We said in our HongKong Impression I, HongKong market is small and it’s hard for startups to find angel investor or even VCs there. It’s a matter of fact, but, it does not mean there are no startups in HongKong.  During the stay in HK last week,  I skipped the Web Wednesday & Facebook event and walked in BootHK office where it’s a great pleasure to meet with Jon Buford who is the founder of BootHK, Y. Daniel Cheng from Pandaform, Nagib Tharani and his partner who together working on very interesting mobile service called Taxizu, and several other startup founders. Our chat, of course, focus on the startups in HongKong.

What is BootHK

BootHK is the HongKong’s entrepreneurial community by giving people a social place they can work and meet up, i.e. the co-working office which works like Xindanwei in Shanghai but has more focus on tech startups. BootHK allows the members to pay for using the space and facilities per day ($HK100), month ($HK2500+) or year even lifetime ($HK50,000). But it’s more about a shared place to work, Jon said,

The long term vision is to create a network of spaces throughout the HongKong that provide different environments such as hackerspaces, workshops, and social meetups for artists, entrepreneurs, and technologists.

It’s quite common that BootHK members have their own daytime jobs and come to BootHK at night working their projects. BootHK has become one of the core hub for HongKong startups.

Startup environment, HongKong is catching-up

Jon agreed that HK government was not that supportive for web startups and he’s a bit against the idea of No Angel investors in HK. “There are angel investors or VCs in HK, but just not many” Jon said, “but I do think 2011 will be a big year for HK startups.”Jon set up BootHK and only took about 4 months, it has attracted around 15 startups come to join this social space. Jon is very optimistic abou HK startup environment, the reasons:

  1. It’s super easy to set up a company in HK, no minimum capital requirements and it only takes 3 days and cost you probably $HK3000-4000;
  2. HK is probably has 2nd lowest tax rate in the world (according to this, HK has the 3rd lowest tax rate). For some cases, you don’t even need pay for corporate tax (maximum 16.5%) and only need pay the income tax (maximum 15%).
  3. International and the gateway to China and to the World can be also taken as advantage for some business.

Local startups walk-through

When I asked them to recommend some good startups I can look into. I have a ppt with over 100 slides introducing HK startups, Jon said. He introduced me a site called StartupsHK, where have listed 45 local startups. Jon highlighted some of them:

OpenRice.hk – the most popular local restaurant search service, like Yelp in U.S. or Dianping in China;

StyleNearby.com – a mobile application help boutiques and designers connect with customers in a useful and non-spammy way;

CampusFork.com – a restaurant food photo search engine. It enables new ways of organizing restaurant food photos.  Upload food photos and simple share via email, Twitter, Facebook, and via other social media.

TechIsland.hk – Hong Kong’s first tech and start-up job community!

Pandaform.com – Online Customize forms builder, like Woofu.

Taxizu.com – a mobile application allows you to easily find people interested in sharing taxis to common destinations with ease;

OutStreet.com.hk – is a site launched in 2010 aiming at improving the lifestyles of people in Hong Kong by providing a comprehensive online database of events and establishments;

RTTraffic.com – Real-Time Traffic (or RT Traffic) aims to provide real-time mobile multi-modal public transport information and management systems using geolocation and geographical information systems.

Jon’s looking forwards to 2011. “HongKong has several very active local communities, for example BootHK, WebWednesday etc. Probably in about 6 months, we will have an incubator in HK and the local startups environment will be definitely got boosted again!” Jon said.

Dr. Gang Lu - Founder of TechNode. He's a Blogger, a Geek, a PhD and a Speaker, with passion in Tech, Internet and R'N'R.

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