Meet the HK CrowdFunders

By: Timeout. hk,

Got an idea? Need some cash to get it off the ground? Maybe crowdfunding is for you. It’s been popular for years in the States but more people are now trying their hand at crowdfunding projects in Hong Kong. Anna Cummins meets four of them

There’s power in numbers.The global crowdfunding industry was worth more than US$5billion last year and that sum is projected to rise to over US$90billion in the next decade. Crowdfunding is a simple concept whereby supporters chip in to help get a new project off the ground, with the promise of incentives. Projects around the world that have been successfully crowdfunded include the Pebble smartwatch, a German brewery and a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla. Anything goes.

So how does Hong Kong fit into this global phenomenon? Maryann Hwee is the executive CEO of Fringebacker – a local platform that is the only fully bilingual Chinese and English crowdfunding site in the world. “[When we launched Fringebacker in 2012], many people didn’t even know what crowdfunding was,” says Hwee. “In the past two years that has started to change, slowly. There is still a long way to go and we don’t know when it’s really going to take off, but hopefully soon.”

However, as Hwee acknowledges, Hong Kong has its own set of attitudes to consider. “In the Chinese mentality, people don’t look at failure as easily as in the West,” says Hwee. “If you tell them [crowdfunding] is a model that works, and one third of them succeed, I am afraid that people here will focus on the two thirds who fail and will be a lot more reluctant to give it a try.”The advantages of crowdfunding include exposure – campaigns can be shared through social media and pick up attention more easily. The downsides include the sheer amount of work needed. “There are projects who haven’t thought about how much work they need to do,” admits Hwee. “They just want to know how much money I can get them. I tell them they’re going to do it themselves. It really is a mini version of launching a business.”

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