How to Start a Successful Start-up: Tips and Support from Cyberport

by Natalie Lung | Photo credits: Natalie Lung | 21 October 2014

As the leading ICT hub in Asia, Cyberport has been very active in supporting local developers and start-ups. Whether your start-up is at the seed stage or the mature stage (or anything in between), Cyberport has assistance programmes that can cater your needs. Jenny Lam, Business Development Manager at the Cyberport Entrepreneurship Centre, filled HKU students in on the details of those programmes and shared tips on coming up with good ideas at a briefing session on campus in September.

Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF)

So you have an idea, say for a website or an app that has a potential market for it. You aspire to be among the tech giants at Silicon Valley. What’s next?

CCMF is a 6-month programme to help creative ideas realize their potential. A total of $100,000 will be granted at different stages of the programme as a seed fund for your idea. Though only 10% of applicants were admitted after the vetting period in previous years, it is relatively easy to graduate from it and be granted the funding.

“Those who couldn’t graduate had either no end product produced or team issues,” Jenny Lam said.

Read more about the programme, funding scheme, application details and vetting criteria here. The deadline for the October 2014 recruitment is 5pm on 22nd October, 2014.

Cyberport Incubation Programme

If you already have a prototype, a start-up or even a registered company in Hong Kong, you could consider the Cyberport Incubation Programme.

With a 24-month incubation period and funding up to $530,000, you will be able to gain investment and business connections, industry recognition and validation as an incubatee.“It will be easier for you to gain support from other programmes, earn trust from clients and partners since you’ve gone through a strict vetting process [for this Programme],” said Jenny.

For programme details, eligibility requirement and vetting criteria, visit Cyberport’s website here. The deadline for application is also 5pm on 22nd October.

Notable beneficiaries from HKU

Two projects by HKU alumni, iClass by IT Wake Ltd. and Snapask by Appedu Co., have benefitted from these programmes and are currently based in Cyberport. Read our interview with the iClass team.

Tips on writing a good CCMF proposal: The essentials of a successful start-up

Jenny Lam told interested students to work on three points—a creative idea, a balanced team, and business viability in the long run. One point often overlooked by candidates is whether the team behind the start-up is balanced. You need different people who know tech, design and business to make a good team.

Jenny added that applicants should do market research to understand the current trends and highlight how they are better than their competitors. Finally, they should bear in mind that the length of the proposal does not necessarily reflect its quality.

Coming up with good ideas

“If my idea is searchable on Google, is it still considered a creative idea?”

Anything that does not get caught in the web of Google’s omniscient spider is either non-existent or so insignificant that it slipped through its tightly woven threads.

When asked the above question at the briefing session, Jenny posed the following response: “It is extremely normal for your ideas to be thought of already. If no one has thought of that idea, it probably has no market. You would want to launch something among weak competitors.”

What you want to avoid doing

Developing an app that is inspired by the flaws of apps you use daily may not be the best idea. Let’s say you want to improve OpenRice’s table-booking feature, so you write a detailed CCMF proposal for an app to complement OpenRice for booking tables, only to find it rejected by the vetting panel.

“Consider this — OpenRice is an established app with a considerable amount of loyal users. They could easily release another version of their app with a powerful booking system. Your app start-up would be done in a few weeks,” Jenny said.

Most creative ideas stem from our daily observations with a pinch of imagination, and they do not come by easily. But fear not, with two recruitment periods each year, Cyberport plans to recruit 50 CCMF grantees and 50 incubatees every year in its 3-year strategic plan for 2014-15 to 2016-17. There are plenty of opportunities for you to realize your entrepreneurship dreams.

Natalie Lung

A final-year Journalism and Computer Science student at HKU. News and Internet junkie with deep appreciation for the performing arts. Favourite music genre: retro, house.

Author: Natalie Lung

A final-year Journalism and Computer Science student at HKU. News and Internet junkie with deep appreciation for the performing arts. Favourite music genre: retro, house.

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