RISE is Not Just a Tech Conference; it’s All About the Networking on the Ferry, Yum Cha and More!


Isn’t a technology conference featuring ‘startups’ also just listening to seminars or exchanging a few name cards?

Having chatted with Casey Lau, Head of Asia of RISE, we realised that RISE is not only constrained to the exhibition space and that it will bring the hype all over the community – a number of co-working spaces, on the ferry and even in a car. Startups can exchange intelligence and network even during karaoke or yum cha.

Such an exhibition sounds very interesting!

Aiming to facilitate the interaction and communication among exceptional startups, investors, and global media, RISE is an international startup event organised by an Irish team named Web Summit. Now in its third year, RISE is building on its previous successes and expecting 15,000 attendees to join this year. RISE is undoubtedly this year’s most well-known and anticipated startup event in Hong Kong.


Casey concluded three points when asked about the major differences between RISE and other startup events in Asia. “First of all, our team gives great attention to detail, from measuring lanyard strings to using data analytics to pair up startups. This is the amazing experience that makes everyone feel welcomed. Secondly, we have various activities around the clock to maximise fun and networking opportunities for every attendee, making the trip all the way to Hong Kong worthwhile,” he said.

He is most proud about the last point, “thirdly, RISE has created a unique sense of community in Hong Kong. We welcome attendees from Europe, the US, Australia and all over Asia – I even had an African founder come up to me last year to thank me for hosting the best conference he’s ever been to! That is really encouraging to be able to put together a conference that is not only for business but also to build long-term relationships and that people don’t want to end!”

Another event highlight is about RISE’s programme variety. For instance, there will be a pitching event on Tesla and Star Ferry, as well as Startup Karaoke and Startup Yum Cha which amplify the Hong Kong element. “We wanted to make sure that both the Irish style and the Hong Kong style met together for RISE to give it a very distinct flavour. So having a harbour tour on the Star Ferry is an easy thing to put together so that our guests are able to enjoy the harbour view. The Tesla pitching event came about because Hong Kong has the most Tesla’s per capita in the world and having a drive in one of them is every tech entrepreneur’s dream – so to make it even more exciting let’s throw in an investor and take them on a ride around the beautiful sights of Hong Kong,” he added.

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The organizer will also hold events in many local co-working spaces. “Many people are shocked to find out that Hong Kong alone has 75 co-workspaces across the city and many of them are of world-class calibre. RISE is the best avenue to promote this globally, as many startups and investors are starting to open offices in Hong Kong and make it their hub for business in the region.”

Tips to attract investors: Tell a story vividly
Certainly regardless how fun the exhibition is, attendees who have paid to enter RISE would crave for concrete support to startups and opportunities to attract investors. Casey added that this is the major reason to organise RISE.

With regards to the knack to win investors’ attention, he deemed that exceptional presentation skill is only a part of it. The most important part for startups is to recount a story vividly. “We all love movies and TV shows and even video games – they all tell a story, now startups need to take that and weave it into the story of their business. They need drama, comedy, passion and an exciting ending to make people want to invest or partner with them. The art of pitching is as important as the business itself.”


Competition among cities, we all want to be the ‘new silicon valley’

Having travelled to Tokyo, Taipei, Singapore and Hong Kong to organise “Runway to RISE” events, Casey revealed that they are planning to expand to over 30 cities for RISE 2018. He has been working with the Hong Kong startup ecosystem for over 7 years now with StartupsHK. Looking back at how much it has grown over this time, he deems that it is just incredible. In spite of his positivity, he still harbours some concerns.


“Hong Kong has its advantages and disadvantages over other cities, but every city is catching up in different ways, from government financial support to lower taxes to trade agreements with bigger countries – soon HK will lose its advantage if it doesn’t remain competitive. I hope it does. We spent a lot of time building it to where it is today but every city in the region wants to be the ‘new Silicon Valley’ and is putting their money where their mouth is more so than Hong Kong. I sincerely hope with the new administration starting that this is a high priority on their ‘to-do’ list,” he said.

RISE co-hosts Paddy Cosgrave (left) and Casey Lau (right)

RISE co-hosts Paddy Cosgrave (left) and Casey Lau (right)

Original Story by hk01 and translated by FleishmanHillard Hong Kong

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