# Monday, January 07, 2013

During the holidays AcceleratorHK shut down and some of the cohort went back home to visit family or just get some well deserved rest. (Others went to Macau for the New Years, enough said..) Everyone starting arriving back in Hong Kong on the 1st so we decided to stretch the legs and get some good fresh air before we went back to work hard core on Monday. A bunch of the members of the cohort went for a scenic 25km/15m hike in the Sai Kung region of Hong Kong on Saturday.

We started off with an easy 10km hike to Long Ke beach, a very secluded beach, even in the summer. The only way to get there is by boat or to hike in.

This is where we decided to start the Hong Kong chapter of the Polar Bear club. The Polar Bear club jumps into the ocean each year on January 1st, even if there is snow on the ground. Usually the water is very cold in the winter and the polar bears members are hard core. Since Hong Kong is a sub-tropical island, the outside air temperature was about 65F/18C, but we stripped down to our underwear anyway and jumped in. Yes it was cold!

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We then walked for another few hours and had some of the most amazing views that Hong Kong has to offer of the Sai Kung peninsular.

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Finally we descended onto Sai Wan beach and had a well deserved lunch. 25km of hiking makes you hungry!

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We’ll get back to Customer Development, MVPs, prototypes, raising seed capital, demo day preparation all on Monday…

posted on Monday, January 07, 2013 8:27:21 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Friday, December 21, 2012

We are already at Week 7 at AcceleratorHK! The teams are hard at work building their MVPs and doing Customer Validation before we take a two week break for the holidays. All the teams are staying in Hong Kong over the holidays and are continuing to work, there are just no scheduled Accelerator programs. The clock is ticking until Demo Day on February 6th!

We started off the week right. On Monday we had a great mentor, Viresh Bhatia, come on in and spend a lot of time with each team. Viresh is an experienced entrepreneur as well as the chair of the Telerik Board of Directors. Viresh was also impressed with the mobile adoption in Hong Kong as well as Samsung’s market share in Hong Kong (specifically the popularity of the SIII and NoteII).

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We continued our 1:1s on Monday and Tuesday as most teams are now building prototypes and MVPs. Two of the teams apps are already on my phone!

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We had an additional mentor, Peter Burton, come in on Thursday. He only had a short amount of time and met briefly with a few teams and made some connections to people they all should talk with. We also convinced Peter to flash his old Samsung Galaxy S to Cyanogen Mod 10.1 and Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1. He proved his geek cred by coming in the next day with his flashed phone.

Note: A lot of the cohort members, including Paul and myself, run Cyanogen MOD. If you are in a mobile app accelerator, you may as well be flashing phones! Smile 

In addition to all of the hard work we also had a little bit of fun exploring Hong Kong cuisine. One day at lunch we got to see the Mexican team use Chinese chopsticks for the first time.

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We had a social dinner one night where we trekked over to the the other side of town and had HK clay pot rice dishes. This was a crowd pleaser. Smile

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Lastly, we had our elevator pitches and 10/20/30 presentations on Friday. We decided to have our own AcceleratorHK Christmas party complete with cookies, cake, hot wine, beer, and of course tequila.

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See you in 2 weeks!!

posted on Friday, December 21, 2012 8:04:03 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last week marked the halfway point in the program at AcceleratorHK. All teams have progressed nicely and most are now doing full fledged Customer Validation complete with MVPs and prototypes. I even have one Icenium built and deployed app on my phone! One team took their app public and tested their MVP at a real live event in Hong Kong.

This was a “working” week that was light on meetings and mentor visits, however, we did have two very important events this week. The first was the HK Startup Bootcamp Demo Day. Bootcamp is also run by Paul and has 7 teams that pay for startup coaching and a three month program. The program is structured very different than an accelerator, but has some similarities, the most important being Demo Day.

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The cohort got to see what a Demo Day is all about; the excitement and buzz at Demo Day was amazing. Hopefully the cohort is now less nervous. Smile

In addition to Demo Day we also had mentor Patrick Lee, the co-founder of Rotten Tomatoes, come on in and talk to the teams about building a business in Hong Kong.

CoCoon Entrepreneurial Series: Patrick Lee- Co-Founder of Rotten Tomatoes

This week is the last week before we take a Christmas break. Stay tuned for more updates..

posted on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:42:52 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Monday I spoke at Open Web Asia held on beautiful Hainan Island in Mainland China. The event, in its third year (year one was held in Korea and year two was held in Malaysia), was organized by Gang Lu of technode, a popular tech blog in Asia.

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I was asked to speak on two panels, one on “The Golden Age of Mobile” in Asia, where I made the argument that it has always been a golden age for mobile in Asia, Japan and Korea led the world in mobile a decade ago and the NTTDoCoMo iMode phone was the hot hop must have phone in 1999-2001 that lead the world in innovation. Hong Kong’s very own Yat Siu made some great points about WeChat (200m users) and Weibo (400m users) explosion due to the migrant workers in China needing to stay in touch with family and friends back home.

I also spoke on an investors panel about the startup investment situation in Asia. I was asked what was the #1 criteria when selecting the companies to invest in for the AcceleratorHK program and I said the team. All the other panelists agreed, I was glad that I was asked first. Smile 

In addition to other great panels, there were startup pitches by 10 hot Asian startups. We had startups from Korea, Japan, HK, Singapore, and Malaysia presented. I loved a team from Malaysia, however I was still a little biased towards the Hong Kong startups.

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Lastly, the best part of the day was when the community leaders from 9 Asian countries did a presentation about the startup ecosystem in their home country then had a panel discussion. They represented very diverse countries at different stages of economic development: compare Japan to Vietnam to Indonesia to India for example. What was fascinating was that while each country was different and had unique challenges and opportunities, they all wanted the same thing: more entrepreneurs. I think we may be entering the golden age of Asian entrepreneurship!

The community leaders where:

Lastly, what would a conference be without a party and what would a party be in Asia without a Gangnam Style dance. Here is Daniel, James (from Korea!), and Casey getting down:

posted on Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:20:36 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Monday, December 10, 2012

Last week was Week 5 at Accelerator HK. I can’t believe how fast it all is going, before we know it, it will be Demo Day! The teams last week worked hard at Customer Validation and have been narrowing down their segments and value propositions. They have been starting to develop MVPs of various shapes and sizes. Some of the developers have been hacking away at PhoneGap and have sent Telerik feedback on Icenium and KendoUI. We had two mentors  with specific skillsets come in to spend time with two different teams as well.

In addition to Customer Validation, we had the opportunity to attend a Pecha-kucha night in Hong Kong. We were lucky enough to have the founder of the global phenomena of Pecha-kucha nights, Mark Dytham, in town to MC. It was an interesting night complete with arguments over how to pronounce Pecha-kucha, two Macs crashing in the middle of presentations, and topped off with someone in the audience fainting. Despite all of those setbacks, the night was a great learning experience for the cohort.

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On Thursday most of the cohort was at the SME Expo in Hong Kong doing customer validation interviews and MVP inspection. After the long day at the event, we had a Hot Pot social diner.

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Friday was our typical elevator pitches, Friday check-ins, founder talks, and our very own Pecha-kucha talks. Then on Saturday we went up to Shenzhen to the massive component markets to see how hardware startups operate. Since we are a hybrid mobile accelerator, two teams bought their first Android phone at the gadget markets.

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We then chipped in and bought Paul some jeans. Next step, tee-shirts…

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We caught up with some friends in Shenzhen and the cohort went to late night Karaoke as well as some more customer validation on Weibo.

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Stay tuned for news from Week 6!

posted on Monday, December 10, 2012 12:55:20 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, December 02, 2012

This past week was the 4th week of the Accelerator HK program. We are already 1/3 of the way through the program!

This week we had mentor Michael Michelini, founder of Weibo Agent come in and speak to the teams. Mike is an American living in Shenzhen, China and working on his own startup called Weibo Agent. Weibo Agent is a graduate of the accelerator Chinaccelerator in fall 2012. Mike came in and talked Social Media strategy and about his experiences in an accelerator.

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Later in the week we had Cory Kidd, co-founder of Intuitive Automata come in and speak to the teams. Cory is an American living in Hong Kong and running a startup that is building a robot to be used as a weight loss coach. It is always awesome for me to listen to Cory speak since he runs a hardware company and I think hardware is the new software.

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Cory also took advantage of some Hong Kong government grant money for startups and explained how to take advantage of those.

This Friday at the Friday check-in we worked on presentation skills with many presentations and demos going on. We even challenged members to deliver the 1 minute elevator pitch for other startups in the cohort! Now that most of the cohort have done the “Founder Friday” talk about themselves, Paul and I were able to give everyone feedback based on the skills we saw them demonstrate in their personal speeches.

Paul of course was dressed down again for Friday Hoodie Day (where we channel our inner Zuckerberg). Smile We will see if he buys a pair of jeans this weekend.

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Lastly, most of the cohort attended the Agile Tour Hong Kong all day seminar on Saturday. We had five speakers from around the world talking about DevOps, Scrum, Distributed teams, Agile Estimation, and TDD.

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Week 5 is also a busy week, stay tuned for more progress.

posted on Sunday, December 02, 2012 5:46:14 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Last week was our third week at AcceleratorHK and the teams are starting to really get the hang of Customer Development, specifically Customer Discovery interviews. A lot of the teams have taken the feedback that they got on their customer discovery interviews and started to build MVPs and prototypes to do the next round of customer discovery (and some are thinking about moving to Customer Validation soon.) Even though it is early, it is exciting to see the early stage prototypes. (I can’t help the application developer inside of me.)

One team treated some of their interviewees to a Hong Kong Hot Pot dinner. What better way to get a captive audience? Smile

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We also focused on presentation skills at our Friday meeting. We had some founders give presentations about themselves and some do a Petcha-kucha.

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Lastly, we finally got our program director, Paul to loosen up and started a brand new Accelerator HK tradition, Friday Hoodie Day.

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This week is a big week with mentors coming in, demos, and more customer discovery/validation. Stay tuned.

posted on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 7:03:05 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [1] Trackback
# Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Last week was our second week at AcceleratorHK and things are starting to fall into a good cadence. On Monday, we had our first of the weekly 1:1 meetings and Paul and I worked directly with the teams on the issues that they face. We also had two amazing mentors come in:

First was Salim Virani, the creator of Leancamp. He talked to us about Customer Development and took a lot of time out of his vacation time in HK to spend with the teams on how to ask the right Customer Discovery and Customer Validation questions.

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Later in the week we had Mikaal Abdulla, co-founder of 8 Securities, a Hong Kong startup success story, come in and tell us the story of leaving a well paying secure job and going out and starting a new business in Hong Kong, along with the war stories of raising money and some secrets to their brilliant marketing campaigns.

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On Friday we did our first Friday all-hands meeting and was able to have an update by each team on their progress, practice their elevator pitch (next week I am going to put some of them in an actual elevator to practice), and ask the cohort for any help. We also gave out some Telerik tee-shirts. Smile We have a strict attendance policy, so one member had to phone in via Skype who was home sick. (Notice we gave him his tee-shirt anyway.)

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On Friday night we went out for some beers after a long week at the Accelerator doing Customer Development. The teams are still focusing on Customer Discovery and Customer Validation and will be in Week 3 as well. Stay tuned…

posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 6:50:02 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback