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Empowering Young Entrepreneurs Program (EYE Program) 2014
Hong Kong has been one of history’s most successful incubators for entrepreneurs. Our goal with this program will be to help sustain and enhance that culture, enabling the next generation of digital innovators in Hong Kong.- Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
We are pleased to become a key partner of Google to create a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem in Hong Kong; encourage students and young entrepreneurs to innovate, think big; and connect to the global community of entrepreneurs.- CUHK Vice-Chancellor Professor Joseph Sung
The Internet creates opportunities that make it easy for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, for small businesses to grow, and for all businesses to increase productivity. It’s easier than ever to go from a start-up in a garage to a “micro-multinational” with global reach. Hong Kong's well-developed infrastructure, free flow of information and ideas, and entrepreneurial spirits provide an ideal environment in which innovations can be unleashed.
Google and The Chinese University of Hong Kong partner to boost entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, with the launch of “Empowering Young Entrepreneurs Program (EYE Program)” aiming to empower young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. This one-year program will help students and young entrepreneurs in Hong Kong to innovate and connect with the global community, and include:
- An mentorship program designed with CUHK; this will give entrepreneurs in Hong Kong access to mentors that can often be hard to reach in Hong Kong.
- A sponsored trip for outstanding program participants to Google headquarters in Mountain View, U.S. to meet and connect with experts in the global community; and
- Efforts to help young entrepreneurs overcome the startup costs and isolation that come with high rents and a fragmented entrepreneurship community.
Google and CUHK also released the first comprehensive research assessing the viability of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem “Entrepreneurship Ecosystem of Hong Kong.” It revealed strong startup ecosystem growth in Hong Kong (Interim Report, English Infographic / Chinese Infographic) released in September 2014. The final report “Crouching Tigers, Hidden Dragons” is released in April 2014 (Full Report).
- Empowered Hong Kong’s younger generation to innovate, launch new businesses, and connect with Silicon Valley.
- Initiated a group of passionate experts, entrepreneurs, and investors to support, participate and coach on startups.
- Lifted Hong Kong over its ecological shortcomings in talent diversity, mentorship, and scope. In ways that no others have done in Hong Kong we brought the disconnected community together to cultivate innovative startups.
Boot Camp for Aspiring Entrepreneurs (Feb – Apr 2014)
- Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, announced the program in Hong Kong in November 2013. 500 participants and guests attended a kick-off event on a Sunday afternoon in February 2014. (Video Highlight, Announcement by Eric Schmidt, Google and Prof. Joseph Sung, CUHK)
- The program got over 900 applications who are Hong Kong youngsters aged 18-35 with a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation. Over 600 participants join the Cross-Disciplinary Entrepreneurial Skills Training from February to April 2014. Participants learn the basics of entrepreneurship and technology know-how. 7 training workshops were held. 3 Mixer gatherings with inspiring speakers were held to stimulate ideas and facilitate team formation.
- Upon the completion of training, participants will be formed into teams to work on business proposals.
Pitching for a Place in the Mentorship Program (May – Jun 2014)
- 200+ individuals (40% have entrepreneurial experience) formed teams and submitted business proposals, reviewed by 50 professionals in Hong Kong.
- Presentation training was held to get them prepared for the Presentation Day.
- 80 teams (201 individuals) were selected to pitch their ideas, business plans and/or prototypes in front of a panel of experienced judges at Presentation Day on June 7, 2014. (Video Highlight, Pitch Video Playlist)
- 40 teams were selected to receive one-on-one mentorship and advanced training from June to September 2014.
Phase 2: Mentorship (Jun – Sep 2014)
- 98 individuals received one-on-one mentorship, with the support of 40 mentors.
- A meetup was held for better mentor-mentee matching. 4 Mentor Alignment Sessions were held for the mentors to equip them with better understanding and skills on mentoring.
- 4 In-depth Trainings were held to teach the mentee teams the roll-out of a minimum viable product (MVP). Mentees also meet with experts who share valuable insights and their entrepreneurship stories on 3 Speaker Night.
- 20 teams were selected to pitch in front of a panel of judges in September 2014 and top 6 teams were selected and sponsored to the Mountain View trip in October 2014.
Phase 3: Journey to Mountain View (October 2014)
- Top 6 teams (14 individuals) with up-and-running startups and their mentors visited Silicon Valley for a week in October 2014. The six teams, with great ideas, embrace the use of technology and address needs/ challenges of everyday's life - such as rebuild connections among neighbors, serve and benefit local independent (“indie”) music market, connect temporary and casual staffing industry online and fill the gap, etc. (Video Highlight)
- Learnt from Google about innovation and 10x thinking, followed by a campus tour.
- Connected with Evernote, Smule, SVForum, Startup Grind, Stanford, SkyDeck of UC Berkeley, nestGSV, Wearables World, and Institute for the Future.
- Full-day pitching to 500 Startups, Plug and Play, and Altos Ventures. All investors and EIRs were impressed and changed their perception of Hong Kong - not just an international financial center but a place with energetic entrepreneurs.
- Over 250 guests including EYE Program teams and mentors, business leaders, government representatives, founders and influencers in Hong Kong attended "The beginning of an end: a celebration with Hong Kong startups and the EYE Program community” on November 26, 2014, calling for a more connected entrepreneurial ecosystem to boost innovation. (Video Highlight)
Six Outstanding EYE Program Teams
After rounds of pitching and review of their business plans, six outstaning EYE Program teams are selected, among the 40 teams that received mentorship, to visit Silicon Valley during October 19-24:
- HITA (Hands In The Air) is an integrated music tool that connects independent music to people globally; something that is missing in the market at the moment. Today including our consulting business and HITA, the team has grown from a three-people team in a crowded 60 sq. ft. room to now a 13-people team in a 600 sq. ft. (yet still crowded) office at the Hong Kong Science Park.
- Talk-now is a tool that allows deaf people to speak with able bodies. With110,000 deaf people in Hong Kong and Macau, our product can translate sign language to voice language, helps users to save at least 50% communication time and communicate with able bodies independently.
- Trafluence is an online marketplace reflecting the new trend in social media branding and how people travel. We aim to empower people to explore the world with their influence and skills, while creating value for businesses globally. We connect tourism dependent service providers with talented and influential travellers around the world. Not only can adventurers get discounts and perks, businesses will benefit from the traveller's skills, and increased social media exposure globally.
- Optica aims to use technology to
enhance the power of the human eye, and help everyone to “See Better Live Better”. The team adopts a software approach called Binocular Video Tone Mapping (BVTM) in helping people to overcome the hardware’s lack of dynamic range, and help people who suffer from color blindness.
- JOBDOH is a last minute booking and scheduling mobile platform for casual workers. It optimizes the temporary and casual staffing industry, and reduces the inefficiency embedded in current system by facilitating more job matches between employers and casual employees. The solution caters to all SMEs or individuals requiring labor help, we plan to start with the hospitality industry, which our findings show a large turnover and needs to hire temporary/casual help.
- Myflat.hk is a private neighbourhood social network to rebuild the connection among neighbours and strengthen the local community spirit. It allows people to communicate within two levels - “district level” for a wider community; and “estate level” for people living in the same estate or building with verification process applied.