the total amount of photos in the first 100 years after the invention of photography?
Startup Zingly knew this, and saw a marketing opportunity to create software that leverages the power of user generated content from social media.
Their platform launched in late 2013, helps businesses in industries like events, restaurants, retail, and publishing collect, manage, and publish their customer photos more effectively for their own marketing purposes.
Starbucks can vouch for the fact that loyalty and rewards programs done well can drastically increase business.
SodaCard also sees the value in this industry, and is a loyalty marketing platform that allows brands to offer personalized loyalty journeys to their customers. The platform uses new tablet technology to engage walk-in customers in retail locations to continue the conversation online.
The startup launched in January 2013, and has raised around $1M (US) in funding, and has a community of 60,000+ members with over 100 brands.
This message automation tool was created in early 2014 to help both web and mobile SaaS businesses increase customer retention. The service offers pricing from free to $499/month.
Retain.cc monitors user behavior on your mobile app or website, segments them based on behavior, and sends personalized in app notifications, push messages, and email messages.
With other features like a/b testing and inbound sales management we are excited to see how the startup competes in this growing industry.
For Your Business
With a vast amount of online retail and manufacturing that happens in Hong Kong, this startup found a need within a large market. EasyShip is an on demand, technology based, fulfillment service provider that streamlines and facilitates the shipping process.
EasyShip will come to your door to pick up orders, pack them, and ship them at rates that are lower than any other fulfillment service in Hong Kong.
Just a few years since launch, we are excited to see how this startup grows within the asian market.
Wondering which startups are worth investing in, or what the odds of your own startup are in making it past one year? Oddup is a platform that ranks startups on a 1 to 100 scale through data analytics and sources from popular media and data repositories.
Users can look at a startup’s stats and curated views on the potential success of a startup, and view overall analytics and startup trends.
With only a $50K seed investment from Bigcolors, Oddup is seeing a 28% growth rate month to month, and averaging around $50K in sales per month.
This startup understands the frustration of waiting for important packages, and helps businesses notify customers about shipment status in a reliable and cost effective way.
Founded in 2011, Aftership won the Global Startup Battle and Startup Weekend Hong Kong in 2011. The Google-based service notifies customers of delivery changes and reduces customer inquiries regarding shipping, uses tracking APIs to display tracking information of over 200+ carriers worldwide, and tracks 6M+ shipments monthly.
Aftership raised an undisclosed seed amount in 2012, and raised $1M in series A funding in 2014 from the IDG-Accel China Team.
This startup helps event organizers, either corporate or government owned, to streamline the event organizing process and allow more focus to the impact of the event for attendees.
Essentially, EventXtra is a one-stop shop for event management, and the service integrates each step of the process from pre-event registration to after the event.
Launched in early 2014, EventXtra has raised around $260K in funding from HK and U.S. investors, and is now looking to expand service to mainland China.
What was once a side project of a software development company and self funded, now pays for itself. Pay4Bugs seeks out and reports problems with software or websites before they end up resulting in lost sales or complaints.
It is a self-service product that users control from their account and schedule when they want to. The platform has over 5,000 crowdsourced testers who make money by getting rid of little bugs within the software.
Pay4Bugs has already had 1,000+ clients from Hong Kong, US, Europe, and Australia.
Calling all coaches, toss away the pens and clipboards!
Coachbase, a Nike+ Accelerator graduate, is an app that allows sports coaches to draw and animate plays and drills for their team for over 20 sports, and share them directly with their players via email, social media, or through the website’s cloud storage.
In March of 2013, Coachbase raised $335K in seed funding. The app was also featured in a movie called Thunderstruck featuring NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
This mobile app lets you create custom T-shirts from over 1m+ design options with just a few taps of your smart phone.
Users import an image from their photo album, Instagram, or snap one with their phone camera. Snaptee lets users choose from templates, add a filter, include personal text, change fonts, order their shirt, and even sell the unique shirt all in-app.
Snaptee raised $750K late 2014, from SXE Ventures, Nest, and Groupon founders Danny Yeung and Joel Neoh.
Closing an initial seed round of $1.2M in early 2015, Shopline provides an easy, affordable, and localized solution for small to medium sized businesses to quickly launch their own ecommerce website in Asia.
Great for on-the-go entrepreneurs, Shopline works on any computer, tablet, or mobile device, and provides an easy to use admin panel to build and maintain your website.
Features include responsive design templates, zero transaction fees, automatic ordering system, custom domain, multilingual language settings, and more. This young startup already has 15,000+ merchants who have created shops that are bringing in high volume sales.
34. IP Nexus
This global platform is a one-stop shop for intellectual property that matches startups, inventors, SME’s, and innovators with lawyers, patent attorneys, and other professionals who can help them protect and monetize their IP.
The platform has a free “Ask an Expert” feature, services market, and directory of 1600 experts with information to contact them directly. Users can list IP for sale with no fees, and professionals can search IP for sale, license, and brokerage.
IP Nexus raised $900K near the end of 2013 from Guangdong Technology Financial Group and individual angel investors.
It’s no secret that women have a plethora of makeup they use from eye shadows, concealer, lip stick, and much more. Glam-it! launched a patent pending, all-in-one, customizable, refillable, light-up, rechargeable compact.
The product takes everything you need for a total face makeover, and packs it into a tiny, easy to travel with compact.
The company raised around $500K in seed investment, and has pushed their product into 6+ countries through luxury distributors and partners.
Spacious differentiates itself by combining a superior user experience with powerful analytical tools and relevant content to make the process of buying, renting or selling a property as simple and efficient as possible.
Their technology is similar to zillow.com, and overlays HK property listings to a map, cross-references them with previous data, and tells consumers if a property is over or under valued. The service also includes detailed neighborhood guides adding to the completeness of the apartment search.
The startup raised $500K in seed funding last March.
This young software company specializes in the development of mobile GIS software solutions, and raised money via Indiegogo ($30K), and computing-resource funding through the Softlayer Incubation Program.
Skylab Mobile Systems develops drones for both personal and commercial usage. Their initial product, Sky Drone FPV is fully digital, low-cost, full-HD consumer FPV solution utilizing cellular networks.
We are excited to see where drone technology goes next.
This startup, based in both Hong Kong and San Francisco, creates fun, 3D mobile games for girls and women globally. Their first product, a game called “Style Me Girl”, had over 1 million downloads in the first 2 weeks.
Frenzoo’s Me Girl™ games combine cross game universes of storylines and characters through an innovative content technology platform.
Frenzoo raised 1M in seed capital in 2012 from K5 Ventures, Siemer Ventures, and Ambient Sound Investments.
Luxify is Hong Kong’s first local online marketplace for buying and selling new, vintage, and pre-owned luxury goods, and connects buyers to dealers, collectors, and sellers.
The platform has 8 categories of items, and makes it easier for smaller luxury operations to compete and reach buyers. Luxify is not involved in transactions, and does not take a commission of sales, and it’s free to list and sell.
The startup received initial angel investment of $200K.
Variably is a tool for buyers and sellers to privately connect with one another, and find the fairest prices without going through the haggling process.
The tool allows users to automatically bargain the best price without having to change their website, and engage comparison shoppers in a new way.
The startup raised $925K mid last year through individual angel investors.
Launched mid 2013, this startup is a P2P platform for vans that connects van drivers and users to provide a more convenient and efficient freight service, and makes last-mile deliveries easier for users throughout Asia.
GoGoVan has over 50% of the van driver market in HK, with 18,000+ drivers using the service. When a customer calls a van through the app, the average driver response time is 10 to 15 seconds, compared to 20 to 30 minutes through a van calling center.
The startup has raised around $16.5M in funding to date, and has already expanded to Singapore.
Recently called “Myflat.hk”, Around is a marketing platform that connects people with their real neighbours. The founders believe in the power of a strong community, and users of the platform can create posts to connect with their neighbours, buy and sell items, and list rental properties.
The “Handyman Directory” feature helps users find handymen from their community, and the “Neighborhood Notice Board” helps users find local information.
The startup has raised around $130K in funding from CatalystVC Group.
This startup is taking the craze of sharing photos of your food on social media, and making it into a fun game that is similar to “Hot or Not”.
The app, currently only available for iOS download, is a competitively curated food photography platform that allows people to compete with friends and strangers by sharing their favorite food photography.
The app also acts as a food discovery platform where users can sift through the “hottest” dishes. FoodieQuest received their initial seed funding of $130K through the Nest accelerator.
Launched in January 2012, Praisage is an appreciation platform, that provides an integrated and independent channel for anyone to express their appreciation or gratitude for someone.
The founders aimed to promote a culture of appreciation. Users can register as a “Praise-maker” through Facebook or email, and share stories of experiences that are worthy of praise.
Praisage has raised around $159K from the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund and individual angel investors.
Intimidated by the one on one factor of a first date? Grouvly launched earlier this year to kill that fear by matching two groups of 3 people for a group date.
Users apply via Facebook, and are matched by compatibility. Then users pick two friends to bring, and pre-pay for the first round of drinks at a local location that Grouvly employees choose for them to meet the other group.
The app requires users to prepay for the drinks to ensure that everyone shows up for the date.
This startup believes that the future of social media lies in the expression of emotions. The platform created a new way for users to share their emotions easily by telling their stories through music.
Sensbeat enables music story matching to find clusters of people who have similar or opposite emotions.
With no money initially spent on marketing, Sensbeat had 66K+ impressions in less than 10 days, and has raised $1M in funding from angel investors in Hong Kong, US, and China.
With millions of blogs that are available, how do you find the right content sources for your needs? Notey was launched to help internet users discover more original content and blogs, using more than 500,000 curated topics.
It’s a mix of StumbleUpon and Pinterest, where articles are featured by streams, and users can add topics to their home stream, and like, share, or save articles.
The startup has raised $1.6M in seed funding to build the service through several angel investors including Steve Kirsch, Hugo Barra, and Ryan Holmes.
Who doesn’t like having fun? 9GAG is a comedy website and the Reddit for visual humor. The startup is an open and collaborative platform that allows users to share jokes, memes, and comics.
The website blew up and now receives 70M+ unique visitors and 1 billion page views monthly.
With numbers like that, 9GAG attracted the attention of many investors, and raised $2.8M from True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, Kevin Rose, and more.
DayDayCook is a content platform built to help the younger generations cook and enjoy both traditional and modern Asian recipes.
The company has millions of monthly viewers through it’s multiple distribution channels including both traditional publishing, and digital content, providing high quality, easy to follow recipes.
They have a strong fan base on Facebook with over 275,000+ fans, and raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Ironfire Angel Fund and Vectr Ventures.
The Odd One Out…
Founded by a group of successful serial entrepreneurs, StartupsHK is a non-profit and independent group focused on building the quality of the startups involved in the community.
Their mission is to drive awareness to both startups and entrepreneurs through, conferences, networking events, and their website to share startup knowledge and connect different parties in the Hong Kong startup ecosystem.
The website curates community news on the technology startups community, startup jobs, and events. They also run an event called “Start Up Saturdays” once a year, where startups pitch their events and get feedback from the audience. They also host a weekly event where startup founders or investors speak to the community.
Interested in incorporating in Hong Kong? Check out this handbook.