Amanda Greets me at Innocentre
This is another special Silicon Valley Sightings Asia Edition, view the archives.
I had the absolute pleasure to take a tour of Hong Kong’s InnoCentre (on the Kowloon side) from Amanda Lau, head of Marketing of JiJiJa. This is just days after my tour of Cyberport on Hong Kong Island.
InnoCentre is a government sponsored incubator that promotes emerging companies by providing office space, business amenities like meeting rooms, copier rooms, and even funding –without taking any equity. There’s few VCs in Silicon Valley that can boast that type of model.
For startups, even the little things matter, from impressing clients in a real meeting room (rather than meeting at starbucks) or having a real work space, as you know there are few garages in China, so the garage startup is virtually non-existent.
“He said, “we promote applied R&D through funding schemes, infrastructure support, collaboration with Mainland and overseas research institutes. We also endeavor to grow an innovation culture in the community. Most recently, we launched five new R&D centers, in which the Government will invest over US$256.41 million (HK$2 billion). And we will roll out Science Park Phase 2 starting 2007.” -reports HK Economic Trade Office
There were several floors to this amazing building, which also housed product design companies (University of HK was just a few steps away) and had gallery areas to show off new products. For companies that met their three year goals in the program, they were elligable for funding, to launch their company further. As I understand it, a company has to apply to get this special kind of grant, and a few of the companies I met were happy to be there.
While there are some startup incubators around (I think Francine Hardaway would know) in the United States, I’ve never heard of a government sponsored one with so many benefits.
I met with Amanda, who showed me her product Jijija (Which means chatter in Chinese). They help ecommerce and social networks or even media websites become more efficient by providing behavioral based recommendations. This is a viable model as gestures (unspoken actions) can often be more powerful than what users say they will do. Don’t be fooled by their Chinese website, they plan to head globally, although I have the master list of others in their space.
I also checked out ReSpread an do it yourself email marketing tool that has interesting CRM features, for the email marketer, this is an interesting asset for the small and medium sized company.
I spent times with the founders of another company, who wished to remain stealth, they provided me with amazing insight about the Chinese web culture as it applies to the web, you’re seeing that output in other posts.