Founder to Founder: Shopline Shares Startup Story with Asia Venture Club [AUDIO]


Introducing Dennis Grady, founder of Asia Venture Club – a new member to the StartupsHK community. Dennis publishes a podcast on startups and entrepreneurship and we are happy to have him as one of our new ongoing columnists. His first piece delves into his interview with Raymond Yip of Shopline.

Raymond Yip got a $50HK gift from his boss on his 10 year anniversary at Citibank. His entire team had been fired and he was unfulfilled with the work he was responsible for doing. It was time for him to jump ship. He had been working on his own side development projects which helped to create a bridge for him to transition out and a way to assess market needs and thats how Shopline was born.

Shopline is a DIY e-commerce platform built specifically for Asian markets.  They have a top tier team and have built a big presence in a short time with over 16000 customers already on the platform (thats just in HK and Taiwan).  They are a mobile ready platform that allows small and mid-sized businesses to manage their own online stores on the go.

Leveraging their networking skills they were able to get a meeting with Rui Ma from 500 Startups – he tells us how they turned that meeting into an investment. Raymond gives some good advice and insights about applying for an accelerator like 500 Startups and how his team approached it.

Key Learning Points:

  • A major pivot came from the Shopline team going door to door at the local mall talking to shop owners to validate the need for their solution.
  • They are not recreating the wheel, they are applying a proven business model in a new market.
  • Asia ecommerce is potentially 8-10 years behind the west which creates tons of opportunity, but the market is coming up to speed quickly.
  • Many west focused players in the market have now overcome the globalization hurdles and tapped into these markets as well.
  • Connecting with co-founders, Tony and Fiona was a stroke of luck but was vital in building a great team to accomplish their goals.
  • His corporate career on wall street gave him a platform to develop better people skills, develop his self confidence and presentation skills that have allowed him to present himself in a credible manner.  These communication skills have been important in hiring talent and raising capital.
  • When pitching – you need to believe, you need to keep your cool and be confident. At the end of the day you are sales person at that point and you are selling your team and its ability to deliver what you say you will deliver. You are not begging for money, do not take that approach.
  • As a founder you are in a sales role on a regular basis; to hire talent, raise money, sign clients, sign partners – so not matter what, be sure to develop your sales skills.
  • Hiring Hack – attending job fairs, lots of networking and meeting people at local events.
  • Focus on the near term successes like making sales, getting clients, building a team and don’t get preoccupied by long term financial goals and exits…stay focus on the next immediate step.

Dennis Grady (@AsiaVentureCLub) is the founder of Asia Venture Club – see his profile on

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