PROFESSIONAL SERVICES/LEGAL | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
Casey Lau

Why Hong Kong start-ups flock to US-based accelerators


With only one real accelerator program in Hong Kong (AcceleratorHK focusing mainly on mobile startups, ChinaAccelerator in Dalian and JFDI in Singapore), where is a startup based in Hong Kong to go for seed funding and mentorship?

They go west!

What seems to be a trend nowadays is HK based startups getting into different accelerator programs in the U.S. – which doesn’t seem that surprising seeing as there isn’t much support for brand new startups in Hong Kong financially and we’ve seen Coachbase get accepted into the TechStars x Nike accelerator, StampUp went to a VC-backed accelerator in San Francisco for their enterprise solution startup, Spottly got into 500 Startups and ZaoZao is going to a NYC-based accelerator for their fashion crowdsourcing site.

We all know there is lack of this kind of support in Hong Kong – so its natural that startup teams head to the next place best – the US – where many of the accelerators are opening up to international entrepreneurs which they haven’t in the past.
500 Startups seems the most agressive of the US-based accelerators as they have a person based in Beijing recruiting people to join their upcoming classes. The SoftLayer Catalyst program is a virtual incubator but does help with referrals into the main accelerators in the US when the members want to apply.

But where does this leave Hong Kong? While the teams will return to Hong Kong when their accelerator class ends they will have had plenty of opportunity to talk to investors from the US that are looking to break into the Asia market at this early stage – leaving HK angels and investors out in the cold till they look for a bigger round. And Hong Kong cannot take full claim to building its startup ecosystem because of all the help from another country.

We open this thread to you: Are you considering joining an overseas accelerator program?


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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Casey Lau

Casey Lau

Casey Lau is one of Hong Kong’s tech startup pioneers having co-founded one of Hong Kong’s first web design studios, first e-commerce and Hong Kong’s  first blogs. He is one of the co-founders of StartupsHK.  He is also the Community Manager for SoftLayer’s Catalyst Startup Program, providing virtual incubator services for startups across Asia-Pacific. 

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