RISE 2016 – Recap

swapit-blog_riseIt’s been over a week now since RISE – the biggest startup conference in Asia with 12,000 startup folks – has ended. I am starting to get back into my usual daily schedule and have managed to work through almost all of the backlog that had been piling up since the start of RISE.

Exhibiting at RISE

Swapit was selected as BETA startup this year. This means, one of the three days of RISE, we had a booth at the exhibition floor. Having done RISE last year gave us some insight in what to expect. So we prepared a bit for our exhibition day on day 1. It was a pretty simple set up as the RISE folks took care of banner printing and we only needed to bring our own name cards, flyers, and laptop to play our awesome Swapit intro video.

The morning on Day 1 started a bit slow, but it definitely picked up pace at around 10-11am. Suddenly a lot of people came by our booth and even two of us were trying to keep all interested parties … well, interested; and informed of course. There was a good number of people who came by and were interested to talk to us. This includes potential users, partners and especially investors. It was great to see so much interest in Swapit. That was good we now have a lot more contacts, which we still need to work through.

 

Free Mints & Candy – A Failure

We also wanted to attract some more people who wouldn’t come directly to our booth. For that we needed to get them involved somehow, get to talk to them and engage. So we thought it would make sense to give out something to they would need during the conference. In fact, when talking to Casey Lau – the co-host of RISE and co-founder of StartupsHK – quite a while before RISE, he pointed me into that direction. Thanks a lot for that, by the way. We ended getting some mints, candy, gum and other sweets — all in green color (or at least green packaging), which we could hand out. Let’s face it, we all talk a lot during these kinds of events and some refreshment is often needed. Sometimes we also need a sugar shot!

So we had a good amount of different kinds of sweets and our intern Jonathan went around and handed them out. Now, I don’t know what exactly the hold back was, apparently not many people were interested in our free snacks. We had a small box at our exhibition booth, which was used by some folks. However, the main purpose of walking around and offering attendees some sweets, did not work out. We still took the most of it back to the office. Well, we got some sweets in the office now. Feel free to come by if you’re interested 🙂

So in short, giving mints and candy away didn’t work out for us. Perhaps we need to be more standing out from the crowd? Perhaps we need to be more forthcoming? Perhaps we just need a lovely lady to hand them out? I really don’t know what it would take to make this work. We’ll probably try something else next year.

PITCH Pitch

The main PITCH competition was open for all RISE startups to apply to. Out of 600 startups at RISE, 200 applied and 60 were accepted into the quarter finals. Swapit was one of those 60 startups. So I went on stage and gave my best pitch to date – I believe. It was a tough sell, because in my group were great startups like Soundbrenner who made it all the way to the PITCH final the year before. So we didn’t make into the semi-finals, but we were able to tell our story to a great audience. Some of those have actually downloaded Swapit right on the spot. If you’re interested, this was my 4 minute pitch:

In the end a taxi app in India won the PITCH competition. I haven’t seen their pitch, but it must have been damn good if it wins – despite steep, sexy, heavyweight competition like Uber, Grab and DiDi in the region.

BREAKTHROUGH Pitch

As we made it through the BREAKTHROUGH qualifier at the Hive Studios the week before RISE, we were set to pitch again at the main BREAKTHROUGH event on Day 3 of RISE. BREAKTHROUGH was just for local Hong Kong startups, so it was great and very mixed crowd. There was a morning session and an afternoon session. Luckily I was in the morning session, because come afternoon my brain is usually fried from all the talking all day. The winner of the morning session was not Swapit, which of course was a disappointment. This time, I only had 3 minutes to pitch and 2 minutes Q&A, and I believe it was even better than the PITCH pitch two days before. The winner of our morning session and in the end the overall BREAKTHROUGH MedExo – robotics arm that counters the tremor in arms of people who suffer from the Parkinsons disease. It was pretty hard to compete with such a purposeful and life-saving product.

Cj6igRRVEAAZjd2.jpg-large

Events and Sessions

On day 2 and 3 we didn’t have our booth and therefore, we had time to roam around the floors, listen to some great speeches and visit some work shops. In particular, we were invite to attend the Facebook FbStart workshop. Because Swapit is already part of FbStart it was interesting to talk to the people behind it and see what kind of new products they offer through their program. In particular, I found the Facebook AccountKit very interesting. It was just recently released at Facebook’s own f8 developer conference and offers a unified SDK for account creation. As I mentioned before, it’s not that easy to get your app approved on the Apple App Store and that new AccountKit SDK from Facebook helps us taking some more hurdles, Apple is eagerly asking us to pass.

Night Summit

The night summit is always a collection of events after the conference floor closes. There were happy hours in 35 bars all across Hong Kong’s Central & SOHO district, but also smaller open bar events (thanks a lot Brinc and Akamai), which you usually had to reserve a ticket for. More often than not, you get to talk to random people at these night events. It’s great to get a sample of some people’s startup journey, get in though some investors in a more casual setting, and so on. I remember on day 1, I didn’t feel my feet anymore at around noon time, but come night summit they suddenly worked again!

There were also a bunch of other great events after the conference, like the startup ferry organized by the AliveNotDead folks or the OutBlaze/Animoca startup yacht on the last day. All of those were great opportunities to talk to some interesting new friends.

IMG_20160602_1816124

The Economics

I guess, what most people ask before attending these kinds of events: Was it worth it?

Well, last year we did TechInAsia, Echelon, HK ICT Expo, HKTDC Entrepreneur Day, RISE and some other events. After looking at their results, we decided to only focus on RISE this year. All the events organized by the HKTDC are quite useless. All they care about is selling their booth space and that’s it. The attendees that go to those events, don’t even want to be there. They’re sent by their employers and you can feel that. Echelon and TechInAsia were both better, but they’re both held in Singapore. That means, besides paying for our booth (or how they call it: booth is free, but you got to buy a ticket …) you also need to cover accommodation and travel. Because you have to travel, another 2 days are gone for arrival and departure. For what you get out of it, we decided to skip those this year.

Yes, RISE is expensive. Our BETA booth costs US$ 1,950, which includes 4 tickets. Yes, you get listed on their website and in the RISE app as BETA startup, you can compete in PITCH and get Office Hours and Mentor Hours with investors and industry veterans. But in the end, $2k is a lot of money for small startups. Through our good friends at WHub we got a sweet 25% discount and could lower that cost to $1,450. Thanks a lot!

As an FbStart startup, we also got 2 free tickets for two of our team members. I myself also volunteered as a PubCrawl captain, which should have gotten us a ticket, and we made it to the BREAKTHROUGH final, which also got us a RISE ticket. So we were actually set with free tickets for the events. Now, out of those 4 tickets we got with our booth package, I managed to sell 3 to other folks who really wanted to go, but didn’t have a ticket yet. So in the end, we recovered $1,200 out of those $1,450 we paid for the booth pack. At a final price of $250 for the whole event for us, this was well worth attending.

Given the fact of getting a lot of new contacts and refreshing existing ones, even the $1,950 would have been worth it. So in short: Yes. Attending RISE has paid off.

 

Have you tried the Swapit app yet? You can get it here: http://get.swapit.la

 

Swapit will Pitch at RISE BREAKTHROUGH

swapit-blog_riseBREAKTHROUGH is the stage for HK startups to show the world what we are capable of, here in Hong Kong. Swapit made it through the BREAKTHROUGH semi-finals and will now pitch at the FINALS today! Watch us here:

  • Time: 10:00 am and 12:15 pm
  • Date: Today, Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
  • Location: BREAKTHROUGH stage at RISE

You can view a map of the venue here: RISE Venue Map

This time, I’ve only got 3 minutes to pitch, so I will be talking fast — lightning fast. Make sure you got your daily dose coffee to keep up! Better a double-dose, though.

Swapit will Pitch today 2-3pm at RISE PITCH

swapit-blog_riseFrom 200 startups, 60 were selected to pitch at the PITCH competition at RISE and Swapit is one of them. Watch us at:

  • Time: 2pm – 3pm
  • Date: Today, Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
  • Location: PITCH stage at RISE

You can view a map of the venue here: RISE Venue Map

Come by and watch our latest pitch. It’s been a bit refreshed and has a bit of new angle. I’ve only got 4 minutes to pitch, so I will be talking fast. Make sure you got your daily dose coffee to keep up!

Join the RISE PubCrawl – Captaineered by Swapit Co-Founder

swapit-blog_riseRISE is comprised of many sub-summits, one of which is the Night Summit. The conference isn’t over when the exhibition doors close. It just keeps going on!  Even the night before RISE officially starts, the legendary PubCrawl kicks off in Hong Kong’s bar hood in Central & SOHO.

I will be one of tonight’s PubCrawl Captains who will bring attendees around … crawling from one pub to the other. I don’t know which pub I will be stationed at, but keep an eye out for me. I will definitely be sporting our Swapit T-Shirt and would love to tell you more about RISE 2015, my expectations for this year’s RISE, Swapit at RISE / PITCH / BREAKTHROUGH, startups in Hong Kong / Asia, and pretty much anything you’d like to know.

More information about the PubCrawl can be found here: https://riseconf.com/tracks/pub-crawl

 

Also check out the Night Summit info, powered by our fellow HK startup Gormeihttp://www.gormei.com/en/rise/night-summit/

IMG_4851

Visit Swapit at RISE 2016

swapit-blog_riseSwapit was selected BETA startup at RISE 2016. So we will have a booth there. Here are the details:

  • Time: Day 1, Tuesday, May 31st, 2016
  • Booth: B102 (BETA zone)

You can view a map of the venue here: RISE Venue Map

A full schedule of RISE can be viewed here: https://riseconf.com/schedule

Here is how our ALPHA stand looked like last year:

This year, we’re a BETA startup, so our stand is a bit larger and at a perfect location where attendee traffic intersects. Just watch out for the guys in the green Swapit T-Shirts! We might actually have a treat for you 🙂

Swapit to Pitch on Main BREAKTHROUGH Stage at RISE

Yesterday, we pitched at the BREAKTHROUGH Semi-Finals and we also launched our Swapit iOS app, by the way. From 10 absolutely great Hong Kong startup pitches, we were 1 of 4 selected ones who qualified for the finals at the big BREAKTHROUGH stage at RISE.

mmexport1464403048408

On the last day of RISE, June 2nd, 2016, we will be pitching at the BREAKTHROUGH Stage. In total, 20 startups from Hong Kong were selected to pitch at BREAKTHROUGH to showcase Hong Kong’s homegrown startups. Check the schedule for June 2nd to find out the time: https://riseconf.com/schedule

Some more pictures from yesterday’s event at The Hive Studio in Kennedy Town. Beautiful place, by the way, with great staff there.

Did you try Swapit yet? You can go to http://get.swapit.la and hit download.

Swapit to Pitch at BREAKTHROUGH for RISE

swapit-blog_riseNext week the biggest startup conference in Asia RISE kicks off in Hong Kong. Amongst many other things that’s happening next week, there will also be a BREAKTHROUGH pitch competition for up and coming Hong Kong startups.

Swapit was selected to pitch at this week’s qualifier for BREAKTHROUGH, which will take place at:

The Hive Studios at 7:00pm on Friday May 27th, 2016.
8th Floor, Cheung Hing Industrial Building, 12P Smithfield, Sai Wan, Hong Kong

If you’d like to come and join, you can RSVP here.

breakthrough-2

This is one of 5 locations across town where BREAKTHROUGH pitches will take place. Swapit will be the first one that night, so you better be on time! 🙂

If you’d like to check out the other teams, have a look at the official RISE blog post: https://riseconf.com/news/breakthrough-semi-finals