These Are Hong Kong's Hottest Startups, According To Tech Guru Kent Ho

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May 30, 2018 | BY Marianna Cerini

The WEF Young Global Leader opens up about new technologies and Hong Kong startups

In May 2018, the World Economic Forum named Kent Ho, founder of venture capital fund s28 Capital, as one of its Young Global Leaders of 2018, a community of 100 of the world’s most promising business professionals, entrepreneurs, technologists, artists and social innovators under 40. 

Find out what Kent thought about the announcement and what technology he's got his eyes on right now:

Young Global Leaders are shaping the future in a number of sectors. How does it feel to be part of the class of 2018?

I am extremely humbled, especially if you look at my global peers. They are an incredible group of people from different countries, sectors, industries, knowledge areas. They don’t have just great ideas, they are change-makers. It’s an incredible honour to be named alongside them.

I also feel very excited to be part of the organisation and the forum, and I am curious to see how we’ll cross paths and work together. Many of us are used to just talking to people from the same field. I look forward to seeing what the cross-pollination will bring.

What kind of involvement will you have with the class?

Right now it’s really about being able to spend time with them. It’s a five-year programme, so I really want to get to know everyone and see what kind of ideas can be spawned from our time together.

See also: Kent Ho Named Young Global Leader By World Economic Forum

Did you expect to be recognised?

No, it was a surprise. There’s a long nomination process, followed by lengthy interviews and more reviews, back and forth etc. So I was hoping, of course, but really had no idea until it was officially announced. Which, again, makes this even more humbling.

See more: Investing In The Future: 4 New Technologies To Diversify Your Portfolio

You work between Silicon Valley and Hong Kong. How does our city fare when it comes to technology?

I think Hong Kong is in a unique place and time. We’ve long been one of the top financial centres in the world, but with the mainland becoming the powerhouse it is, we have to reinvent ourselves for the generations to come.

Technology and innovation are ways to do so—Carrie Lam and the new administration have actually committed a remarkable budget to those sectors—and there’s plenty of talent to make things happen. We have the opportunity to reposition our identity. It’s all in the early stages, but I can see it happening.

See also: Kent Ho: The Startup King Who's Shaping Our Future

Technology-wise, what excites you most today?

AI and robotics are certainly on my mind, but, more broadly, I am very interested in seeing how cloud-based software can and will be disruptive in traditional industries.

You are a member of the Tatler Tribe, the panel that helps select our annual Generation T List. How has the experience been?

I’ve felt very honoured to be able to give my input for that initiative. I think it’s very exciting that Tatler is pushing something like Gen.T. Hong Kong is renowned for its tycoon families.

Being able to recognise the young, up-and-coming and independent entrepreneurs making a difference not just in Hong Kong but in the region is incredibly important. It’s worth celebrating, particularly so that the next generation can look up to these people.

See more: Would You Trust An AI Bot To Hire Your Team? Gen.T Listers Weigh In

Have you been watching any startups and young ventures here?

SenseTime [an AI venture] is definitely one. It’s a great example of a Hong Kong company that has Mainland China as its main market and is doing incredibly well. Then you have Gogovan [co-founded by 2017 Gen.T lister Steven Lam] and Lalamove, of course—unicorns and very recognisable.

But there are also a few companies that people don’t necessarily identify as Hong Kong-based that are very interesting. Hypebeast [founded by 2017 Gen.T lister Kevin Ma], Casetify [founded by another 2017 Gen.T lister, Wesley Ng] and 9GAG are just a few examples. There’s an ecosystem in place, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it will reshape things.

Read more about Kent Ho here

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