Speeches and Presentations

SCED's speech at Battle Silicon in Cyberport (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at Battle Silicon in Cyberport today (April 14):

Herman (Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, Mr Herman Lam), our panel of judges and moderator, ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to join you all today at Battle Silicon in Cyberport. I must first congratulate Cyberport for bringing this much sought-after Silicon Valley reality TV show to Hong Kong, injecting new vigour and vitality into our start-up community. On the other hand, I would also like to thank Battle Silicon for coming to Hong Kong, which serves to demonstrate our status as a blooming start-up hub in the region.

To me, I think the name "Battle Silicon" more or less sums up a start-up's journey. Well, maybe not necessarily "Silicon". But "Battle"? Yes, I guess all start-ups here would agree with me. A start-up's life cycle is indeed full of battles on different fronts.

First, they have to battle with time. There is this famous quote by Reid Hoffman, a founder of LinkedIn, which, I believe, resonates with many start-ups. He said, "If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late." Indeed. Start-ups will always have to battle with time to launch their product to the market even when it's not all that perfect. Once launched, start-ups can collect users' feedback and improve on the product; and if your customers do not like it, as least you'd manage to fail fast and can start working on another great idea. Start-ups, which thrive on agility, would just have to work fast to catch the wave before the opportunities are gone, with the wind.

Next, start-ups need to battle with their competitors. They have to beat their competitors to the market, and, afterwards, fight to sustain. Now, if you're not the first to the market, you would have to fight the entrenched incumbents. How? By differentiating your products such that it could scratch your customers' itch and offer them greater value than your competitors. But once you gain traction, newcomers from behind will try to pull you down. So you will have to work extra hard and continuously improve and differentiate your products to make your venture sustainable. It seems to me that this is simply a never-ending battle for start-ups.

Yet another battle is with investors. I call that a battle because investors will scrutinise your business from head to toe, asking you tough questions about your business to which you may or may not have all the right answers. But if won, the victory will be the sweetest and most rewarding.

Lastly, the most important battle, I think, is with yourself. Confidence and stamina are start-ups' vital fuel, so that they can soldier on and on in the battlefield. Success usually goes to those who think they can, who are not fearful of failure, and are ready to pursue their dreams and get into the game. Of course, you don't always win the battles, but the most important thing is that in the process you can grow stronger and more weather-proof by learning from the, well, bitter experience. After all, failure is neither final nor fatal. See failure as a prelude to success, and you would savour yet another challenge ahead of you.

Well, I think our contestants today have got their shields and swords ready. Without further ado, let today's battle begin!

Thank you.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Issued at HKT 15:00