StartmeupHKFestival 2020: Lifestyle Tech Conference

 Living Life with Style


Bernard Chan, Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, started off the Lifestyle Tech Conference. Describing Hong Kong as a perfect stage for startups and an ideal testing ground for startups to expand and scale up, he  stressed that ‘Hong Kong will be welcoming to you all. We are very much open for business.’



With that the Lifestyle Tech Conference which was arranged in conjunction with Jumpstarter magazine kicked off. Christine Ntim, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Startup Ecosystem, said she was excited to see all the disruptive entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. She wished startups all the best and encouraged them to never stop working and fighting for what they believe in.


Andrew Tang, Partner, Draper Associates, advised startups to focus on the big picture: ‘If you take a horizontal thing like the internet, you can predict which industry will be next to transform.’ Mareme Dieng, Head of Partnerships and International Relations at Draper University, concurred. ‘We want our entrepreneurs to have a global scope, when it comes to their impact’, she added.


Spencer Deng, CEO and Co-founder at Dorabot said artificial intelligence (AI), ‘unlike a human being, who has all of the senses set within itself, works like a hive mind getting information from a multiplicity of sources… AI will soon turn into an unhuman thing.’  Jeanne Lim, Board Director of Kami Intelligence and Hanson Robotics, imagined a future in which AI would allow us to realise and relearn what our own humanity is.


Tourism & Hospitality


Chief Sales and Marketing Officer from Marriott International Asia Pacific, Bart Buiring, in a travel related session commented that he has seen a lot of demand for staycations in Hong Kong. He said that the market is constantly changing, so the industry has to stay agile. ‘We are constantly watching travel restrictions and planning accordingly. It’s quite challenging but interesting,’ said Buiring. The pandemic has forced the industry to rethink and rebrand. In the short term they are very focused on reassuring travellers. Catherine So, Managing Director, North Asia Region, Expedia Group, noted that regardless of Covid-19, ‘We are here to connect supply and demand. Regardless of what they are looking for, it doesn’t change our consumer-focused mindset.’



Cars of Tomorrow


Two of the most prestigious car companies in the world, Porsche and Lamborghini, came together to talk innovation and what to expect in the future. In response to how Lamborghini will shift to become a more sustainable company, Albert Wong, Director, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macau, Lamborghini said, ‘from a supercar point of view, there are different ways of achieving our core values, in how we envision a cleaner future.’ Considering working with different materials to redesign motor placement, the designer can play a lot more with aerodynamics and efficiency.


Pinky Lai, Founder and CEO, Brainchild Design Consultants and Former Chief Designer at Porsche poked fun at the idea of AI driving, asking rhetorically, ‘If you had the chance to drive your dream sports car, would you switch on AI driving?’


Some good guidance


John-Simon Purcell Senior Director, Product & Technical Strategy at Prosus Group/Naspers was next. In his role he advises on new venture investments and provides operating guidance to Prosus’ worldwide portfolio in the areas of product, growth and technology. He discussed the constraints on the possible solutions to problems out there, hinting at Covid-19, saying that now is a great time for rethinking old, pre-existing problems. He said companies worth investing in ‘are the ones that actually understand the problem they are tackling.’ Regardless of the solution, this problem is something that humanity will always have to deal with. ‘Don’t be a solution that is in search of a problem.’



E-commence is a must moving forward, growing from local to global. Jennifer Tam, Director, Chicks, highlighted the importance of getting an internal system in order. ‘It’s a lot of investment linking everything together.’



And a highlight for many was the interview with Manny Pacquiao who reflected on his professional career in and out of the ring and, journey to becoming a senator in the Philippines. He said he is grateful for all the support he received along the way, especially when he was just a poor boxer. That is why he set up and invested in businesses that focus on creating social impact, in order to give back to the society. ‘Business investments are important to professional athletes as well, because they don’t know what will happen after the fight is over,’ he added.


Human Capital


Looking at how we can encourage business to embrace diversity and inclusion, the next panel comprised of young entrepreneurs who each in their own way, discussed how they have developed their businesses based on different themes of diversity and inclusion within the context of the LGBT community. Palis Pitsuttisarun, Founder of Prism, Jason Miao, Founder of Pacific Connect Group, and Ryan Figueiredo, Executive Director of Equal Asia Foundation, all found that diversity and inclusiveness in a startup ecosystem result in incredibly innovative ideas.


John Basnage, Managing Director, Full Circle Capital then followed. In reference to human capital in companies, he said ‘when you create a system that doesn’t use your resources fully, your business suffers.’ Mark Gilmour, Founder, Rising Brightly added that ‘the essence of being a true leader… is to be a true authentic version of yourself. Be honest about your shortcomings.’ Allyn Shaw, President and CTO at Recycle Track Systems, also said that ‘we often get so wrapped up in the products or the services we are creating’ that we forget to ask ourselves, ‘what benefits do your products and services have for the communities you serve?’ It is not just to make money – it has to have some sort of purpose. The team wants to have something to believe in.


Social Impact


Iim Fahima Jachja, Founder and CEO of Queen Rides, an online-andoffline women empowerment platform in its fifth year has organically grown to having around 400,000 female users in the APAC region. She discussed how her business came about, starting with issues regarding safety, which snowballed into a movement offline and social campaign online, gathering awareness and attracting women to the platform. Her platform  has eventually grown to a size that forced the government to get involved. Regarding Covid-19 and social entrepreneurships, she said ‘we won’t go back to the old normal. What we need to do is think ahead about what we are supposed to do in the next two years.


What lies ahead is a much bumpier road, especially for social entrepreneurs.’Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder, Hult Prize Foundation, said ‘we don’t look to rebound. We are looking to be anti-fragile. It’s the best time it’s ever been to be an impact entrepreneur. The world has never needed us more.’