21 September 2019
E Hub promises all-around support for startups. Photo: HKEJ
E Hub promises all-around support for startups. Photo: HKEJ

Qianhai’s E Hub: Still a lot to be desired

The Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub (E Hub) has attracted a growing number of young entrepreneurs from mainland China and Hong Kong who want to pursue their startup dreams.

It offers tax breaks and other subsidies for innovative companies to set up their offices in its 40,000 square meter zone.

While E Hub promises all-around support for technology newbies, there are apparently still many things it can do to make the lives of tenants easier and more productive.

One company has spent two months trying to complete all the business registration procedures. Unless it goes through all those requirements, it cannot do any hiring and start operation.

Asked why it hasn’t sought help from E Hub, the company said using the center’s support service is “not cheap at all”. The same service could be had outside — cheaper and possibly better.

There are also funny and annoying rules. Take air-conditioning charges. Instead of charging by usage, tenants have to pay a fixed amount whether they use it or not.

Basic office infrastructure like WiFi can be quite unstable. “If you want better connection, you have to arrange for the service yourself,” the company said.

Now, these may all seem petty cash matters, but E Hub is targeting young companies, some of which have not even started to earn a revenue, let alone profit. Cutting expenses down to the bone and making every dollar count matter a lot.

E Hub is rent-free for the first year and offers 50 percent discount for the second year. While that sounds generous enough, some startups think it can be better.

“Ask many startups, they would probably tell you the embarrassing experience of not being able to pay wages at some point during the first two years,” another startup owner said.

Very often, if there is no business for one or two months, startups will encounter cash flow problems.

“Let’s say you need one year to create your product. But that is just step one. It might take at least another year to market the product and find customers,” the second startup owner continued.

“If the rent-free period can be extended to two years, that will help a lot.”

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EJ Insight writer