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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, PROFESSIONAL SERVICES/LEGAL | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Hong Kong
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Do you want to build a killer app?

Altitude Labs will make your ideas happen – Silicon Valley-style.

Claiming that there is a lack of technical knowledge in Asia, a team of designers and developers put up a digital agency in Hong Kong with a goal of bringing Silicon Valley methods to the region.

Justin Yek, Jaclyn Tsui, Willson Mock, and Eugene Choi quit their stellar careers in investment banking and in Silicon Valley to move from San Francisco to Hong Kong in hopes of making a difference to the Hong Kong tech community. They founded Altitude Labs which provides technology services and digital design to well-funded startup entrepreneurs and corporates in the region. It bills itself as the first Silicon Valley-style design and development agency in Hong Kong.

Justin argues that there are proven approaches to developing software in Silicon Valley that to a large extent have not found its way to Asia. The culture of innovation, collaboration and believing in the impossible is also lacking, he adds.

“Clients hire us to solve problems and grow businesses. We design and build everything from responsive websites to complex and scalable applications. Current and past projects include a social travel photography platform, a Bitcoin exchange, a talent discovery platform, a mobile game and a financial tool for stock exchange filings,” says Justin.

“The team has a unique combination of technical, design, finance, marketing and investing expertise, which allows us to add value to businesses that we work with beyond pure software development. We apply the best practices from Silicon Valley to build products of the highest quality,” says co-founder Justin.

Members of the team are also regular contributors to popular open source projects, teachers at General Assembly and speakers at TedX.

The team met in San Francisco. Justin, Willson and Eugene were at Hack Reactor, an advanced web development immersive. Jaclyn was considering taking up a software engineering position in Silicon Valley. When the idea of bringing Silicon Valley methods to Asia came up, everyone thought it was a great idea and that is how they started.

According to Justin, they have all taken big risks to make Altitude happen. He quit his job as an investment banker. Jaclyn gave up the opportunity to work at a tech company in Silicon Valley. Willson and Eugene gave up their careers in Silicon Valley and bought one-way tickets to Hong Kong.

Justin Yek, 29, is a former investment banker who left to pursue his passion for building products. He is an instructor at General Assembly and TedX speaker. He started deploying tech products at age 14. He worked as a software engineer at Monsoon Company and is a Columbia University graduate.

Jaclyn Tsui, 29, is a female engineer from Hong Kong. She is a serial entrepreneur and former investment analyst, techstars alumnus and product manager at Coachbase. She is also an Imperial College London graduate.

Willson Mock, 29, is a former online advertising consultant at AppNexus. He is also a former manager in risk and information management at American Express and has worked as a software engineer at Famo.us. Wilson is a Cornell University graduate.

Eugene Choi, 22, has also worked as a software engineer at Famo.us. He is a former professional gamer which ranked at 3rd place in Major League Gaming (Columbus – North America Region). He studied political science and computer engineering at UC Berkeley.

Altitude Labs builds web and mobile products for clients. The team claims of applying modern technologies and methods such as agile development to build great products quickly. Justin says that the team also has a ‘unique’ approach to project management which basically involves working on small teams, building products iteratively, shipping early and often. “We also work closely with clients, prioritizing important features first and maintaining product visibility throughout the development cycle,” explains Justin.

“We don’t just work for clients and answer to briefs, we partner with them to develop and guide them through this confusing environment,” he adds.

The funding

According to Justin, the team did not raise funds when they founded the startup as the nature of their client-facing business is cash flow positive. They signed their first contracts before they landed in Hong Kong. Within their first quarter of operations, Justin says that they already have customers in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Australia. “We are incredibly excited and humbled that there is a lot of interest for what we do and believe in,” he notes.

Altitude Labs is internally funded but the team plans to raise funds for some of its internal products.

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name of the Company: Altitude Labs
Founders: Justin Yek, Jaclyn Tsui, Wilson Mock, and Eugene Choi
Website: http://www.altitudelabs.com/
Total Funding at hand: Undisclosed
Source of Funding: Cash flow from operations
Major Investors: NA
Start of Operation: April 2014  

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