5 Questions With Jono Lilley and Fiona Atkinson, Co-Founders of Colony88.com


There are many intelligent and potentially huge startups in Hong Kong, but they have been restricted to grow and move up by the lack of funding currently available by angel investors locally.

Two new entrepreneurs from the banking world believe that those strong companies deserve an opportunity to grow, to develop and succeed. Therefore, Colony88 is born by this conviction. We spoke to Jono Lilley and Fiona Atkinson, to learn more from their start-up and how they are helping other startups to raise money here in Hong Kong.

What is your startup?

Colony88 is an exciting new equity funding platform connecting investors with aspiring new businesses.
investors are able to discover, fund and support businesses that they believe in.
Our aim is to make investing in startups more accessible to the mass affluent of Hong Kong, and ultimately Asia. Over the last few years we have continually heard that individuals are looking for alternative investment opportunities outside of the just real estate and the stock market. When combining this with the growing startup community in Hong Kong, and the renewed enthusiasm for innovation, it seemed a perfect time to bring a platform that could support both the startup and investor.

How did you come up with this idea?

The model of crowdfunding is not a new one, and has been around for centuries. Of note the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds in 1884, and required a creative newspaper publisher to appeal to the American people for financial support. Over the last 5 years, sites such as Kickstarter in the US have become popular by allowing individuals the opportunity to promote their project (it could be making a film, getting their school sports team a new kit, or large scale development of a new media watch) in exchange for rewards. As has been the case in Europe, we have taken this model a step further, and introduced the notion of receiving equity in return for you financial contribution. The wealth in Asia is hard to avoid, and we see no reason why individuals shouldn’t be given the opportunity to channel some of their wealth into young companies that they believe in, and who are in need of finance.

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

Our initial focus is on the Hong Kong market, and with over 500,000 people with liquid assets over HK$1mln , it is a great testing ground to see how receptive people will be to this model of investing and fundraising. Ultimately we are targeting the growing middle class in Asia, of whom there are now over 525miliion in Asia. That’s more than the entire population of the EU.

Also, given that mainland China (including Hong Kong) has just overtaken the US as the world’s largest market for art and antiques, we know it is a market receptive to alternative investments.


What are your future plans for your startup?

We’re really excited to have just launched the first company on our platform; QVIVO. They’re a very slick media cloud company that allows you to access your movies, TV shows and music anytime, anywhere. Once you drag and drop your files into the cloud you can start watching on your tablet, pause it, then resume on your smartphone when in a cab. You have unlimited storage capacity, so are not constrained by data storage as you might be with other cloud storage companies such as Dropbox. As you can tell, we’re pretty happy to be part of QVIVO’s fundraise. We also continue to support other HK companies, and intend to support many future fundraises. After HK is established we intend to roll out the model across Asia.


1 Benefit and 1 Challenge in the HK startup scene?

A benefit of the HK startup scene is that people within the community have been amazingly willing to give up their time to provide advice and input. Having previously come from banking backgrounds we thought people would always ask ‘what’s in it for me’, but the HK startup scene time and again has demonstrated this doesn’t have to be the case, and what goes around will come around.
A challenge within the startup scene has been how to decide which events we don’t have time to go to. There has been a fantastic expansion in the depth of offerings available, so that if you wanted to you could go to a different startup event every night.
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