HK Got Talent: An Event Overview Featuring the Founders of Recently Exited Hong Kong Startups Divide and Cherrypicks

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Internet Society Hong Kong hosted ‘HK Got Talent’ yesterday – an evening of keynotes and panel discussion on the elements of building a successful startup.

As we celebrated almost back-to-back exits of home-grown startups Divide (sold to Google) and Cherrypicks (mobile business sold to NetDragon for HK $236.5 million), we can’t help but feel a sense of pride for our growing tech startup scene.

The panel had keynote speakers Jason Chiu of Cherrypicks, David Zhu of Divide, Raymond Yip of Shopline, Ross Milward of Quantifeed and Leo Wong of Sensbeat contribute to a free-flow discussion. Topics ranged from the reasons why these founders chose entrepreneurship and what they think of engaging in projects outside of their startups.

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As for Jason’s keynote, he mapped out all the moments of inspiration in his life leading up to the acquisition of his 15-year-old company, starting with his childhood. As an active maker at a young age, particularly with Gundam models, Jason realized that he loved the process of building something from nothing – and that grew into a passion for tech entrepreneurship. “In university, I realized the best way to institute movement and change is through technology. I thought – I might be a student, but just one thing can change the world.”

Now as the founder of a successful tech company that just exited its mobile business for millions of dollars, Jason learned that despite the world-changing power of technology – it’s the customer that really matters.

“We’re in technology, but it’s never just about technology – it’s always about the user experience and creativity,” he said. “And it’s particularly true in the era of smartphones and user wearables.” Realizing that the user experience is controlled by the five senses, Jason steered his company into working with technology that focused on these methods of perception – and Cherrypicks was one of the early companies that went into the augmented reality space.

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Looking forward, Jason believes that exiting the Cherrypicks mobile unit will better equip his company, as they now have more resources standing on the shoulders of an Internet giant. While in the past, Cherrypicks has ‘gone corporate’ by investing in startups, Jason said that they’re looking to go into angel investment as they’re now more financially capable.

To the disappointment of the crowd, David kept the details from the acquisition on the low, but could barely contain his excitement of the future ahead – as the Divide team will now be able to build their product up on epic Google levels.

In his keynote, he first looked back on when Divide first started, with co-founders Andrew Toy in New York and Alex Trewby in London while he was in Hong Kong.

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“We were international from day one, which I don’t recommend for people just starting out. But since we were in enterprise, it was an advantage because we looked global to our customers,” he said. “Hong Kong still remains our largest office by headcount and all of our engineering and R&D is in Hong Kong.”

In building the team for his Hong Kong office, David remembers back in March of 2010 when 100% of recruited talent was from HKUST. Although many founders often cite lack of talent as a challenge in Hong Kong, David puts the onus on the startups themselves.

“Hong Kong absolutely has talent, but I would say its untapped talent. The challenge for us is whether we are inspiring, motivating and encouraging these people to choose a career in entrepreneurship,” he said. “To not take the conventional, status quo path, to take a chance to do something on their own and just go for it.”

While David’s still keeping mum about his Google deal, we’ll do an update with him as soon as he’s able to announce more details. Stay tuned!

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