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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 20 October 2019

5 in 5

Entrepreneur First, the talent investor, pulls out of Hong Kong

Entrepreneur First (EF), the Greylock-backed “talent investor” that recruits and backs individuals pre-team and pre-idea to enable them to found startups, is pulling out of Hong Kong, TechCrunch has learned.

According to sources, the London-HQ’d company builder has told provisional candidates for its 2020 Hong Kong cohort that they should instead apply to one of its other international outposts, which includes Berlin, Paris, Singapore, Bangalore, London and (most recently) Toronto.

The immediate Hong Kong operations aren’t changing, however, and the current cohort will complete the program and present at January’s Demo Day as planned. Hong Kong alumni will also continue to receive investment support as usual.

As for why EF is pulling out of Hong Kong, Clifford says that although there have been three “good cohorts” in Hong Kong, the talent pool there hasn’t proven big enough to support two cohorts per year “in the long run.” In the first two Hong Kong cohorts, EF has backed around 100 individuals and 11 companies, many of which have gone on to raise external funding.

Catalyst Ventures invests in TripGuru!

Catalyst Ventures, a Hong Kong based venture capital who invests in early-stage technology startups that show promising ability on business executions, has invested in TripGuru, a travel booking platform that connects travellers via group experiences.

By joining TripGuru’s shared experiences, customers get to enjoy unique itineraries, access to certified local tour guides, private cars equipped with a/c and wifi, and instant availability with excellent customer service support.

They partner with local guides in each destination, placing them in the digital marketplace they built — empowering local tour guides to become entrepreneurs, operating their tours under TripGuru’s brand name and standards.

They are now backed by 30,000 bookings(and counting), over 5,000 positive reviews, and US$1 Million in sales.

Chayora secures $180m series C funding from Actis

Actis Asia Real Estate Fund (AAREF) and Chayora have reached an agreement for AAREF and other Actis managed funds to invest $180 million equity in Chayora’s series C round of funding. Chayora is an infrastructure developer based in Hong Kong with a focus on building Data Centre platforms in China.

“We are very excited to extend our partnership with Chayora and to support its next phase of expansion and growth with this Series C round of funding,” said Brian Chinappi, partner and head of Asia Real Estate of Actis. “With a focused approach to develop world class standard data centre campuses in China, Chayora has amassed all the essential ingredients in a challenging regulatory environment to be a one-stop data centre infrastructure solution provider. We look forward to working closely with Chayora’s founders and management team to make it one of the preferred data centre partners for both domestic and international internet and cloud players in China.”

This Series C funding will give Chayora expansion capital for its data centre development projects. Combined with project debt of $250 million, it will enable Chayora to complete two hyperscale data centre facilities on the Chayora’s Tianjin campus and acquire land for further growth.

Hmlet to launch it's largest Hong Kong co-living location next month

Co-living specialist Hmlet is set to open its biggest location yet in Hong Kong next month, as the Singapore-based company continues to expand its presence in Asia Pacific.

The new location, which contains 57 rooms, is Hmlet’s fourth largest in Asia Pacific, according to an announcement by the Singapore-based company.

The addition of the new property brings the start-up’s presence in the city to 250 rooms, which include serviced apartments dotted across Hong Kong as well as rooms within dedicated centres operated entirely by Hmlet.

“We’ve seen our philosophy and operational model resonate with the Hong Kong market since our launch,” said Hmlet’s CEO, Yoan Kamalski, who co-founded the company three years ago.

Hmlet secured $40 million in series C funding in July, which followed an earlier round of funding in April that raised HK$310 million from investors led by Burda Principal, which has also invested in Southeast Asia e-commerce startups Zilingo and Carsome.

2019 World Economic Forum launches The Global Competitiveness Report 

The World Economic Forum has released the Global Competitiveness Report for this year.

Here’s an overview:

Ten years on from the global financial crisis, the world economy remains locked in a cycle of low or flat productivity growth despite the injection of more than $10 trillion by central banks. The latest Global Competitiveness Report paints a gloomy picture, yet it also shows that those countries with a holistic approach to socio-economic challenges, look set to get ahead in the race to the frontier.

Hong Kong has moved up 4 ranks in the 2019 Global Competitiveness Index 4.0. The Global Competitiveness Report provides an annual assessment of the drivers of productivity and long-term economic growth. With a score of 84.8 (+1.3), Singapore is the world’s most competitive economy in 2019, overtaking the United States, which falls to second place. Hong Kong SAR (3rd), Netherlands (4th) and Switzerland (5th) round up the top five.

Countries’ scores are based primarily on quantitative findings from internationally recognized agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Health Organization, with the addition of qualitative assessments from economic and social specialists and senior corporate executives.

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