5 Questions with Michael Gasiorek of Shophop HK


Michael Gasiorek believes that shopping in Hong Kong can be an exciting adventure – so after Startup Weekend HK, Michael, Duffy, Hesperus, and Olga founded Shophop. The long pitch? It’s an international fashion GPS for trend-loving travelers that transforms the latest recommendations from local fashion lovers into point-by-point map trails of the region’s best shopping. Simply: it’s like an expert-led boutique “bar crawl.”

Michael is a Polish-born, US-educated, Asia-based lifetime student of business and tech with a love for connecting people and helping them pursue their passions. He’s currently Director of Startup Grind and DrinkEntrepreneurs in Shenzhen, curator of StartupDigest Shenzhen, Startup Coach at NEU IDEA Boston-based incubator, and remotely finishing up his degree at Northeastern University in Boston.

We sit down with Michael and ask him more about his startup:

How did you come up with this idea?
Hong Kong small businesses fight with high rent, huge competition, and major brand players for space and eyes. We wanted to use mobile technology to give the little guys a chance and get people to dig into what is authentically Hong Kong, past this glossy later of big-sticker consumerism. From augmented reality shop discovery to TripAdvisor for Fashion, we’ve had a lots of dead ends and lots of pivots.

The first one was at Startup Weekend HK – November 2012, shopping discovery in clustered HK market with augmented reality. “Matchmaker for Tastemakers” – what a terribly vague tagline. We switched our solution and our market pretty quickly.

The second one was in February 2013, curated user-generated shopping trails with emphasis on social gamification for HK market. “Mobile platform for social fashion discovery” – it’s like we tried to stuff everything in there! We got great advice from mentors to get simple, focus on a single solution for a single audience that’s willing to pay.

Finally by June 2013, we’re a mobile fashion guide for English & Chinese travelers. We let you create and follow your friend’s shopping trips across Asia, and we feed in content from local fashion influencers and writers to make higher-end guides for regional favorites like kimonos in Japan, tailoring in China, or vintage in Hong Kong.

We’re still early in the journey, but things are starting to fall into place and beta signups are getting pretty hot. We’ll do our best learning once we open it up to feedback, but the idea will always be changing. That’s the fun part. Through it all, our team has been amazingly dedicated, level-headed, and just fun to work with.


Who are the target audience and how big is the market in HK/Asia?
Fashion-loving travelers (and locals) interest in the latest local trends without the time demanded to get informed on where to shop. They shop as a hobby, and want to enter stores representative of the culture while exploring the region.

Cross-border spending within HK is 9th highest worldwide, with Bangkok in 1st, Singapore in 4th, Dubai in 7th, Kuala Lumpur in 8th – followed by 5 more Asian cities in the top 20, all with great smartphone adoption rates, booming retail growth, and rising internal disposable income. The market is BIG – because we’re not focused on one location, but on bridging them.

Cross-border spending in the top 8 Asian countries is an $84.5B market comprised of 71.28M overnight travelers per year, with 8.7M in HK in 2013.

What are the future plans for Shophop HK?
Launching closed beta soon, attracting Asian bloggers, fashion writers, designers, and celebrities to help build the first shopping trails. If you’ve got a following, we’ll want to talk! We want to launch with a strong listing of what’s available locally, then move into other regions of Asia once we find the right model: how do we feed in credible content, attract and retain users, and actually get feet into stores most quickly and effectively?

1 Benefit and 1 Challenge in the HK startup scene?
Benefit: Excellent regional symbiosis with other markets – Hong Kong brings it all together.

Challenge: Small market size makes any product difficult to base in HK alone, forces startups to think at scale – to their gain!

Any news stories about Shophop HK?


ShopHop Feature Shot

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