5 Questions With Anthony Lance, Co-Founder of PhatRice.com

Matt and Anthony
(Anthony Lance and Matt Davies)

After studying Chinese language and culture for many years, PhatRice.com co-founder Anthony Lance got his Masters in Chinese Studies. Armed with a fluency in Mandarin, Anthony helped an American company grow their business in the Greater China region, which was acquired by a Fortune 100 company after four years of exponential growth.

In 2013, his colleague and co-founder Matt Davies, who is a branding expert, began thinking of building a Hong Kong startup that could positively impact the social and environmental challenges faced by local communities. Since Anthony and Matt are both well-versed in the sales and marketing space, they saw an opportunity to help social initiatives take their development projects to the next level.

What is your startup?

PhatRice is an online e-commerce platform that finds, features, promotes and sells products with an inspirational story. Whether rescuing women from human trafficking, giving people a second or giving our environment a second chance, these products make a real difference, which is why PhatRice is creating a community of like-minded people all over the world.

How did you come up with this idea?

Anthony spent two summers in Yunnan province working with a company that was helping local minority groups to find markets for their hand made products. Without support, it was clear that these artisans would be swept away by the Chinese economic boom, but by telling their story they were able to find a market for their products after all. The memories of those individuals and the incredible impact that the business had in their communities had a lasting impact on Anthony. Both Matt and Anthony have spent the last 7 years doing sales and marketing all over Asia, and they quickly realized that the same scenario was true for thousands of local initiatives.


Who are you targeting and how big is the market in HK/Asia?

The target market consumer is a conscious buyer, of which we break down into three categories: Ringleaders, Bleeding Hearts, and Happy-Go-Lucky. These individuals are made up of about 70% women. Conscious buyers, although growing at a startling pace, still remain the minority, so it will be important for PhatRice to expand the platform into other Asian markets very quickly. The model has been set up in such a way that allows for high scalability, allowing us to tap into numerous markets while still being based in Hong Kong.

What are your future plans for your startup?

In phase one, PhatRice will focus on the B2C business driving more and more inspired users to engage with the platform and buy products. The team plans to also launch in Taiwan before the end of the year and then look at Indonesia or China for 2015. In phase two, the team plans to develop a specialized B2B platform for corporate orders, or for bricks and mortar retailers who are looking to do special retail features with products that have a powerful story.

1 Benefit and 1 Challenge in the HK startup scene?

Hong Kong is an incredible place for networking. There are events every night of the week and it seems like everyone somehow knows everyone else, making it easy to find advisors and team members. There is also a good community of highly skilled people who are willing to help out in their free time.

Although Hong Kong has an incredible amount of talent in many different areas, the biggest challenge that we ran into was finding good web coders. It became apparent to us early on that there were very few individuals in Hong Kong who knew how to code in modern language. In the end we had to hire overseas freelance coders to develop the platform.

Anthony Lance on Startbase.HK: Anthony Lance

PhatRice.com on Startbase.HK: PhatRice.com

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