5 Benefits To Launching Your Startup in Hong Kong
03/10/2019 — by Elizabeth Ching
So you’re thinking of launching your startup in Hong Kong?
For entrepreneurs all over the world, Hong Kong has always been an attractive place to start a business. As a top financial hub for many entrepreneurs, Hong Kong has one of the most competitive and stable economies and relatively low tax rates.
When it comes to startups, Hong Kong is similarly rising to be one of the most friendly cities for new founders and entrepreneurs to start their businesses.
Here are 5 benefits of launching your startup in Hong Kong.
It’s easy to incorporate
Hong Kong is known for having an entrepreneur economy and along with the favourable tax system, it’s very straightforward and fairly inexpensive to incorporate a company. (You can find the basic fees charged by the Hong Kong government here.)
Your entire application can even be done remotely, and you’ll have your company opened in a couple days.
If you’re handling incorporating your company yourself, you can submit your incorporation documents either online through the 24-hour Companies E-registry or in person at the Companies Registry.
That being said, most people choose to hire a professional service provider to take care of all of this on their behalf. There may be some additional fees if you are hiring an agency to do this (i.e. handling the paperwork or providing a (virtual) office address). The total costs are, however, still low compared to establishing a company in most other offshore jurisdictions.
If you’re looking for more information, here’s a handy guide to incorporation in Hong Kong.
You’ll be launching into a global business hub
Another benefit of launching your startup in Hong Kong? It’s an incredibly business-friendly city.
Hong Kong is widely recognised as a global business hub and the location of choice for many international companies. What’s more, unlike many other (offshore) jurisdictions, Hong Kong law allows foreigners and non-residents to be the sole shareholder and director of a company.
The city comes in third on Forbes’ list of best countries to do business, and first, according to PWC, for having the world’s most business-friendly tax system.
The startup community in particular is also incredibly international – according to InvestHK, 35% of founders come from outside Hong Kong. Vibrant sectors include fintech, followed by e-commerce, supply chain management, and logistics technology.
Hong Kong is home to a growing number of startup accelerators
The startup ecosystem is growing and thriving here in Hong Kong – the presence of startups also attracts a number of other organisations that want to see it grow.
There are no shortage of accelerators in Hong Kong, all with the goal of training and enabling young startups and founders with the tools they need to successfully launch and grow their businesses. Accelerators typically provide funding, coaching, training and access to a network, and often include office space.
Here are a list of just a few accelerators in Hong Kong:
- SuperCharger is a leading FinTech accelerator, dedicated to taking startups into their corporate-sponsored accelerator program. Most participating startups are later-stage, B2B (Business-to-Business solutions) looking to partner with banks.
- Brinc has a variety of different accelerator programs, for connected hardware, robotics, food technology, and energy startups.
- Betatron’s program is 3 months long, and was founded by a group of VCs in Hong Kong. They won 1st place for Outstanding Contribution to the Asian Startup Ecosystem 2019 for the Greater China area and 2nd place for All-Asia.
- China Accelerator helps internet startups cross-borders from within China to beyond, and also from outside into the Chinese market.
What’s more, the presence of startups also attracts a lot of venture capitalists, especially because of Hong Kong’s geographical proximity to China as well.
There are also other dedicated communities to tech, like Cyberport and Science Park, which are government-backed organisations that act as hubs for startups. These two communities offer office space and incubators as well. If you immerse yourself in a startup community, you can find a lot of support when it comes to raising money too.
There’s no shortage of flexible office space options
While this might be surprising to someone who’s not familiar with Hong Kong, another benefit of launching in Hong Kong is actually the variety of flexible office space options there are.
It’s no secret that Hong Kong property is expensive. And if you’re looking for an office space as a startup, it can be difficult to put down a deposit in an office building (let alone commit to a year long lease) when you’re strapped for cash, and don’t know for sure what size the team’s going to be a year from now. But the good news is that in response to this, a number of co-working spaces have begun popping up all over Hong Kong, built with entrepreneurs and startups in mind.
Most co-working spaces offer the flexibility that many new businesses need at the beginning. For example, most offer hot desks as well as private offices. Along with this is more flexible options for renting the space, such as month-by-month memberships, instead of year-long contracts.
What’s more, because of the crowd that is typically attracted to co-working spaces, it also gives you greater opportunities to connect with peers and other similar entrepreneurial-minded folks.
You’ll join a vibrant (and growing) startup community
Hong Kong is ranked 5th in the top twenty fastest growing startup ecosystems in the world. Along with the variety of accelerators and VC attention that Hong Kong has, this also means that the startup community in Hong Kong is active and vibrant.
Any given week, there are a number of startup and entrepreneurial events put on by different organisations. There are always opportunities to learn, network, and be inspired by peers and other passionate people in the startup space.
A good place to get plugged into the local startup community is to connect with the Whub community, who regularly host startup events and partner with other organisations. Also, many other startups also host their own events related to their specific industries, which you can browse through on event sites like Eventbrite. At Neat, for example, we host entrepreneur-centric workshops, seminars, and community events (to meet our user community).
We’d also recommend subscribing to the mailing lists of various co-working spaces, since co-working spaces are often the venues of these events and meet ups. Many co-working spaces offer memberships that include other valuable perks aimed to help support and grow burgeoning startups too. Ooosh specifically also offers growth initiatives such as a mentorship program, a trusted vendor list, access to their VC arm, Catalyst Ventures (as well as connections to ~80% of the VCs in Hong Kong).
So you want to launch your startup in Hong Kong?
There are a lot of communities, businesses, and infrastructure here designed to support startups like yours – and the community is growing. In short, if you decide to launch your startup here in Hong Kong, you’ll be in good company.
Elizabeth Ching is the PR & Content Manager at Neat, a modern alternative to banks, built for entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs. With every Neat Business account, we offer corporate expense cards that can work in tandem with a simple app on your phone.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.