From Fluorescent Fish To Virtual Reality Art, Here’s What The 2016 Gen.T Listers Have Been Up To
October 27, 2017 | BY Lee Williamson
Our 2016 Gen.T listers continue to smash boundaries—here’s how
In 2016 we launched the inaugural Gen.T List, revealing 100 up-and-coming game changers we had identified as the talents shaping the future of Hong Kong. And boy, are they proving us right.
The Gen.T List celebrates the very top talent across a diverse range of industries, which is demonstrable from the list of accomplishments the listers have achieved so far. From local pop-ups to global expansions, the 2016 Gen.T listers continue to live up to their billing as the finest of their generation. And the most impressive part? This is just a year in—the best is yet to come.
Chow’s cocktail bar The Woods disrupted the Hong Kong cocktail scene with its creative concoctions and emphasis on seasonal ingredients when it opened back in 2014. Since appearing on the 2016 Gen.T list, the mixologist-turned-entrepreneur has directed the same industry know-how and innovative spirit towards two new concepts: Kwoon, a brand of canned artisanal cocktails for discerning drinkers on the move, and The Woods’ Annex—an intimate liquor library that offers tasting flights of spirits from over 400 craft distilleries around the world. “We hope to educate and broaden the minds of people when it comes to tasting and appreciating spirits,” says Chow. “The end goal of all this is to help everyone drink better.” Cheers to that.
Scion of one of Myanmar’s most progressive business families, Pun has spent the last few years building Pun + Projects, his Yangon-based hospitality group that includes a growing number of restaurants and TS1, a pop-up hub for contemporary arts. This summer, Pun brought his seemingly boundless creative energy back to Hong Kong, teaming up with private equity specialist-cum-restaurateur Jake Astor and creative Korean chef Mina Park to launch Hawkr, a vibrant Quarry Bay spot serving up a range of classic Southeast Asian hawker dishes. After a successful launch, the power trio of entrepreneurs are already planning additional locations.
Syed Asim Hussain
The co-founder of Black Sheep Restaurants has been doing what he does best over the last year—opening innovative restaurants we can’t get enough of. One of the latest, New Punjab Club, pays homage to Hussain’s Punjabi roots and is a tribute to his father, who owned ‘80s hotspot The Mughal Room. “Even before I knew I wanted to become a restaurateur, the hospitality seeds where planted growing up in Punjab,” says Hussain. So what’s next for the rapidly expanding restaurant group? “Just keeping the juggernaut rolling,” says Hussain. “We have one more opening scheduled for this year and we’re hoping to be able to announce our first international soon.”
As corporate executive of Emperor Group, Yeung already has a number of ground-breaking projects under his belt, including Repulse Bay lifestyle hotspot The Pulse. This month, he and Emperor Group added another, opening Hong Kong’s first ultra-luxe cinema in Central’s Entertainment Building. Emperor Cinemas brings the global trend of luxury movie theatres to Hong Kong courtesy of VIP private screening rooms, plush leather armchairs and high-end snacks and cocktails from the concessions stand Roomsbar, managed by Maximal Concepts. With gin and tonic pouring from the “soda” fountain and a host of high-end twists on traditional US diner food on offer, we’ll never enter a sticky-floored cinema again.
Kwan’s startup GoGoVan, which he co-founded with university friends Nick Tang and 2017 Gen.T lister Steven Lam, has had a truly momentous year, becoming Hong Kong’s first-ever “unicorn” (a start-up with a valuation of more than one billion dollars). The app, which is often dubbed the “Uber for logistics”, merged with 58 Suyun, the freight arm of Mainland Chinese online classifieds juggernaut 58 Home, to create Asia’s largest online platform in intra-city logistics. We’d say Kwan’s go-going places.
Filmmaker, photographer and environmental activist Lee-Davies has entered the world of augmented reality with his new venture, Awethentic Studio. The forward-thinking production house helps luxury brands create 360-degree digital experiences using the brand’s Awethentic app. Early adopters to the breakthrough tech include Cerruti 1881, Michael Kors and Hong Kong Tatler. We were so impressed with the app we teamed up with Awethentic to produce our first-ever AR cover to celebrate the magazine’s 40th anniversary.
US native Allen has overseen a period of rapid growth since taking the reins at Compare Asia Group in 2016. This summer, the group—which operates seven financial comparison platforms across Asia, including Hong Kong’s Money Hero—saw a successful round of Series B funding led by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. Backers including the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund invested a total of US$50 million, no doubt impressed by Compare Asia Group’s user base of 28 million people in 2016, making it the most popular online personal finance marketplace in Asia.
Biotech entrepreneur Chen’s start-up Vitargent is on a mission to improve food safety standards in Hong Kong through the power of fish—or, more specifically, genetically modified fish embryos that literally light up in the presence of toxins. Earlier this year Vitargent released Test-It, which is being marketed as the world’s first consumer product safety platform that provides information based on the research findings of advanced bio-tech testing. The goal is to help consumers make safer product choices based on objective scientific data. Not that Chen’s fishing for compliments or anything.
Yu’s online education platform Snapask, which connects students to expert tutors for on-demand homework help, made headlines this year when it raised US$5 million in Series A funding and announced bold plans for expansion. “In 2017, we have expanded from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore to five additional Asian countries. We are aiming to become a global company by bringing our service to over 30 countries by 2020,” says Yu. And market growth isn’t the only area where Yu has big ambitions: “We’re working on developing our machine learning techniques to provide faster and more accurate insights for our student users.” Snapask, where on earth were you when we were in school?
Not content with being the creative force behind digital creative agency Indicube, which she co-founded with fellow 2016 Gen.T lister Antonia Li, Chao has turned her attention to a newly launched studio in Wan Chai. The space, called Ourhaus, is “a creative house built especially for artistic collaborations”, says Chao. “The idea was inspired by Warhol's factory—not for its fuelled frenzy, but for its wild, creative productivity.” It’s still early days for the space, however. “Everything is still under wraps at the moment, but new developments will be unfolding within weeks.”
Self-confessed recovering shopaholic Kuok turned her passion into a successful e-commerce business by launching luxury online consignment store Guiltless, a platform to buy and sell pre-loved fashion. As well as saving customers a pretty penny, Guiltless wants to help save the environment through advocating a sustainable approach to fashion. Now the previously online-only brand is hosting a pop-up until 21 November. Through taking over a brick-and-mortar space in Central, Kuok hopes to “popularise the concept of second-hand shopping in Hong Kong, which unfortunately is still lagging behind”.
In-demand ink artist Ho is known for pushing boundaries, but the multicultural Hong Konger is in a whole new dimension with her new exhibition—literally. For Ascendance, on display across two Hong Kong galleries this month, Ho has created immersive 3D paintings using Google’s Tilt Brush software. Gallery-goers will don VR headsets to enter the 360-degree environments. “I’m trying to figure out what purpose technology serves in creating dynamic, legitimate artworks. This will really test the boundaries of ink—if it can even be named that,” says Ho.
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