In the Hong Kong film Love Off the Cuff released in April, which is the third installment of the Love In a Puff series, Shawn Yue Man-lok has so much fun running on Surfwheel that he made the scene memorable.
Surfwheel was developed by local startup Koofy Development Ltd.
Koofy’s founder Ondy Ma met Pang Ho-cheung, the film’s director, at a trade show. Pang was so impressed by Surfwheel that he decided to feature it in his movie, and it generated good publicity for the product.
Warner Bros. partnership
In general, Surfwheel works well in daily commuting. Once charged for 90 minutes, Surfwheel can travel for 12 km., which is ideal for short commutes, according to Ma.
In Europe and the United States, the product sees huge demand. The startup has signed a deal worth HK$100 million with an overseas distributor. It also signed a contract with American entertainment company Warner Bros. to launch a superhero version.
Despite its popularity in many foreign markets, Surfwheel cannot run on Hong Kong roads due to legal issues.
Ma said he has no idea as to whether the relevant ordinances will be amended but hoped Surfwheel will be at least allowed in the countryside.
Hong Kong-born Ma moved to Canada with his family at the age of 14. Since his return to Hong Kong, he has been engaged in product and brand management in companies including Philips and Belkin.
He said one can look for a job anytime but opportunities for starting a business are rare, adding he has long wanted his own “signature product.”
He took the plunge in 2013 and spent another two years doing research and developing his product.
Ma considers Hong Kong an ideal place for entrepreneurs because it is convenient to recruit outstanding overseas talent. As an international city, Hong Kong also serves as a base to export products to the global market.
Blueprint for going smart
The Hong Kong government has released the Report of Consultancy Study on Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong, in which smart transport has been frequently discussed.
Apart from handing issues such as open data, relevant ordinances in areas including electric bicycles, skateboards and shared transport need to be changed.
Ma hopes that his Surfwheel can play a role in the smart city of the future.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 8
Translation by Jonathan Chong
[Chinese version 中文版]
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