Our honorary AsiaBerlin Ambassador Karena Belin is passionate about technology & innovation and helping startups succeed.
She successfully founded WHub and AngelHub with her associate Karen Contet. Together they are on a mission to empower startups to drive wealth and economic growth and foster the growth of the tech & innovation ecosystem. Recently, Karena very successfully organized the Startup Impact Summit with over 20000 attendees and 1000 investors in the context of StartmeUp HK. She is a strong bridge for businesses between Germany and Hong Kong and a regular speaker at the AsiaBerlin Summit (former APW).
“My passion, along with my co-founder is to help startups scale locally in Hong Kong, regionally in Asia and globally — to foster the growth of the entire Startup Ecosystem and its stakeholders. This same passion truly unites our AsiaBerlin community and ambassadors where we support each other to better serve our respective ecosystems. Our flagship conference #SIS (Startup Impact Summit) and our Global Startup Competition would not have been the same without the involvement of the group! It’s #StartupPassion on steroids to empower know-how, talent, capital, and data exchange beyond borders!”,
We spoke to her about experiences in building bridges across cross-border startup ecosystem and the vibrant startup scene in Hong Kong. Here is what she had to say:
Tell us about the startup scene in HongKong. How has it been growing over the years and what can we expect?
Hong Kong’s Tech and Innovation Ecosystem is an ideal place to start or scale your startup, regardless of where you are from. Coined one of the fastest-growing ecosystems in 2015, it has since given birth to 9 unicorns and counts over 3,000 startups – for a city with only 7 million people. That’s because it is so strategically positioned, has a great tech infrastructure, and is easy to navigate, also for foreign founders and teams.
The biggest number of startups play in e-commerce, logistics, and SaaS, but HealthTech, IoT, and especially FinTech are strongly on the rise, including sectors such as RegTech (Regulatory Technology) and InsurTech (Insurance Technology). Hong Kong also gives birth to new sectors less known in other geographies such as EduTech (Education Technology), TravelTech, TextileTech and PropTech (Property Technology).
Diversity holds also true with regards to talent: The origin of founders spread across many nationalities, and more than one-third of founders are non-Hong Kong nationals, including one-third of local unicorn founders. Over one-third of founders are female and the starting age of founders ranges from students up to very seasoned career switchers in their 40s+.
If you want to learn more about the opportunities about Hong Kong and the GBA (Greater Bay Area – 11 cities in the Greater China region), please download our free whitepapers.
What have been your efforts in connecting startup ecosystems internationally? What have been your ties to the Berlin startup ecosystem?
WHub has grown into a network with over 500 partners globally, including strong partners in Berlin such as AsiaBerlin, enpact and WLounge to name a few. We leverage our strong bonds when we run programs on a global scale, such as our Global Startup Competition , our annual flagship conference Startup Impact Summit – #SIS or co-innovation programs between startups and corporates. We offer several options to startups in our network for market expansion and a soft landing program here in the region to get them operational in a weeks time.
From the very beginning, we have defined WHub’s mission as unleashing startups’ full potential and fostering the growth of the entire startup ecosystem, helping all stakeholders tap into the
innovative power of the community. A full-service offer around three pillars:
Showcase: Present startups with their mission and passion and provide visibility on opportunities, happenings and news from the tech & innovation ecosystem
Empower: Favor startups with exclusive WHub perks & resources and provide education through our white papers, workshops and conferences.
Connect: Match startups and ecosystem stakeholders with game-changing connections.
Our international partners allow these connections to be cross-border on a global scale.
The pandemic has changed the events industry drastically. How is it to organize a huge conference such as SIS virtually?
Exciting and nerve-racking: true startup life as you walk on an undiscovered land. Technology is revolutionizing the way we live, work, interact … and now even conference! So we decided to leverage this opportunity to redefine conferencing for the next decade and aimed a truly full global scale.
For example, going virtual allowed us to reach over 3,000,000 people, have 20,000 viewers, and granting 5,900 attendees from 97 countries access to over 100 virtual booths and an interactive conferencing platform. This also allowed us to showcase over 270 speakers, presenters, and panelists across fifteen tracks, all designed to share, innovate and inspire the startup and tech community at a global scale and hence provide all in all 191 hours of content and opportunities for meaningful connections.
Attendees had the opportunity to learn about startup investment, finding talent as well as gaining insider information on trending topics and hacks for breaking into Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area (in short GBA). The stages hosted some of the most sought-after global speakers in the startup and tech ecosystem who might otherwise would not have made it in person, such as speakers from the World Economic Forum, Impossible Foods, The Sandbox, SenseTime, WeLab, Policybazaar, Linktree, GOGOX, Lalamove, GoJek, Carousell, Techstars, 500 Startups, Tim Draper, Jason Calacanis and Mimi Ito.