IC Studio officially hired our first employee and moved to our first office on 2nd January 2016, which means we’ve just passed our one year anniversary.
And what a great year it’s been…
One of the highlights of the year was establishing IC Studio as a key player in the Hong Kong startup ecosystem.
Using our unique business model, we partner with non-technical entrepreneurs and help them build tech startups using our experienced team of developers, designers, and marketers.
It’s been a busy year, as over the past twelve months, we’ve launched three of our own startups:
- Hopsee – a taxi-sharing app
- QuikSpaces – an online platform to find flexible workspaces
- Reach-All – an online platform which allows large organisations to instantly communicate with all of their staff
Betatron Startup Accelerator
We’ve also just launched Betatron. The first investment focused startup accelerator programme in Hong Kong backed by VCs and Investors.
It’s been a real pleasure and privilege to work with our four founding partners on this exciting project – MindWorks Ventures, Vectr Ventures, CoCoon Ignite Ventures, & The Aria Group. Each one of the partners brings their own unique skill-set and experience, which adds tremendous value to our startups.
Our first cohort will launch on Monday 13th February. Each startup will be given hands-on mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts, which will help them optimize their business and position them to raise funding at the end of the programme.
Each startup will receive US$30,000 funding via a SAFE note and also will be given dedicated workspace at the ‘Betatron Lab’ at WeWork in Causeway Bay for the four month programme duration.
In 2017, we will be enhancing the Betatron programme even further. Our aim is to accept more startups per cohort, run two cohorts per year, grow the network of mentors and investors, and provide more resources to startups through partnership programs. With our first cohort, we have seen tremendous response, positive feedback, we will continue building on the back of this momentum to make Betatron most successful accelerator in Hong Kong.
CTO Advisory Services
In Hong Kong, especially, it’s incredibly hard to find a great technical cofounder for your startup.
Without one, most entrepreneurs are left with the difficult task of outsourcing their tech development to a third-party.
But, this naturally brings up a multitude of challenges, including – deciding upon the optimal fee structure, verifying that the work completed is of high-quality, while also trying to optimize the communication flow between all parties. These are all issues which we help startups address.
As well as launching our own startups, we’ve also provided CTO advisory services to four startups over the past year:
- Sentifi – a financial market intelligence platform
- Instant Karma – an online platform bringing volunteers and non-profits together
- Altitude 22 – an online coaching platform
- StyleCab – a personal stylist connection platform
The IC Studio Team
Taking a startup from the idea stage to successfully executing a finished product, isn’t easy.
Which is why our goal is to always ensure that we have a talented team who can take on any challenge, and then design, build, launch, and market, both B2C and B2B business models.
Nelson Cheng, IC Studio’s CTO, expressed that he’s, “Very proud of the great team we’ve built, as we’ve accomplished a lot in only a short period of time. Meeting all the young and energetic entrepreneurs is like rewinding the clock back 18-years ago when I first started my first company.”
Spend Time Talking to Your Customers
Launching four of your own startups within a year is hard work. And it’s a testament to the productive team which we’re building here.
It’s great to talk about the highlights, but experiencing failure often teaches life’s biggest lessons.
So what has the team learned during this past year?
After spending some time to reflect, Rafal Czerniawski, IC Studio’s CEO, shared that he’s learned, “It’s important to spend as much time as possible on customer research to increase the chance of building a product that customers want.”
He recommends for entrepreneurs to spend as much time as possible talking to your customers, “To ensure that your product is compelling enough to make people change their default behaviour. It’s much easier to pivot with a paper prototype, than an already built working product. So spend as much time as possible understanding your customer in the cheapest possible way, before embarking on product development.”
Focus, Discipline, & Hard Work
After launching four startups within the past year, Rafal noticed, “While getting product build appears to be the key obstacle at first, the moment of truth comes when the product is launched and customer acquisition needs to move beyond your friends, the reality and hard grind comes right after the euphoria of the initial launch.”
Another thing he learned was the short supply of technical co-founders and talent in Hong Kong. It’s a much bigger issue than he first realised, which has given him the extra focus and motivation needed to ensure that IC Studio can help more entrepreneurs in the future.
But the focus now is figuring out how to scale the model effectively. This is the current challenge.
The Next 12 Months…
IC Studio’s second year has officially begun.
The plan is to scale the CTO Advisory services so that we can not only help more entrepreneurs and startups, but also make sure our services are even more affordable to those who are on a tight budget.
Systemization is the key to success in business. This is something which I’ve personally realised over the past year.
Whether that’s a computer or a human following a system, if you don’t have a system in place, you don’t have anything to scale.
If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend the book – The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It talks about the importance of creating systems for your business, and that without one, you’re effectively just building a complicated job for yourself.
The key over the next year is to systematize IC Studio’s Incubation program so that we can efficiently source and take on more entrepreneurs into our team.
The incubation program is perfect for anyone who wants to build a tech startup, but doesn’t have the technical knowledge to successfully execute their idea.
Whereas, the accelerator programme we’re building with Betatron, is perfect for entrepreneurs who have identified and validated a problem, already have a working prototype, and now need help to optimize, scale and raise funding.
Through the incubator and the accelerator programmes, we hope to add tremendous value to Hong Kong’s startup ecosystem, and ensure that local entrepreneurs have the necessary resources available to them, to build amazing companies.
Next year, another area we want to focus on is helping corporates successfully innovate.
From our team’s experience, we know first-hand how difficult it is for large corporates to launch new business lines and adapt quickly to new technology.
Some of the biggest companies in the world, like Cisco, Google, Facebook, Qualcomm and Intel, all realise the importance to continually innovate. Which is why they all have separate corporate innovation arms and initiatives.
But for other large corporates, who maybe don’t have the internal technical capacity, expertise, or the billions of dollars that these tech giants have, there’s an opportunity for us to help.
By working directly with large corporates, we can minimize their internal risk and speed up execution time, when they want to research, test, build, and launch new products or concepts.
IC Studio can be their research and development lab, helping them build and beta-test innovative new technologies.
It just isn’t possible for the internal teams at large corporates to move at the same pace as we can. Their complex hierarchy and slow decision making processes, makes innovation incredibly slow and challenging.
Can We Help You?
Are you a large corporate looking to innovate?
Or are you an entrepreneur and need help to execute, optimize, or scale your startup?
If so, please reach out to talk to us. Our mission is to make sure we can help you, whatever stage you’re at!