Hong Kong-based incubator NEST is looking for entrepreneurs with good ideas. The two-year-old investment platform is interested in consumer and lifestyle focused businesses, and is now holding a monthly pitch day on the last Saturday of every month. Last week, we had a chance to stop by NEST’s smart incubation center and talk to the founder Simon Squibb, also a serial entrepreneur who started a local creative agency Fluid. And he shared some thoughts on the Hong Kong startup ecosystem with us.
The Spirit Is Always There
When we asked Simon if the HK youth are still addicted to financial services and corporate jobs, his answer is a firm NO. “Hong Kong people never lack the entrepreneurial spirit. Just look at their predecessors or the present legends like Li Ka Shing. The great spirit has never changed, and it’s more like something in their blood. Maybe after the 1997 Asian financial crisis some people begun to fear the risk in doing business and some are becoming more conservative than before.” However, as to Simon it’s all different now, especially among youngsters. Now that more and more Hong Kong students pursue their studies overseas, when they got back they brought novel concepts and inspiring ideas as well, which are gradually affecting the whole ecosystem now.
Talking about the city of Hong Kong, Simon depicted it as a unique mixture of western and Chinese, but never lost in the fusion. “I think the biggest difference between HK and other Asian cities is that the market here is more global. If you got it here, you got it everywhere. While maybe for some other cities in China, it would be harder to move on elsewhere after conquering the China market. Moreover, HK is more free(like less control from the gov) and much easier to run a global-sized business under the international background.”
A Great Idea Is Not Enough
“I love to help people, and I love money, too.” That was just very blunt and true, and might also be the reason why Simon preferred to consider NEST to be a “social enterprise” rather than a company. He told us that his criteria for choosing a promising startup is not only about the Great Idea. The entrepreneur or team himself is more valued and considered. “Everyone could have a great idea, but the key is how to apply it and who to deal with it. We care about how the entrepreneurs are like and what their dreams are.” So what they are looking for is a great entrepreneur WITH a great idea.
Time for advice from well-experienced entrepreneur, and Simon gave us four points: 1. Never give up; 2. Think about your scale first (Always think big); 3. Balance your intensity of work and workload. 4. Understanding failure.
The Pitch Day
Next Saturday would be the next pitch day, and according to Simon they have been receiving about 10 applications per day by now. The venue would be the incubation center in Sheung Wan and the judges would be the team behind NEST. Currently the incubator promises to provide HK$500,000, mentorship, workspace, hands-on advice and support. For details of the event, please click here.