Heatherm Huang founded email messenger app MailTime in Hong Kong, but he decided to move the core of the startup’s operation to America in 2013.
Huang did that for a few reasons.
First is the limited size of the Hong Kong market. Second, he found it hard to recruit engineers for further product development. Finding financial backers also proved to be difficult.
“The special market situation of Hong Kong makes it hard to take a product that is successful here and roll it out in overseas markets,” Huang told the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Exposure is another key benefit to look beyond Hong Kong.
Determined to get into Y Combinator’s accelerator program, Huang applied three times before MailTime finally got admitted.
“YC is the number one accelerator,” Huang noted. “Partners of YC are experts coming from a wide array of specialized fields, and it has the track record of nurturing successful startups.”
Airbnb and Dropbox are some of the top startups mentored by YC.
Huang was quite negative about the tech industry’s environment in Hong Kong a few years ago, but he said the situation has greatly improved and the city is now catching up.
Still, he encourages local startups to venture abroad, by participating in overseas accelerator programs, for example.
MailTime has already partnered with 15 email platforms including Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
The app reformats email into instant messages to make communication via emails easier and more natural on smartphones.
The company secured US$2 million capital from angel investors last year and Huang is currently looking to branch out into data analysis services to build up a more solid revenue model.
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