Pointing Way for Startups

Wearable IoT World to launch new tech startup accelerator in Hong Kong

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IoTSan Francisco-based start-up accelerator Wearable IoT World has launched a new technology venture in Hong Kong that will act as a cross-national gravity center to attract entrepreneurs to come and build their companies.

The new venture, dubbed the US-Pan Asia IoT Superhighway accelerator, will also focus on grooming entrepreneurs in Asia who are dedicated to driving innovation in the Internet of Things, wearables and emerging technologies.

“This marked a long-awaited milestone in our continued quest to build the easiest pathway to product creation, market awareness, investment and distribution for related start-ups around the world,” said Redg Snodgrass, co-founder and chief executive of Wearable IoT World.

“What we are trying to do is to eliminate the anxiety and opacity that entrepreneurs face when they look at new markets and when they build their products, from dealing with manufacturers, designers to prototyping.”

Established in May 2013, Wearable IoT World provides young entrepreneurs with support on advisory services, publishing services and conference organization.

Since inception, the accelerator has mentored 80 companies in the United States, helping them raise a total of US$85 million (HK$663 million) from investors and US$5.5 million from crowdfunding projects. About 90 percent of its start-ups are able to raise outside capital, Snodgrass said.

Its portfolio, which has an aggregated value of US$500 million, includes TZOA, a manufacturer of wearable air-quality and ultraviolet sensors, Kontakt.io, a back-end solution provider for Beacons and iBeacons, and Grush, a gaming toothbrush for children.

Wearable IoT World said it will set up an executive office and innovation lab at Cyberport, and partner with the management company to organize accelerator events and executive programs.

It also announced that three investors from Hong Kong and the United States have injected HK$35 million into its operational fund.

The investment comes from Radiant Venture Capital, which is headed by local businessmen Duncan Chiu and Gordon Yen, Silicon Valley-based Tsinghua Entrepreneurs and Executive Club Angel Fund, and New York-based private equity W Capital Partners.

McKinsey Global Institute projected last June that the Internet of Things will have a total potential economic impact of US$3.9 trillion to US$11.1 trillion a year by 2025 – equivalent to about 11 percent of the world economy.

By 2020, there will be 30 billion devices connected together, the McKinsey report says.

Snodgrass said that China and the United States will be two of the world’s largest markets for IoT.

Many companies are interested in using the SAR as a launch pad into the mainland and Southeast Asia.

The proximity to Shenzhen and Guangdong, the manufacturing hub of China, is one of the reasons why foreign companies find the SAR attractive, said Chiu, managing director of Radiant Venture Capital.

“You also find in Hong Kong top- of-the-mind designers, world-class graphic innovators, experienced marketing people, and people who understand the East and West,” he added.

“You can protect your intellectual property with Hong Kong laws, which are recognized by many foreign countries. Also, we have excellent logistics to ship products to everywhere in the world.”

With the local start-up community continuing to mature, Chiu expects more young people who are still at university to come up with different products, devices and analytic software. They will need help to expand into the markets in the mainland, Southeast Asia and the United States.

“These young entrepreneurs will need people to help network and give them strategic advice on how to go to market. And, of course, they need investors,” said Chiu, adding that his firm will further invest in companies affiliated with Wearable IoT World if deemed suitable.

Wearable IoT World announced that it has started a new round of recruitment for promising start-ups in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Singapore and the US. It is now taking applications and up to 15 start-ups from Hong Kong will be picked for an accelerator program that starts this May.

The 15-week program in Hong Kong will provid those selected with capital of up to US$25,000 in return for an equity stake of up to six percent.

It will also provide an extensive suite of services, from customized mentorship, education, office space, networking opportunities to a demo day in the United States to meet with investors and the media.

Snodgrass said that he will try to get these entrepreneurs to meet with influential US technophiles, such as technical evangelist Robert Scoble, former Amazon.com chief scientist Andreas Weigend and Andy Grignon, one of the original creators of iPhone.

There will be chances to connect with angel investors, including Randy Haykin, Rick Wagoner and Yobie Benjamin.

The article first appeared in the Standard on January 25, 2016.

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