IoT and Wearables Firmly on the Hong Kong Agenda
April 13, 2016: Wearable IoT World launched its first Asia Wearable Wednesday event at KPMG’s Hub at Hysan Place in Hong Kong. Wearable IoT World (WIoTW) Labs is the world’s first accelerator focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables and emerging technologies. Based in San Francisco, WIoTW formed a partnership with Radiant Venture Capital (RVC) in January to launch the US-Pan Asia IoT Superhighway Accelerator. RVC led the funding for this initiative, which closed a round of USD4.5 million to focus on driving IoT innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong.
The event was attended by a combination of startup founders, investors and members of the public curious about the IoT. To a packed house, after a brief introduction from Neil Vineberg an MD at WIoTW, Redg Snodgrass, CEO and Co-Founder of WIoTW led a “fireside chat” with Yobie Benjamin, ex-Global Head of IT at Citibank, and startup founder, investor and mentor extraordinaire.
Mr Benjamin wears many hats, including CTO of Token.io providing digital-era payment software to banks, but he is also a senior level advisor to a number of different innovative companies. One of these, AstroDigital.com, builds and launches satellites. He was particularly excited about the power of connectivity that their satellites will bring. For example, with access to over 20 billion IP addresses, they could monitor and prevent the spread of disease, or pinpoint guilty polluters by identifying where pollution emanates from.
As a startup mentor and advisor, Mr Benjamin has helped raise over USD1 billion. He had a few key messages for entrepreneurs. Perhaps the most crucial was that your company should solve big problems – if you are not solving problems for a billion people, then investors are unlikely to be interested. Second, the importance of properly structuring funding deals, of carefully understanding term sheets and the legal side of things. Third, when fundraising, being prepared to ask lots of investors and to “ask often”. Fourth, be prepared and flexible about changing your business model.
In the second part of the proceedings, Duncan Chiu, MD of RVC and Anson Bailey, Principal, Business Development from KPMG China, joined the chat for a panel discussion. Key topics were how to access Wearable and IoT investment in Hong Kong, what investors look for in founding teams, and how to be a globally focused startup.
A view emerged from the conversation that Hong Kong startups need to position their products for a global market to be globally relevant. The WIoTW Lab will give participants this sort of exposure. At the same time, Mr Bailey highlighted the significance of growing consumer demand in China and the North Asia region. Consensus was that U.S. investors tend to think about products in particular; Asian investors and entrepreneurs tend to think more in terms of systems and how things fit together. Therefore, when engaging with investors from different parts of the world, it is essential as a startup to contextualize your pitch for the audience.
To wrap things up, the panel highlighted what they felt were the most important components they looked for in founding teams: empathy with customers, passion and positive thinking about innovation and investing, an ability to tell your story, having a clearly thought-out business plan with financials that make sense, and deep expertise in both technology and business.
According to WIoTW’s advisory arm, IoT is projected to be a USD 4 trillion marketplace by 2020. It is transforming every angle of our lives and the opportunities for entrepreneurs are significant. The Hong Kong WIoTW Lab will start its first class at Cyberport on May 17th and the application process is open.
Wearable IoT World
Founded in May 2013 in San Francisco, WIoTW started as an innovation hub, leading the world’s first accelerator for IoT, wearables and emerging technologies. It expanded its services to include customized accelerator and advisory programs that develop startup innovation and culture within a corporate environment. Serving the IoT and wearables community with advisory services, publishing services, and conference organization, their goal is to become the instrumental leader and driving force in IoT innovation for brands, businesses, government and bright minds. Their business model uniquely blends the best of venture acceleration, entrepreneurial mentorship, corporate strategic partnerships, and media into one thriving community.
Radiant Venture Capital
Based in Hong Kong, Radiant Venture Capital focuses on bringing investment to and partnering with local and overseas entrepreneurs, who seek to create, improve or utilize best-in-class technologies in building successful businesses that brighten the lives of people. Leveraging the experiences and networks of their partners and advisors, RVC aims to support the development of seed and early stage startups for which technology is a key driver of their competitive advantages. Their focus is on Israel and Greater China, but they do also invest in companies in the rest of the world.