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October 9, 2017

Response to

1) The problem is one of desperation. The big problem is that Hong Kong is simply not generating enough jobs through the traditional financial system, and so people are looking at startups to generate the employment which is necessary in order to keep people from rioting.

HK startups may be weak in X, Y, Z, but it’s not like Silicon Valley where if your startup doesn’t work, you have alternatives. It turns out that in HK, no one has come up with any other way of generating large scale unemployment other than tech, and if people can’t get funding because their startups suck, then the solution is to figure out how to make the startups “unsuck.”

It turns out to be hard to get funding, but if you can’t get funding locally because your startup is bad, then we need to do something to make it not bad. Right now there is a big gap in funding between USD 1 million and USD 10 million.

The Singapore government has funded a lot of weak startups. On the other hand, Singapore hasn’t had a strong Occupy movement nor is there much appetite for radical politics. Those two are correlated.

Here is the problem *WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH?*  The message that if you are an uber-genius you can make it, rings hollow because it turns out that most people are average.  Suppose you are an average young person, with average skills and with average intelligence.  *WHAT DO YOU DO?*

The reason that people are worried about ecosystem is that right now, there isn’t anything other than tech and startups, that is going to generate middle class jobs for the next generation of people in Hong Kong.  And most of the people that need jobs are average people.  If you have a situation in which the brilliant make a ton of money and average people make nothing, then Hong Kong will self-destruct.

You need to create an economic model in which average people can get decent jobs, and that involves looking at the economic ecosystem of Hong Kong.

2) The obsession with external funding over self-generated revenue is simply a matter of survive

If you can survive off your own income, that’s great, but the trouble is that most of people involved here don’t have their own income.

3) Unicorns

The obsession with unicorns is that people need companies that generate employment and create local capital.  The other issue with unicorns is that right now Hong Kong has no good way of passing political and economic power to the next generation, nor is there any really good mechanism for giving hope to young people.  What the people that run Hong Kong really want is to create a “young Jack Ma” or “young Li Ka-Shing” that they can turn over the keys to the city.  This is going to come through with unicorns.

Not every startup can be a unicorn, but the critical problem for Hong Kong was that until recently there were *NO* unicorns.  Just having three or four unicorns completely transforms the political and economic landscape of HK.

4) Networking with other startups

It turns out to be really important to network with people that are very different, because they have skills that can be useful to you.  Also the main reason for networking turns out to be psychological.  If you get in front of customers, they will tell you how you suck, and after hours and hours of that, you just want to punch them in the face.  *I’M TRYING AS HARD AS A CAN, DAMMIT*  Customer calls are not therapy sessions, and you have to put on the smile, and nod your head.

One reason that networking with other startups is critical is that they know what you are going through and you know what they are going through.  You are all desperate people trying to keep your company afloat, and so people will end up trying to help each other, and even in situations where people can’t help each other you end up with moral support.

Also networking with other startups gives you an idea of the state of the economy.  If every startup was failing, then maybe that’s a sign that everything is hopeless and you should throw in the towel.  On the other hand, what I’m seeing is that people are starting to have success with something, and that can give you the energy to keep fighting.


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