How I Gained Profitability and a Global Customer Base with No Outside Funding

In my entrepreneurial journey, Riotly Social gained profitability on day 1, achieved a global customer base, and helped over 1,000 customers. Here are some of the key insights I learned in my first 365 days as an entrepreneur:

1. Find problems not unique to Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an amazing city, but also too small to create a scalable global business. Many cultural and economic dynamics are unique only to Hong Kong and a handful of cities globally. These factors greatly limit the kinds of businesses that can scale and succeed beyond Hong Kong. If I find a problem, I try to validate that other countries have the same problem and are willing to pay for it. Social media is a tool that many businesses and people use to grow. We focus on this at Riotly.

2. B2B in Hong Kong is an easier road than B2C
The allure of B2C attracted me initially to entrepreneurship, but B2C companies are challenged if the population of the country is relatively small. Hong Kong’s population limits the growth of any B2C venture. If you look at Hong Kong startups that have achieved early success (Handy, Klook, Shopline, EZtable, Lalamove) all of them do not focus solely on Hong Kong and/or have a B2B element.

I am not saying that focusing on B2C in Hong Kong will make you unsuccessful, but you are stacking the dice against you. At Riotly we focus on the US, Australia and European market, with Hong Kong being our 5th largest market.

3. Target a specific niche that you can dominate with your product.
I find being targeted and focused allows you to be easily understood when you are pitching to clients or investors. At Riotly, we focus on e-commerce companies that leverage social media for sales.

4. Sexy ideas may not solve problems, but the boring stuff is what people are willing to pay for.
Sexy ideas may not solve problems, and can sometimes distract you from whether you have a true business or not. I find that focusing on the problems and whether people will pay to solve those problems are keys to finding a successful business model. At Riotly, we found that social media is important for many businesses now.

5. Choose big markets and upcoming trends on the horizon
It is absolutely important to choose big markets, with a big trend on the horizon such as machine learning, bitcoin and Chatbots. The key is to figure out what those big trends are that will make substantial changes in specific industries. At Riotly, we focus on chat technology and machine learning to tackle more complex problems.

About the Author

Ho Yin Cheung is a SaaS entrepreneur who grew his company from zero to 14 people in one year and with a 20% monthly growth rate. His love for social media and technology allowed him to create Riotly Social Media, a software company that uses social media big data and machine learning to help companies find and reach out to their target audience online.

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