Date
11 December 2017
Groking Lab’s co-founder and CEO Serena Pau shares her experience in starting her business and launching its first product, Ozmo. The  smart-bottle tracks users’ beverage consumption. Photo: HKEJ
Groking Lab’s co-founder and CEO Serena Pau shares her experience in starting her business and launching its first product, Ozmo. The smart-bottle tracks users’ beverage consumption. Photo: HKEJ

Startups from a woman founder’s perspective

Busy people tend to ignore the basic needs of their bodies, especially when it comes to drinking water. That is why Groking Lab has developed Ozmo, a smart-bottle and app which track users’ beverage consumption and help them achieve well-balanced drinking habits.

After her brother died of leukemia, Groking co-founder and chief executive Serena Pau became increasingly health-conscious. That became the catalyst for her to co-found the tech startup and create its first product, Ozmo, three years ago.

Ozmo tracks the daily water and coffee intake, location and weather associated with its users. The smart-bottle syncs with the Ozmo app via Bluetooth to give you personalized alerts when you’re becoming dehydrated.

Launched with Kickstarter and accelerated by Amazon, Ozmo has users in more than 80 countries. The company will enter the Chinese market next month, targeting pregnant women, Pau told the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Starting a new company is never easy. Traveling around Hong Kong, mainland China, the US and Singapore, Pau has attended numerous pitch events in two years. But even in the startup-crazed Chinese market, Pau has difficulty picking the right investors for her firm.

“Chinese startups and investors look for disruptive technology. While robotics startups grab much attention, tech firms with a team of professionals with PhDs are also investors’ favorite,” Pau said.

With investors flocking to “futuristic technologies”, Pau holds a contrary view. “Not everyone needs robots, but everyone needs to drink water,” Pau said. “Somebody needs to do something real and meaningful.”

In contrast with Chinese startup investors, those in the West are more practical and realistic, focusing on business model. “As long as you can convince them with a solid revenue model based on facts and figures, they are willing to fund your business and help you go global,” Pau said.

An interesting group of investors would be from Singapore, where investors are deeply embedded in the local consciousness. They are inclined to look for startups planning to get a foothold in the Singapore market, according to Pau.

Considering the local startup market, Pau admits that pitching to Hong Kong investors is most difficult for startups like hers. “I was once told privately in a startup competition that local investors want a quick and high return — higher than property investment — on their startup investment. Thus, fintech startups are more to their liking.”

Also worth mentioning is the gender gap in startup funding, Pau said, as female entrepreneurs are treated differently. And there are lots of examples. “At normal pitch nights, male entrepreneurs would be asked to describe the future prospects of their business, while at the women’s pitch nights, entrepreneurs would be asked to discuss their personal profiles.”

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 30

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

BN/RT/RA

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe