In June of 2013 I opened the first international office for my firm here in Hong Kong, which had previously operated from a single headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although our main interests are in China, we decided the pollution and business environment made it an impractical first step in Asia.
We could have chosen Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, or Singapore, but here are the reasons we settled on Hong Kong.
Gateway to China. No other country can boast a closer relationship to mainland China, without being a true part of it, than Hong Kong. No other place allows such easy access to Chinese markets and the hundreds of millions of potential customers living there.
Add to this other nearby markets in the Asia-Pacific region, and Hong Kong is at the center of half of the world’s population.
Safety. Hong Kong has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. One can walk the streets virtually anywhere in the city, at any time of day or night, and feel safe.
Language. One can easily live and do business in Hong Kong without learning Chinese, although it certainly helps to pick up at least a few phrases for use in talking to store clerks and taxi drivers.
Outdoor activities. There are ample opportunities for running, hiking, kayaking, and a host of other outdoor activities. Hong Kong has active clubs for triathletes.
Business environment. Hong Kong is consistently rated as having one of the freest economies in the world. Taxes are relatively low, and it is easy to incorporate a new business.
There is a vibrant startup community, supported by grassroots organizations like StartupsHK.
Although I can’t say this factored into choosing Hong Kong since I didn’t know about it until after arriving, one of the greatest positive aspects of doing business in Hong Kong has been the generosity and welcoming attitude of everyone I have met.
I have never been to any place where it has been easier to network, and where people have been so helpful in terms of making introductions and collaborating on business opportunities.
I’m sure Singapore and mainland China have a lot to offer in terms of opportunity and rewarding experiences. I hope to live in both of those places as well as others in Asia.
But when it came to taking a first step into Asia, Hong Kong came out on top.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Joshua Steimle is the founder and CEO of MWI. He is a contributing writer to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Venture Beat, and is a co-director of Startup Grind's Hong Kong chapter.