Prototype 2: Should I remain in Hong Kong? Talent and Investors, a Catch 22

Last Sunday night I put the finishing touches on the second prototype. Check it out:

prototype_Small

It takes up half my apartment

The first prototype was very small, just a proof of concept type thing. This one is operational and dangerous. This prototype also establishes a milestone in the startup. I’ve worked on this startup since 2009. It has gone through several technologies, business plans, competitions, locations, names, and team members  We were, among others:

  • 2009 Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge, Chinese University Hong Kong, HPFE Company, team members Tracy and Fanny
  • 2010 Young Entrepreneurs Development Council Business Plan competition, Chinese University Hong Kong, Renew Investments, team members Fanny and Tracy
  • 2010 European Union Business Plan compensation, Korea University, New Standard Energy, team members Youngju and Yoojin
  • 2011 Renew Investments Limited, a Hong Kong based waste and scrap trading company, employees Benny and Sheba
  • 2012 Xingergy Environmental and Energy Technologies Limited, a Hong Kong based startup, partners Raymond, Denis, and Alex.

We’ve always been on paper, and just barely; the only thing to survive each transformation was myself and my notes. Currently, Raymond is no longer with us and Denis isn’t involved. Through all this, a lot of research, site visits (landfills, waste management facilities, etc.), competitions, and hours upon hours of staring at the computer, thinking, writing… I’ve ended up here. A minimal viable product, with emphasis on minimal.

Opportunity Cost
During this time I’ve paid many opportunity costs to purse this startup. To date I’ve:

  • Spent  the last 11 months focusing entirely on Xingergy, the prior 2 years focusing at least part time on what would become Xingergy.
  • Invested all of my money into Xingergy. That second prototype cost $9,000 in parts, and it isn’t even complete.

I dropped out of college to focus full time on Xingergy. I’ve closed my profitable scrap trading business  and invested all the profits, all my savings, into Xingergy. I’ve not taken a regular job or created an employment track record. I’ve chosen to pursue this startup at the expense of a social life. I live in a tiny temporary apartment in a city I don’t particularly like where I know very few people. I’ve traded college, a career, friends, and my savings, all for this startup. Because it takes no less than this to succeed. But it doesn’t guarantee success, not by a long shot.

I’ve brought this startup as far as I can take it on my own. Several people have helped me along the way, and I am grateful for their help. But the startup is at the point now where I need some real help, equal partners, it’s time to take it to the  next level. I don’t want to use the word “I” anymore, I want to say “we”.

Xingergy needs talent and investors. If I can’t find it here in Hong Kong, I’m going to have to look elsewhere. Other startup scenes, countries, programs. Though I’d like to stay in Hong Kong, as it makes sense for the business. But why Hong Kong? Maybe I should go to wherever in the world the best talent and investors are, get some, then once we’ve developed the technology further, bring it back to Hong Kong…. ?

Xingergy will apply to the Hong Kong Science Park next week, it takes a month to apply. I’ll also be looking at other options around the world, with a focus on talent recruitment and seed stage investors. Any suggestions? Russia has some smart people…. maybe Israel? Austin? I’m not moving to California or New York, they get failing grades when it comes to startups, and, the rent is still too damn high.

어떻게 하지!!??

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3 comments

  1. California may be bad for small businesses, but to say it’s bad for startups is plain wrong.

    A lot of your business problems seem related to lack of startup network/infrastructure, and Silicon Valley probably has the densest entrepreneur network there is.

    Plus, rent’s cheap if you live in the “non-cool” areas like Fremont, San Leandro, even Oakland.

    I think you should just ask yourself “Is my business currently getting value from being in HK?” If the answer is no, leave.

    With your type of business, my intuition tells me you should first develop a solid technology outside of HK, and then when you want to start pursuing BD deals with local municipalities in China, consider moving back to HK where there is a real value in being there.

    1. I think you’re right. Though I’ve never been to California, so I don’t really have a way to quantify it beyond what I read online. Plus, I don’t have a network there, I’d be a foreigner in a foreign land. And I’d have to buy a car! I haven’t had one of those in many years……

      Currently the answer is “no”, I’m applying to the STP next week and we’ll also approach what exists of the VC/Angel system here, see if anyone bites, if not….

  2. […] then I got into waste electronics recycling, and finally microwave plasma for MSW. I’ve had help along the way (thanks Benny, Sheba, and Mr. Z), but for the most part I’ve had to do everything myself. […]

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