ASIA , AND BEYOND
In China, the START-UP scene is soaring thanks to cutting-edge TECH and VENTURE CAPITAL. And, one city is attracting overseas ENTREPRENEURS – for business and pleasure.
When you go to China, you need to really expand your worldview, be open, lift your head out of your phone or emails and breathe China in,” says Andrew Logan, CEO of agtech company OneCrop. “Depending on which city you’re in, try to go to the industrial areas, catch public transport and eat local. The worst mistake you can make is to go to China, hang around your hotel, get a driver to take you to your meetings, and spend the whole time looking at Twitter.”
In the past two years, the agriculture start-up – which aims to make the farming process more environmentally sustainable with innovative products – has successfully expanded into China with “a mix of good luck, hard work and strong relationships”. Oh, and an active WeChat account (the country’s most popular messaging app, which helpfully comes with a translation tool).
“Without a WeChat profile you’re a non-person in China,” says Andrew. “It’s normal to sit at lunch with someone and have a conversation over WeChat using the translator. If you’re open and aware, you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you’ll encounter and how willing people are to help you.”
They’re not the only start-up to be drawn to Asia. The Chinese start-up scene is now stronger than ever, with cutting-edge technology, a rise in venture capitalists and a new throng of unicorn companies created every year. Whereas founders used to be obsessed with breaking America, now the ‘middle kingdom’ is becoming more appealing with accelerator programs such as Chinaccelerator helping foreign start-ups to prosper.
It’s also growing ever more popular as a downtime retreat for artists, creatives, style-makers, thought-leaders, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. Basically, anyone who’s attracted by the rich culture, iconic skylines, protected nature and thriving tech scene. And, there’s one place proving particularly popular: Hong Kong.
Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways employs 20,000 people in its home city, making the company one of Hong Kong’s biggest employers. Today, it offers 70 flights a week from six ports across Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Cairns – to over 200 destinations globally across Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
And, they say Hong Kong’s attracting a (very!) innovative crowd. In particular, professionals are using the city as a stopover on their way to Europe and North America – the perfect place to mix business and pleasure.
“I’ve noticed that there are more and more young travellers onboard who definitely come across as young entrepreneurs travelling for business,” says Cathay Pacific cabin crew member Elodie Lee. “They are young and chic, but look extremely professional, and are always working away on their laptops during the flight.”
The airline currently offers wi-fi onboard all of their new A350-900
HONG KONG is such a GREAT city and has so much to offer – sightseeing, shopping, AMAZING FOOD and a vibrant nightlife.
and A350-1000 aircraft, with the service to be rolled out across their entire fleet. There are also power points and USB ports at every seat.
As Elodie explains, “Hong Kong is such a great city and has so much to offer – sightseeing, shopping, amazing food and a vibrant nightlife. In addition, English is commonly spoken in Hong Kong, making it an extremely traveller-friendly city to visit, whether you’re stopping over for a couple of days or only have a few hours during a transit.” According to reports, East Asia is winning over entrepreneurs – via their wallets! In Hong Kong, the average cost of living is US$2800 a month (far cheaper than Silicon Valley’s US$5211), the average co-working space is just US$255 per month, and a cup of coffee is US$4.30. Oh, and the internet runs at a speedy 38mbps. In Shanghai, it’s only 7mbps.
In September, 2018, Cathay Pacific Airways launched their first direct service from Washington DC to Hong Kong which, at 13,120km (8153 miles), is their longest ever route. It’s expected to entice American and Asian entrepreneurs to mingle more than ever.
“There are plenty of amazing things to see and do in this city,” says Elodie. >
“Hop on the Airport Express train and you’ll reach Central in 24 minutes. Enjoy a short walk to the Sheung Wan area and marvel at the unique atmosphere, where old vintage buildings meet modern skyscrapers. Meanwhile, Cat Street has antique stores and cute cafés to explore.”
But, what about ‘bleisure’ activities in the city? In 2018, Sankar Narayan, Xero’s chief operating and financial officer was a keynote speaker at the RISE Summit in Hong Kong, the largest tech conference in Asia, which returns in July, 2019. Other speakers in 2018 included Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft Corporation, and Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.
On Meetup, there’s no shortage of events geared towards entrepreneurs, as well as anyone who wants to learn about
Visit CHINA the same way you would visit a FRIEND’S HOME. Show RESPECT. Take notice of the way things are done. Bring small GIFTS where appropriate.
Chinese business culture or simply be inspired. The global network Startup Grind hosts monthly workshops and fireside chats for its 3374 Hong Kongbased group members.
As OneCrop discovered, the secret to exploring Hong Kong is true immersion. According to Andrew, networking in China is about three things – having a solid proposition, being prepared to give it time, being respectful and making an effort with the language.
“Networking is a series of small steps in building a friendship, often done over tea and food,” he says. “Forget your master-of-theuniverse Australian approach of having eight fast meetings a day. In China, two or maybe three meetings are plenty.”
For inspiration, Andrew heads to the industrial areas of town. “By going to the factory areas, the trading precincts and the local eating houses, you start to feel what China is all about – and that’s when the best ideas hit. Go to China, make time to walk around and be a local,” he says.
The expanding start-up created a product specifically for the market. “If you want to break in, you need to build something for China,” he says. “China can’t be your second market. We’ve built our product to exactly match existing Chinese specs and it’s tailored for the climate. It addresses a uniquely Chinese problem. So it’s natural for buyers to choose our product.”
Whether you book a flight for work or purely play, Andrew has some advice. “Visit China the same way you would visit a friend’s home. Show respect. Take notice of the way things are done. Bring small gifts where appropriate. Ask for advice. Ask for help. Demonstrate your idea quietly, and humbly ask for feedback. Enjoy eating with your hosts. Listen carefully. If you go to China thinking you’ll impose an idea on your customers through the sheer force of your personality and the brilliance of your concept, get ready to go home empty-handed.”
Book now and take advantage of Cathay Pacific’s Earlybird 2019 Sale, with great offers to over 20 popular destinations across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Israel, including their newest USA destinations Washington, DC and Seattle (commencing on March 31, 2019). For more information, visit cathaypacific.com.au