Everything You Need to Know Before Building a Start-up in Hong Kong

It’s a really exciting time to be venturing into Asian markets, we explore how easy it is to set up a business in Hong Kong…

Start-up in Hong Kong

While later than fellow countries, Hong Kong’s start-up scene is now growing substantially. In 2016, Hong Kong saw a steady upward trend in the number of start-ups (24%) this is due to the city’s growing importance as a financial centre and tech hub and the perfect location for exports and connections with APAC, making it an ideal location for foreign entrepreneurs looking to set-up their own growing business.

If you are considering a start-up, whether you are living in Hong Kong already or thinking of emigrating, now is the time! It’s fast, easy and affordable to set up, and this blog takes you through the basics that you need to consider before taking the leap:

VISA
If you are not a Hong Kong resident you will need to apply for a visa for self-employment or investment. There are no specific requirements for you to prove that the business you are starting is to fill a specific niche in the Hong Kong market, however, you should be able to show how you will make a substantial contribution to the economy.

Business plan
No matter where you want to set up a new venture a business plan is the first step. It’s essential to have a complete plan in place to bring clarity and detail to your ideas.
A detailed business plan will help you focus on your goals and will provide you with a realistic base level for your finances – what you need to set up and what you hope to turnover. The business plan will be of great use to you when starting out but also useful for potential partners and investors.

Company Type
Part of your Business Plan will cover the type of company you wish to setup. In most cases, this will be a Limited Company to be set up and incorporated in Hong Kong so you can take advantage of all the tax benefits available.

Hong Kong Company Incorporation
Any new business will need to register and set up with the Hong Kong Companies registry, to do so you can simply by submit your details at the e-Registry. There are several fees involved for incorporating a company, you can find out more here:

Funding
Unless you can self-fund your new business, many entrepreneurs and new business owners will be looking for ways to raise capital. The government in Hong Kong is fully behind innovation and start-ups to help grow the economy, thus offering a variety of schemes to help fund new businesses, but you must be prepared to answer a variety of questions when looking to raise capital.

One commonly used scheme is the SME Fund which helps small and medium enterprises secure financing for installations and equipment, and expanding markets.

There a number of different types of funds for specific initiatives for different disciplines; for example the DesignSmart Initiative to nurture design start-ups. Or the CreateSmart Initiative which supports businesses that support creative industries.  Or the Technology Business Incubation Programmes, that specifically assists tech start-ups.

Another way is to find investors yourself. Attending event such as Startup Weekend, Startup Grind and JumpStart – network with investors and share your business, you might find someone interested in your business and if not you can at least get some advice and guidance. Hong Kong also has an AngelList where you can find investors – which is another way to gather potential funding.

Building a team

A successful business, especially a start-up relies heavily on the talent and skills of those within in.  Hong Kong have an abundance of digital talent ready to be plucked for the right opportunity, so make sure you use specialist recruitment consultancies that know the market. Cogs have been working with digital agencies and start-ups across Hong Kong for the past five years and will be happy to assist growing your team.

It’s a really exciting time to be venturing into Asian markets, we recently explored what the startup scene was like in Singapore, and now with Hong Kong there is proving so much opportunity for start-ups.  No matter where you choose to set-up your new business, to give yourself the best chance of success ensure you have a bullet-proof plan, cover all legality’s, registrations and requirements and hire the very best people to make your business a true success.

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