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SCED's speech at Battle Silicon in Cyberport

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at Battle Silicon in Cyberport today (April 20):

Herman (Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, Mr Herman Lam), Diana (Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ding Ding TV and co-producer of Battle Silicon, Ms Diana Ding), our panel of judges, Dr Lee (EQ mentor of Battle Silicon, Dr Weichien Lee), ladies and gentlemen,

     Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to join all of you here today. I still remember vividly the last time we gathered for Battle Silicon, here in Cyberport, almost exactly a year ago. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to the Battle Silicon team for coming to Hong Kong for the third time since then. Thanks must also go to Cyberport for bringing the much sought after Silicon Valley reality TV show to Hong Kong yet again.

     Over the past few years, "startup" has become a buzzword in Hong Kong, and we have seen a lot of exciting things happening in our startup community. Quite a number of our startups have made remarkable achievements - some have secured substantial investments, some have been acquired by large corporations, while others have carved their niches in the global marketplace. In fact, I am delighted to know that one Cyberport incubatee, after pitching on this show, succeeded in securing funding for their expansion into the American market.

     These success stories prompted me to contemplate what it is like to build a successful startup. To me, starting a new business is rather like trying to cook a new dish. Both involve creating something new from scratch. Both require know-how, creativity, adventurous spirit, determination to succeed, and, perhaps most importantly, confidence in yourself and your idea.

     If we see setting up a new business as creating a new dish, we first have to come up with a workable recipe. Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, once said, "Every moment in business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system ... And the next Mark Zuckerberg won't create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them." Successful startups should identify the gaps in the market and come up with fresh ideas.

     With a new recipe you need the right ingredients. In the case of startups, the ingredients are teammates who provide you with the requisite skills and brains and who will go through thick and thin with you.

     After all the hard work and toil, your product is finally ready for showtime. This is, however, not yet the moment to celebrate. The market will ultimately decide whether a new product is a hit or a miss. The new dish may look and taste perfect to you, but the merciless market may not accept it. So if you are a startup and your market does not take to your new product, it means you need to put in extra effort, be it product fine-tuning or strengthened promotion, to make it click with your potential customers.

     Even if your dish attracts many customers, in an ever-evolving market you don't stand still. Continuous improvement is the way to stay competitive. You need to differentiate your products to keep your customers interested and offer greater value than your competitors. You may be awarded with a Michelin 3-star this year, but you will fall out of the list if you don't keep on wowing your customers.

     On this note, I will pass the stage back to our experts, as I am sure we are all very eager to devour our contestants' new dishes. I wish today's event great success, and all participants an inspiring experience. Thank you.

Ends/Monday, April 20, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:23