EYE stands for Empowering Young Entrepreneurs, it’s a joint program from Google HK and Chinese University of Hong Kong to help students and young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong to innovate and thrive in the startup scene in Hong Kong.
The program started off with 900 applicants back in January and somehow I managed to get myself in a rather fortunate position to be amongst one of the 6 winning teams to go to Google HQ in Mountain View, I’m a self confessed geek and I’ve never been to the states, so needless to say, this was extremely exciting and rewarding.
1. Reading/Hearing, Understanding, Accepting, Doing and Succeeding are all very different.
It’s so much easier being an armchair wantrepreneur, someone just sits on a nice comfy armchair and read all best selling books on businesses, management and entrepreneurship but never actually get off their lazy behind to start making something.
Reading Lean Startup might mean know what MVP stands for, but it doesn’t mean you understand it. Are you flicking through the pages, or are you understanding the message and jotting notes in the margin? I can listen to someone speak Japanese, but i wouldn’t have a clue what they are say.
Even when you understand a concept, have you spent the time to think for yourself if it works for you, don’t just follow someone blindly. Then there’s the interesting part in my eyes, the Doing. Getting your
you can read all the very best of business and management books, you can even understand all the principle for an amazing MVP product. but the question is, does that until you start getting your hands dirty, would you
No one really talks about what they are planning to do, they are always I’m DOING. I gotta get my ass in gear. At very least move faster.
2. Humour is very important, specially in presentations
During our trip, we went to a number of talks and it became very clear to me, the best speakers and presenters are those that can add a touch of humour to their stories, it makes its more fun, memorable and the group is less likely to fall asleep. Although I’m not a music person, my favourite was visiting Smule and hearing from Jeff Smith on their founding story, mixing just the right balance of insight, struggle, knowledge and humour. Speaking in public has never been easy for me, this is something I really need to work on.
3. Hong Kong really isn’t that far behind Silicon Valley
This is perhaps the biggest surprise to me, chatting to people in SV doesn’t feel that different to chatting to fellow entrepreneurs and startup teams in Hong Kong. We chatted about similar topics and everyone is just as open. Thinking back to 2011 on when I first joined the Startup co-working space Cocoon, I don’t think everyone were as eager to share, everyone was scared their brilliant idea would be stolen, luckily that has changed over the years as we realised if they were to develop good products and businesses, they have to chat with other people (Side note: the reason for not wanting to chat about your idea went from “they might steal it” to “it might be dumb”)
There’s no denying their ecosystem is much much more mature than what we have in Hong Kong, I’ve heard it’s easier to get funding in the states than Hong Kong, as far as I’m aware it’s easiER and not actually easy, no investor would ever throw money at you begging you to take it, you still have to work you back off for it. The energy level for startup scene is also amazingly impressive in Silicon Valley, there’s respect to those in working in startups, fighting their way to build something meaningful, something which isn’t really as obvious in Hong Kong, but from what I’ve seen so far in the Hong Kong startup scene, I trust it will change.
4. The importance of surrounding yourself with like minded people
Only entrepreneurs would truly understand how hard it is One of the biggest outcome for me in this trip is getting to know a group of amazing budding entrepreneurs. These are smart people willing to work hard toward their dreams. The support has been phenomenal, Google EYE may have started out as competition, but that was definitely no longer the case when we got to MTV. There’s an unspoken bond amongst everyone because we understand the struggle we all had to get through to have what we have now and it felt amazing, if someone overheard someone chatting about a problem that they have encountered before they would happily jump in to share their experience, suggest ideas and technical information. The group felt incredibly alive.
Needless to say your team is just as important, on the night before we had to pitch to SV investors, the entire Myflat.hk/Around team (Matt, Antony, Copland, Eric and our Mentor Alex) worked until 5am in the morning to get our slides ready, it was hard work, but having a team like that, being able to talk about every detail openly is extremely valuable. I’m proud of being part of this team and what we have done so far, this has been an incredible journey and the nerve racking/exciting thing is, it’s only the beginning.
5. This is not a race, it is not a zero sum game
If I ask you which would you pay more money for? A jacket or antibiotics, what would you say? Well the answer should be it depends, am I cold or am I ill and in need of antibiotics? That’s exactly how businesses should be perceived, what each startup is doing should not be used to measure the success of another. Even if we are all looking for investors, it still doesn’t mean we are competing, because an investor who is willing to put money in a Augmented Reality startup would most likely not be suitable for your Entertainment booking startup.
The likes of GoGoVan and Divide has done incredibly well but there really is no point in being jealous of them, so there really is no point in being jealous. Instead, I would advice you to think in terms of abundance, think if they can do it, I can too. There are so much resource out there, get out there and get your share.
6. There is no going back
The startup word to me is a bit like realising what chocolate chip ice-cream taste like for the very first time, once you know what wonderful it is, it’s rather difficult to forget. Too much of it can make you feel extremely ill and begging to have it kept away from you, but eventually you know you would want more.
I love building and creating things, I enjoy the creation process so much, working in a startup seems to be the ideal way for me to vent that energy. It definitely is not without pain, when the stress gets to me, when time and money becomes extremely tight I do wonder why I put myself in such a position, but at the end of the day, I know I can’t escape from this world. If I ever have to go back to the “real world” I know I will have to eventually come back.
This is where I belong and this program has shown me I am not the only one crazy enough to think so.
Overall, what an incredible trip, thank you everyone: Betty and [email protected] HK, Sharon, Serena and [email protected]CUHK, [email protected]Hita, Edward and [email protected], Xania and Mary @Jobdoh, [email protected], Alex and [email protected] and of course all the ever generous mentors and friends in media. Thank you for a trip to remember.