How an AI fan got into technology consultancy

August 29, 2018 17:49
Wistkey founder and CEO Eric Lau considers time constraint as one of the biggest challenges in the consultancy business. Photo: EJ Insight

Just like making good whiskey, it takes time to produce a serious tech product. This is the philosophy of Wistkey, a startup that offers business and technology consultancy services.

Eric Lau, the company's founder and chief executive, graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) with a bachelor's degree in system engineering and engineering management in 2014.

Lau, who is in his mid-20s, has always been interested in artificial intelligence and big data, and has taken related courses during his college years.

After accumulating IT and tech experience in several jobs, Lau established Wistkey in 2016. The firm currently has 15 employees, some of whom are also shareholders.

As a business consultant, Wistkey primarily serves its clients by reviewing their business models and assisting them in transformation through AI and big data.

Wistkey will also match clients with venture capital firms if they need funding to transform their business. It also provides social media marketing and media relations support.

One of the startup's clients is Xiamen-based Miche Wang, an online platform for trading second-hand cars.

Wistkey helped the company to build an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and raise series A funding worth HK$15 million through VC matching. It also uses its contacts to help Miche Wang gain media exposure.

Time constraint is one of the biggest challenges in the consultancy business.

"Despite the tight deadlines of many projects, clients always want their system to be as perfect as possible," Lau noted.

Clients would keep demanding changes and improvements.

"When they think of an idea today, they expect it be done the next day," he said. But technically, it’s not that easy to make changes in a system.

The startup has a wide range of clientele including corporates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“Documentation is the toughest and most time-consuming thing in dealing with NGOs,” Lau said, especially in the case of NGOs that need to follow strict procedures in getting approvals.

A project that can be completed in three months for other clients may take one year in the case of an NGO.

New World Construction Co. Ltd. is another client. Wistkey served as a software developer to help develop the company's smart construction system, while building a technical team for it.

Come November, Lau plans to officially launch a new product called Rocks Enroll, a customer resource management (CRM) system for handling event participants’ enrollment and managing membership. It has taken the company about three years to develop the system.

The new product earned the firm a first runner-up prize at the CUHK Entrepreneurship Competition in this year’s CUHK Entrepreneur Day in May. The firm subsequently signed two memoranda of understanding with investors.

Lau said his company aims to raise angel funding of around HK$2 million to HK$5 million in the future.

After laying a solid foundation in Hong Kong, Wistkey may start looking for opportunities in Southeast Asia.

“There have been a growing number of entertainment facilities including theme parks to be built in those countries,” Lau said, noting that it has done similar projects in Hong Kong.

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Eric Lau shows how Rocks Enroll works. The customer resource management system will be launched in November. Photo: EJ Insight

EJ Insight writer