40 Hong Kong Tech Startups To Work For (or Follow) in 2019
Are you looking for the hottest Hong Kong Startups to watch in 2019? Then you’re in the right place.
We’ve selected 40 from across different sectors and in different stages of development and financing, all worth following in 2019.
Hong Kong’s huge startup ecosystem is the fifth fastest-growing ecosystem globally and is home to more than 2,000 startups. Hong Kong’s existence has always been centred on trade. And with a population of over 7.4 million, Hong Kong is an exceptionally competitive financial and business hub described as “an international innovation powerhouse”.
Hong Kong Startups & Tech Companies
Hong Kong Fintech Tech Startups
Co-founders, Geoffrey Prentice co-founder of Skype, Hubert Shio-Hsien Tai co-founder of LU.com, and Lawrence Chu co-founder of Blackpine Group, an investment and consulting firm, united strengths to launch Oriente in 2017. With years of financial and startup experience under its belt, Oriente seeks to open doors to the underserved, underbanked communities in Southeast Asia by offering digital financial service and infrastructure to the emerging economic power of individuals and small- and medium-sized businesses in the region. The company has raised $105 million USD in two rounds of Seed and Series A funding.
Datum is creating a global data exchange by turning data into tradable commodities with its blockchain data storage and monetization solutions. Their D-app for developers offers a decentralized alternative to cloud-based applications with the “proof of storage” and “proof of access” features of a Smart-Contracts supported blockchain-based system. Currently offered on the Ethereum blockchain, future plans are to incorporate support on BigchainDB and IPFS. The software developer kit (SDK) allows the storage of unlimited amounts of decentralized data with “on-chain” guarantees with a node-based storage layer and a simple replication model that allows you to specify how many times you want the data replicated. Founded by entrepreneurs Gebhard Scherrer and Roger Haenni in 2017, the company raised $10 million USD in an ICO on Oct 29, 2017.
3. Airwallex Ltd
Airwallex is a financial technology company that offers a modular-yet-integrated solution for cross-border transactions. The modular features of the app supports global accounts, international payments, and a currency exchange module accessible via the web or as an automated API that scales to business requirements and features enhanced data collection and validation. Co-founders Jack Zhang, Jacob Dai, Ki-Lok Wong, Lucy Yueting Liu, and Max Li started the business in 2015, and have raised $102 million USD in five rounds of Seed, Series A and Series B funding.
WeLab’s aims to transform credit services by bringing them into the mobile era. Their first product, WeLend, was Hong Kong’s first online lending platform and they have since expanded into China with Wolaidai, with plans to target Southeast Asia next. Founded by Aananth Solaiyappan, Frances Kang, Kelly Wong, and Simon Loong in 2013, WeLab received a top ranking in Deloitte’s inaugural “Hong Kong Technology Fast 20” programme in 2017. To date, the company has raised more than $425 million USD in six rounds of funding.
Diginex operates in the Distributed Ledger Technologies space, helping companies to integrate their services into a decentralized blockchain-based transactional world. Diginex believes distributed ledger technology is creating a new era of opportunities for global financial markets transforming the way the world transacts and stores information. A 21-year veteran of the finance sector, Miles Pelham launched Diginex in 2017. There was no company financial information available at the writing of this article.
6. 8 Securities
8 Securities is an app interface to a zero-commission stock trading account that supports USD, HKD, and Chinese RMB. Asia-based customers access a single global account for zero-commission trading of 15,000 Hong Kong, U.S. and China H shares, with no hidden account fees or minimum balance required. The account provides consolidated buying power, automated currency exchange, and supports deposits and withdrawals. From this single interface, customers can see their portfolio’s diversification and risk score in real-time. Founded in 2012 by Mathias Helleu and Mikaal Abdulla, the firm has raised $54 million USD in four rounds of Series A and Series B financing.
CompareAsiaGroup is the largest personal finance management platform in Asia. It allows users to search for credit cards, loans, and insurance plans based on their needs and risk appetite. CompareAsiaGroup operates in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. Founded in July 2013 by Alister Musgrave, Gerald Eder, Mads Faurholt-Jorgensen, Shaun Kraft, and Stefan Bruun, the company has raised $96 million USD in Series A and B rounds with investors including Alibaba, SBI Group and H&Q Utrust.
The TNG Fintech Group e-wallet application enables peer-to-peer money transfers, instant cash withdrawals, financial services, and payment of government and utility bills across 13 countries. The startup has partnered with convenience store chain giant 7-Eleven, to accept payments and allow withdrawals at over 900 locations in Hong Kong. Founded in 2012 by Alex Kong and Takis Wong, the startup raised $115 million USD in its single round of Series A funding in 2017—“HK’s biggest Series A round,” placing the post-transaction value of the company at $565 million USD, according to DealStreet Asia.
Founded by Andy Chan and Winston Wong, Qupital is an invoice trading platform that “connects investors with a new class of assets” online–essentially, buying another’s debt. Hong Kong businesses can upload their receivables (invoices) and, through discounted rates, public and private investors fund the company through an “advance” of cash in exchange for the receivable. The startup has processed over 80 trades since its launch in 2016. Qupital has secured $5 million USD in a combination of Seed, Angel, and Convertible Note funding since March 2016.
10. Futu Securities
Futu, more than 30% owned by internet giant Tencent, is an online brokerage app that integrates trading and information aggregation with social networking. Founded by Li Hua in 2012, it allows Chinese investors to trade U.S. and Hong Kong-listed stocks, and runs mainland China’s biggest mobile stock trading app. As of July 2018, total assets on the Futu platform, mainly cash and stocks, surpassed $10 billion HKD ($1.3 billion USD), 95% of which was held in overseas bank accounts. After three rounds of Series A, B and C funding, the company has raised $215.5 million USD.
Gini is a free all-in-one personal financial management application that allows users to see all their bank accounts, e-wallets, and credit cards in one place. It tracks expenses and spending habits and, using data science, learns user preferences to send deal alerts and notifications when purchases exceed an average expense. Future updates are planned to include payment reminders, budgeting tools, and the use of AI to identify savings in areas such as utilities, mortgages, travel, and subscriptions. The trio, Calvin Lang, Raymond Wyand, and Victor Lang founded the company in 2016, and have earned $650,000 USD in Seed funding.
Neat is a mobile app designed to challenge traditional financial institutions by eliminating “paperwork, bureaucracy, and long wait times,” while providing individuals, startups, and small- and medium-sized enterprises across 100 countries a smart budgeting and savings app. Using facial-recognition technology to authenticate customers at log-in, Neat Business offers a multi-user business account with debit cards, and also features services for payroll, expense management global payment processing. Its founders, David Rosa and Igor Wos, have raised $5 million USD in Venture Capital since July 2018.
EMQ is building a remittance-focused financial network across Asia. The company partners with financial institutions and other partners to enable cross-border payments between countries including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Established in 2014, EMQ founder, Max Liu, received $6.5 million USD in Series A funding in 2017 from “well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and international venture capital (VC) firms,” according a report by DealStreet Asia.
Lion Rock Fintech offers online financial and asset allocation services, news, and robo-advisory services. Under the founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Chan Mou-fung, the iFund subdivision provides a self-service online fund distribution platform that offers more than 1,000 mutual funds from over 50 asset management companies. Lion Rock also has an online, real-time news platform, lionfin.com, dedicated to global investment news and financial management services. Lion Rock FinTech has so far raised $50 million funding from a single round of Series A financing led by Marathon Venture Partners in December 2017.
MioTech develops artificial intelligence-based software solutions for investment managers and private banks. Founders Jianyu Tu and Tao Liu launched the company in 2016. In March of the following year, the company introduced its wealth management platform MPro, which offers customizable reporting from internal and external data sources, and includes robo-advising and compliance management. MioTech has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The company has raised $7 million USD in Series A funding from–according to The Boss Magazine–China’s Zhen Fund, Hong Kong’s Horizon Ventures, and “a pair of individual investors”.
James Giancotti founded the Oddup startup in 2015, as a platform dedicated to rating other startups. The Oddup website features trading summaries of companies from the Startup, ICO, and Cryptocurrency sectors, and features its own Oddup Indices for Asia, China, India, Europe, and North America. It even features an “Investors” search feature, “connecting investors to startups.” Currently, it has more than 50,000 users, and has raised over $7.2 million USD in Seed and Series A funding.
MoneyHero.com.hk Is a financial-services comparison website, founded in 2013 by Alistair Musgrave. Moneyhero gives users free access to user-friendly comparison tools so they can compare financial products and save money on offerings such as credit cards, personal loans, and medical insurance. The company completed a $3 million USD series of fundraising in July 2014.
Hong Kong E-commerce Tech Startups
Wesurance made headlines in 2017 when it announced it launch Hong Kong’s first insurance app. The app, using AI and electronic know-your-customer (eKYC) capabilities, targets an underinsured market in Hong Kong. Its virtual assistant, “Amy,” walks customers through the process of purchasing from 13 custom-tailored policy packages. Users can update packages, extend policies, and file claims on their mobile device. The app was launched in partnership with Allied World Assurance Company and TransUnion. CEO Eddie Chan founded the business in 2017, which won the Hong Kong Smart City Awards in Economy in 2018. There was no funding information available at the writing of this article.
Goxip, an e-commerce platform for “searching, discovering, and purchasing any fashion or beauty product you ever desire,” is making inroads into the fintech sector. Goxip is building an in-house payment solution that supports installment payments. Goxip has around 500 merchants and over 6 million items on its list. The startup has expanded to Thailand and is now looking at expanding into South Korea and the Middle East. Founded in 2016 by Juliette Gimenez and YC Lau, Goxip has raised $8 million USD in three rounds of funding over the last two years.
Shopline is a DIY e-commerce platform offering prebuilt templates for creating full-feature online shops. This easy-to-use platform enables shop owners to quickly develop an online presence where they can post products, handle multiple payment methods, run marketing campaigns, and coordinate shipping logistics. Raymond Yip, Tony Wong, and Fiona Lau founded Shopline in 2013, which currently features over 120,000 shops. The most recent round of funding came from Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, bringing the total to more than $1.2 million USD in Seed funding over the last four years.
Founded in 2014 by Luke Grana and Pieter Paul Wittgen, Grana is an e-commerce platform selling wardrobe essentials made from the finest fabrics from around the world, Their garments are available in 67 countries with 15 pop-up showrooms in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the United States. Grana has raised a total of $16 million USD in five rounds of Seed and Series A funding from an impressive list of investors, including Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, Golden Gate Ventures, MindWorks Ventures and 500 Startups.
Hong Kong Travel Tech Startups
Klook, short for ‘keep looking’, was launched in 2014 by Eric Gnock Fah and Ethan Lin and has become one of Asia’s leading online “in-destination” platforms to book travel adventures. The platform collaborates with operators to curate unique adventures. After only three years since its inception, Klook now operates in over 100 destinations worldwide and has offices in 10 cities. Klook has raised $296.5 million USD through its Series D offering in August 2018.
24. Tink Labs
Founded in 2012, Tink Labs is the startup behind ‘Handy.travel.com’, a hotel-provided smartphone linking travelers with hotel concierge services, a city guide, and access to local resources, eliminating roaming charges for its guests. The startup has around 120,000 ‘Handy’ smartphones installed in over 1,700 hotel rooms, including IHG, Sheraton, Novotel, Mercure, and Holiday Inn, with 12 million customers around the world. Under the 25-year-old Founder and CEO, Terence Kwok, the company has raised $460 million USD, primarily through Venture Capital.
Hong Kong Logistics Tech Startups
Established in 2013, founders Steven Lam, Nick Tang and Reeve Chun launched GoGoVan, an on-demand van service using freight logistics on a mobile app. The idea came to them when they realised, first-hand, how difficult it was to book Hong Kong delivery drivers through dispatch centers. They now have over 30,000 professional delivery drivers in Hong Kong and as of September this year are reported to be Hong Kong’s first unicorn. The company has raised $276.5 million USD in six rounds of funding and is expanding to South Korea, Singapore, China, and Taiwan.
Boxful is an on-demand self-storage service connecting customers with warehouses. In a city where living space is at a premium, Boxful provides a full-service team that collects the customer’s belongings and stores them in a climate-controlled facility–sparing the customers need to travel to isolated industrial areas. They even return belongings on demand–often within 24 hours. Since launching in 2015 by Norman Cheung and Carl Wu, Boxful has raised over $26 million USD in three rounds of funding.
Lalamove is a logistics app for delivery services. Users can pick the vehicle to suit their needs–a motorcycle, van, or 5.5-ton truck, set a pick-up point and drop-off locations and track each delivery in real-time. Founded by Chow Shing-Yuk (Shing) and Santit Jirawongkraisorn in 2013 under the name EasyVan, Lalamove has secured $161.5 million USD in Venture Capital and Series A and B funding over the last five years. Lalamove plans to roll out its services across 100 cities in Asia.
Freightos is a logistics startup for the international freight marketplace. Powered by Freightos technology and working with global supply chain companies, Freightos is available in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the U.S. Founded by Zvi Schreiber, in 2012, Freightos has raised over $92 million USD from six funding rounds that include investors MSR Capital, Annox Capital, Israel Cleantech Ventures, Robert Mylod, Aleph, and GE Ventures.
Founded by Augustin Ceyrac, Paul Lugagne Delpon, Reuben Philip Abraham and Tommaso Tamburnotti, Easyship has attracted $4 million USD in Series A funding. Easyship is a technology company that provides customers with a simple customer-friendly solution to ship their orders worldwide. Through its free software, Easyship integrates with more than 100 freight-service providers and compares costs and delivery times. Easyship also provides warehousing services to its customers.
Hong Kong EdTech and Employment Tech Startups
Accompany’s unique offering is a database of the senior decision makers throughout the world. Using AI, Accompany checks billions of web pages to provide real-time, up-to-date profiles for tens of millions of companies and hundreds of millions of people. Accompany is considered an essential networking app for bosses and anyone looking at landing their dream job. Founded in 2013 by Matthias Ruhl and Ryan McDonough and the the former leader of Google Analytics, Amy Chang, Accompany has recently raised $20 million USD from Ignition Partners, bringing their total funding after three rounds to $40.6 million.
Using AI for character assessment and “success prediction” of staffing needs, Pymetrics is the next-generation in career-search platforms. Its AI algorithms build a cognitive and emotional trait profile of a company’s top performers, and uses the information to help companies improve recruitment, employee retention, and team diversity. Pymetrics’ app also helps people to find jobs suited to them by assessing personal characteristics. Founded by Harvard/MIT PhDs, Frida E Polli and Julie Yoo, Pymetrics has raised over $56 million USD in Series A and Series B funding since 2016.
MommyDaddyMe (MDM) offers a highly secure, social-networking and knowledge-sharing space for children four to 12 years of age. MommyDaddyMe connects children children, parents, and educators on a user-friendly, “responsible” site while encouraging cultural exchange between its network of children around the world. The site is designed to help parents prepare their children for the future by teaching both academic and soft (people) skills. Founded in 2016 by Javed Rahman and his wife Leslie Wang, the site also features parenting tips and workshops to develop parent-child communications. There was no funding information available at the time of writing.
Science and Technology Startups
SenseTime is an AI startup that develops advanced technologies for facial recognition, machine learning, and smart city systems. SenseTime has already provided AI services for over 400 companies. The AI startup announced in April 2018 that it has raised $600 million USD from investors including Alibaba Group Holding, Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and China’s Suning Commerce Group. SenseTime has already reached “unicorn” status and has received more than $2.6 billion in seven funding rounds since it was founded by Xiaolan Xu in 2014. MIT Technology Review reports that SenseTime is considered the most valuable AI-based startup in the world.
Banuba Development started as an AI lab using machine learning and facial recognition technologies to create real-world environments in augmented reality. Today they offer a development platform for AR-enabled mobile applications and camera technologies for efficient brand building in e-commerce and advertising. Their app is making waves in the real estate sector, featuring AR walkabouts of listed properties. Viktor Prokopenya founded the company in 2016 and has raised $12 million USD in two rounds of Venture Capital funding.
35. Insight Robotics
Rex Sham and Kevin Chan launched Insight Robotics to provide decision makers with geographic analysis to quantify risks and prevent disasters. Its geospatial intelligence platform, Insight Globe, displays real-time data to enable natural resource and infrastructure managers to assess risks and detect natural disaster threats. Founded in 2009, the company has raised $13 million USD from Seed, Series A, and Venture Capital funding.
Lifestyle and Wellbeing
A digital health startup, Prenetics partners with insurance companies to provide policy holders with genetic tests to determine predispositions to certain medical conditions. Tests are currently available in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand, and the company claims to have processed more than 200,000 DNA samples so far. Founded by Lawrence Tzang, Danny Yeung and Prof Michael Yang in 2014, Prenetics has raised more than $52 million in Series A and Series B funding.
“Eliminate stress and cultivate focus” is the motto of the startup, Silentmode. Building high-end audio systems into a memory-foam mask, they deliver “Psychoacoustic and Therapeutic sonic experiences” with passive noise isolation to turn down the volume of life. Combined with customized breathwork training, it provides athletes, business executives, and A-type personalities an immersive relaxation experience. Founded by Bradley Dowding-Young and Jens Nielsen in 2016, Silentmode has raised $150,000 USD in Seed capital since its launch in May 2017.
From silence to music–Soundbrenner was founded in 2014 by Florian Simmendinger, Julian Vogels, and Nishant Srivastava, and builds wearable tools for musicians, including Soundbrenner Pulse, a metronome for musicians. To date, Soundbrenner has raised $2 million USD in three rounds of Seed funding.
Founded in 2012 by Wallace Wong and Kow Ping, Well Being Digital (WBD101) develops wearable biometric technology. Winner of “The Best Wearable Mobile Technology Award” in 2016 in a field of 930 competitors including Intel, Epson, and Motorola, Well Being Digital is definitely one to watch. Their technology measures biometrics under continuous motion and sends the information to a smartphone via Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth 4.0) and computes physiological information, for example, a heart rate. They have integrated their custom algorithms onto infrared sensors on an accelerometer (to measure static and dynamic motions) and gyroscope (measure or maintain orientation), to help big brands add value to their wearable medical devices and sensor hubs. We were unable to locate any funding information at the writing of this article.
Alyn Watkins’ Bravera is a start-up that incentivizes fitness by connecting personal fitness goals with fundraising. Individuals or teams pick a challenge, invite friends and families to sponsor them, and raise money while they train. By connecting with other fitness apps and wearables, they can automatically detect when you’ve reached certain milestones and unlock pledged funds. Founded in July 2017.