Founders Leave North America to Start Up in Hong Kong

September 9, 2011

2:30 pm

Entrepreneur Cory Kidd finished a PhD at MIT, so Boston was an obvious choice for starting a company. He also thought about moving to Silicon Valley, but this Louisiana-born American decided to cross the globe to start up in Hong Kong – and he’s not the only one.

“We took our company a lot further before we had to raise outside capital than we would have been able to pretty much anywhere else in the world,” says Kidd.

Part of the explanation is that Hong Kong is nestled below China and its manufacturing facilities. Kidd and his company, Intuitive Automata, are building a robot to help people lose weight, and lately he visits their factory in China once a week to prepare for shipping later this year.

A similar sentiment is shared by Ricky Lui of Joy Aether, which develops mobile platforms for sales and interactive media.

“The fact that we’re neighboring China and yet still an international city – I think we do have some advantages in terms of bridging between the East and the West,” says Lui, who grew up in Hong Kong but spent 20 years in Canada before returning. Hong Kong entrepreneurs can take advantage of China’s manufacturing and huge consumer market, while also gaining protection from Hong Kong’s good legal system.

Hong Kong ranks first on the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom, scoring high in areas like business freedom and property rights. According to the index:

Transparency encourages entrepreneurship, and the overall environment is conducive to the formation and operation of start-up businesses in various sectors.

Startups in Hong Kong also have plenty of opportunities for government support. Intuitive Automata received an interest-free loan of around US$250,000 from the Hong Kong government. The government also supports incubation programs like Incu-Tech at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks and the Cyberport Entrepreneurship Centre. Together, these advantages are helping Hong Kong entrepreneurs – natives and foreigners alike – bring their products to local, regional, and international markets.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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