Infiniti launches program to support startups in Hong Kong

August 21, 2015 17:58
Dane Fisher (left), managing director of Asia and Oceania at Infiniti, and Simon Squibb, CEO of Nest, launch the entrepreneurship program. Photo: HKEJ

Automaker Infiniti Motor Company has launched a 12-week entrepreneurship program to help startups develop their business and look for investors.

A total of 145 startups from Hong Kong and around the world submitted their applications before the deadline in mid-August and up to eight of them will be selected to join the accelerator program that will start in September.

The Founder Series program will provide free working space at Infiniti’s Wan Chai showroom, startup development support, which will be powered by early stage investment venture Nest, and access to insights of invited speakers and the entrepreneurial community.

Forty-eight mentors in the areas of smart cities, hardware, manufacturing, transportation, technology and marketing will participate in the program.

Speaking at the launch of the program on Thursday, Simon Squibb, chief executive of Nest, said the environment for startup businesses in Hong Kong is very competitive.

However, the mindset of some experienced Hong Kong entrepreneurs are stuck in the past, Squibb said.

He noted that many of them became overly cautious after experiencing difficulties when the dotcom bubble burst in 1999-2001.

Squibb believes the situation has changed and startup development platforms, which were not available before, will allow entrepreneurs to focus on opportunities.

Partipants in the Founder Series program can pitch their business for further funding at an investor Demo Day in January.

The company said most of the applicants are at the seed and pre-Series A stages.

The selection of eight startups that will join the program will be based on the potential for success of their business.

Also, the program is looking for "founders with lifetime passion" for their business, Squibb said.

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EJ Insight reporter