Hong Kong is blessed with many favorable elements for business
growth. The most prominent factors often cited for Hong Kong's
business success include its gateway role to China, the rule of
law, and a location where goods, services and finance move freely.
Such a positive environment has led to many success stories,
particularly in the tech sector.
One recent success was Iatopia.com (ICL), a
young Hong Kong company founded in May 2006 by Dr. Lee Shu Tak
Raymond, formerly an associate professor at the Department of
Computing of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. An inventor, scholar
and systems consultant, Dr. Lee possesses more than 18 years of
systems consulting and R&D experiences in Web 3.0 intelligent
agent technology, artificial intelligence, internet and mobile
technology and E-commerce.
ICL made an impressive head start in the e-publication business,
servicing and partnering with more than 50 leading magazines,
including Newsweek, MIT Technology Review, ESPN magazines and Ming
Pao Weekly Magazine. The business model features: (1) delivery of
interactive and multi-media based reading, searching and
web-channel viewing experience to registered viewers, (2) service
offerings to publishers ranging from simple e-content hosting,
management of content, archive and registered viewers profile to
maintenance of a full-fledged virtual communities and (3)
generation of advertising and precision target marketing revenue
from a host of branded advertisers.
As site traffic increased (with over 2.5M cpm recorded as of
August 2008), ICL saw the apparent needs for extra server equipment
and manpower and additional funding from sources other than the
founders. From mid-2008 to early-2009, with help with two smart
angels (who are professionals and seasoned investors), Dr. Lee
managed to, although slightly slowed by the financial turmoil,
raise two rounds of angel funding totaling HK$10,000,000 (around
US$1.28million), based on a pre-money valuation of the Company at
HK$25,000,000 (around US$3.2million).
In August 2009, Media Chinese International Limited, a strategic
partner of ICL, entered into an agreement to subscribe for three
convertible notes in ICL for a total amount of HK$4,500,000 (around
US$577,000). Upon full conversion, Media Chinese will become the
second largest shareholder of ICL. Media Chinese is dually listed
in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and has a media products portfolio
comprising 5 newspapers with total daily circulation of more than 1
million and more than 30 magazine titles around the world.
As seen above, this friendly environment, combined with its
proximity to and close relationship with China, recent government
policies favoring innovation and technology and the emergence of VC
industry, have further made Hong Kong fertile soil to start and
grow emerging businesses and by extension a rich venue for angel
The practice and general awareness of angel investment, however,
is still only limited to a relatively small portion of the business
and investment communities. Angel financing has a long way to go
before it can enjoy the type of popularity it has in
To improve on the current state of affairs and to elevate angel
financing to the next level, much more work needs to be done.
Seasoned angels need to make more effort to institute more
organizational format and forums to angel activities in Hong Kong
by establishing more angel networks, angel clubs and angel funds.
The government, through the relevant quasi-government
organizations, may want to consider making more missionary efforts
to raise the awareness of angel investment among the business and
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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