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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 13 October 2019


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First virtual general insurance licence granted as Insurance Authority promotes insurtech in Hong Kong

The Insurance Authority granted its first virtual general licence on Tuesday as it tries to encourage wider use of technology by Hong Kong’s insurers. The recipient was Avo Insurance, a purely digital company which will sell its products online without the use of agents or brokers, thus keeping costs down.

Avo is 51 per cent owned by Asia Insurance, the general insurance arm of Hong Kong-listed Asia Financial Group, while the rest is owned by Zhang Lei, founder and chief executive of Hillhouse Capital. Hillhouse, which manages US$60 billion of assets, is known as an early investor in many technology giants including Tencent Holdings, Baidu, Didi Chuxing and Meituan Dianping.

Avo plans to use artificial intelligence and other new technologies to serve customers, for example using big data and deep learning to conduct more accurate risk profiling and pricing. 

The Bees Group secures HK$1 million to fund Start PR, includes it as subsidiary

Hong Kong based marketing services group The Bees Group has funded boutique PR agency Start PR and included it as its first PR agency in the group.

Start PR was able to secure HK$1 million from The Bees Group. Eiswein Wong, co-founder of Start PR said the fund will be used to further promote its “à la carte marketing and public relations services” to different industries. In addition to its current clients from the IT industry and international start-ups, the company also aims to expand its services to companies from the F&B and FMCG industries.

Campfire opens Whampoa Branch

Camp Whampoa is the highly anticipated Campfire Co-Learning and coworking hub located in the iconic Harbourfront Landmark, just 2 minutes from the Whampoa MTR. It is bringing the new-age workplace to Hong Kong. It offers state-of-the-art facilities for businesses, education providers and families – giving their members a hub where they can focus and work hard, as well as entertain, relax and spend quality time with their children.

Campfire Co-Founder and CEO, Wang Tse, says

“We’re excited to bring the new-age workplace to Hong Kong and continue to innovate the industry. We’ve listened to the needs of the modern day worker and have purposefully designed what we truly see to be the flexible office of the future.”

Goldman Sachs had 500 teams of employees pitch startup ideas — then picked the 5 best to fund

Goldman Sachs is trying to keep innovation in the family. In March, 500 teams of employees had the opportunity to pitch the bank startup ideas. Of those submissions, five were selected in early October to receive funding from Goldman Sachs. The winning teams are located in New York, London, Hong Kong, Salt Lake City, and Bengaluru and they have two years to succeed at one of the 3 mandates: generate new revenue, create efficiencies, or improve client experiences.

The program highlights how Goldman has decided to tackle two issues in banking. The first is that Wall Street is increasingly buying stake in fintechs to stay on the cutting edge. The second is that some Goldman employees with good ideas have left the firm in the past to start their own businesses. 

With this program, Goldman is keeping their current talent close.

"Some people leave the firm and go build their ideas," Baker told CNBC. "You can do it outside but most businesses fail. There will be some ideas that will uniquely be successful here."

In the Accelerate program, Goldman continues to pay its employees their salaries, meaning they don't have to take on a usual risk of striking out on their own.

Hong Kong's first and only startup ecosystem WHub enters India to leverage cross-border scaling

Hong Kong's first and only startup ecosystem WHub has entered India to leverage cross-border scaling. And as a natural next step to establishing a startup ecosystem, the founders of WHub have also launched AngelHub, a platform for angel investing through crowdfunding, the first regulated startup investment platform in Hong Kong.

Karena, CEO and Founder of WHub, is keen on facilitating cross-border scaling between the two regions. Speaking to YourStory, she said, "With regard to the vibrance and success of their ecosystems, Bengaluru and Hong Kong are very similar, with a strong core at their centers, which helps startups scale in a very short time."

With the intention to enable startups to grow out of their home markets, both from Hong Kong and Bengaluru, the WHub team is now actively participating in various tech and startup forums around the country.

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