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Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and London: My Experience

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Entrepreneurship has been my longtime passion. In the past summer, I had been attending a variety of events in Hong Kong to meet likeminded people and be more involved in the budding start-up scene.

To put my experiences from the past summer in context, let me briefly introduce myself. I grew up in Hong Kong. Even though I have been studying abroad since 2007, I come back a few times every year. After completing my A-Levels in the UK, I read Economics at the LSE, and am now a postgraduate student of Law in London.

London presented me with invaluable ways to broaden my horizons and pursue a diverse range of interests. In addition to being involved with various publications and societies at my university, I was able to attend courses in wine and fashion, as well as to participate in political organizations in the run-up to the 2010 General Election. Hong Kong no doubt has similar opportunities to offer. It has enabled me to experience work in many different industries ranging from Finance and IT, to Property and Law.

But it was London that introduced me to the exciting world of start-ups. I became very enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, so enthusiastic that I created one of the first co-working spaces in Hong Kong in an attempt to promote the start-up culture here. Although I did not succeed at the time, I have since been closely following the developments of the start-up scene in Hong Kong.

The events that I attended in the past summer demonstrated how the community has strengthened and how the ecosystem has matured significantly over the past two or three years. It was interesting how most of these events were hosted in co-working spaces, the number of which in Hong Kong has grown exponentially, being roughly in line with the developments in London - an example showing how Hong Kong is quickly establishing itself as a start-up hub.

Another observation I made is that the attendees of these events were likely to have had some international experience or exposure - such as having attended international schools or studied abroad, or having lived or worked in another country. This may perhaps be attributable to the traditional and conservative Chinese culture and perception in Hong Kong towards entrepreneurship and start-ups in general. Although there have been improvements in recent years, this culture and perception risk hindering the developments of the city into a successful start-up hub. It is fundamental that the concept of start-ups and an entrepreneurial career is more effectively communicated to local Chinese people in Hong Kong.

To become a successful start-up hub, Hong Kong also needs to communicate more effectively to entrepreneurs and start-ups in the city and around the world, demonstrating that it is an attractive location to launch and grow a business. When compared to London, Hong Kong is behind in terms of a suitable talent pool and adequate support by the government.

Hong Kong does have its advantages. Perhaps one of the most well known and coveted is its unique position in Asia and relationship with China. The city has always been described as the door to Asia, like how London is the gateway to Europe.

For example, its proximity to Taiwan gave me a chance to intern in the news and public relations departments of a television channel and network in Taipei, while its close ties with the Mainland meant that I was in a fortunate position to help set up a non-profit organization in Hong Kong to support pre-school education in rural China.

However, better support needs to be available to entrepreneurs and start-ups in Hong Kong to facilitate their expansion into China and the rest of Asia.

With its vibrant mix of people from a diversity of backgrounds and all corners of the world, Hong Kong, being a global city and financial centre consistently ranked just behind London and New York, unquestionably has the potential to become the next major start-up hub.

Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and London: My Experience

Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong and London: My Experience

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