From where I sit, Hong Kong has already been crowned a new role and is well on its way to becoming a very important city for product design and manufacturing.
In recent years, I believe two world trends have converged to lead to this situation:
- The Maker Movement: Breeding a new generation of DIY makers and inventors
- The Rise of Crowdfunding: Allowing small teams to bypass not just the traditional fundraising exercise, but to also allow them to test the market early and prove their product’s demand to potential distributors, retailers and licensees
This brings tantalising possibilities but also a new set of pitfalls. Easy means of prototyping and crowdfunding led entrepreneurs to believe they can prove a concept by getting funded, and then call China to manufacture their products. Unfortunately, factories measure success in production volume because they make money based on a percentage of the goods produced. This means that a low-tech US$10 iPhone case is much more attractive to factories than a ground-breaking US$200 smart watch. The result is that early crowdfunding success are often plagued with delivery challenges, often leading to the project’s delay or even failure.
This is why more innovators are choosing to set up shop in Hong Kong given its well established legal and IP landscape, knowledgeable and ethical workforce, and close proximity to the factories in China. Having just a small team, or even just one individual managing global markets and factories in China can really speed up iteration cycles, reduce risks and miscommunication, as well as raise the overall production quality of the manufactured goods.
My own campaign is a testimony to this growing trend. We are preparing an Indiegogo launch on May 6th and it is a huge advantage to run it from Hong Kong. The ecosystem is already taking shape and I am getting all the help I need by being ideally situated in this location. For example, I work with IoT accelerator Brinc to line up investors, factories and distributors; designers Alan and Andrea to come up with world-class design at Hong Kong speed; and my buddy Conrad who is a veteran in manufacturing to ensure these designs get faithfully realised by the factories. All of these factors have allowed me to rapidly test and improve our offering even as we near our launch date. This is an often overlooked yet significant factor in today’s MVP (Minimum Viable Product), Lean Startup world.
From where I sit, I can see that Hong Kong will get some much-needed diversity from traditional industries. With a flourishing ecosystem and supportive government, Hong Kong will have an important place in the next wave of entrepreneurship.
By Paul Lee, CEO of Aumeo Audio