Unique startup hub helping businesses launch into Asia

A unique coworking space in Sydney aims to help Australian companies make the daunting leap into the Asian market.

Located in Sydney’s Chinatown, Haymarket HQ is a specialised coworking space geared towards providing startups with mentoring and advice they need to expand into Asia.

Property developer Brad Chan said he founded Haymarket HQ because he believed there needed to be a dedicated space aimed at taking advantage of Australia’s economic ties to Asia.

Haymarket HQ in Sydney's Chinatown.
Haymarket HQ in Sydney's Chinatown.
SBS

“One of the strengths that we’ve got in Australia, and particularly in Sydney, is a lot of good networks, a lot of good connections and a lot of good capabilities into Asia which weren’t being utilised,” Mr Chan said.

For university mates Julian Chow and Alfred Boyadgis, working at Haymarket HQ has been a lifesaver.

Julian Chow and Alfred Boyadgis, Co-Founders of Forcite Helmet Systems
Julian Chow and Alfred Boyadgis, Co-Founders of Forcite Helmet Systems
SBS

The pair’s company Forcite Helmet Systems designs smart-helmet technology, so motorcyclists and sportspeople can interact with their helmets. 

Despite having raised $1.2 million to make their smart-helmet a reality, finding software and hardware manufacturers in China was one of the biggest challenges.

The other was bridging the cultural divide between Asia and Australia.

“There is that huge language barrier at first - and the cultural barrier - having grown up in Australia the whole time,” Mr Chow told SBS.

“As an Aussie going there for the first time, it is totally different to how you do it in Australia,” Mr Boyadgis said.

Angela Kwan’s software company Catalyser is aimed at helping major companies to facilitate staff donations through their intranet systems.

Angela Kwan, Co-Founder of Catalyser
Angela Kwan, Co-Founder of Catalyser
SBS

She says one of the benefits of basing her startup out of Haymarket HQ is the access to potential investors to facilitate her shift to the Asian market.

“There’s a lot of funds from Asia, investment funds and seed funds and also a lot of local funds that come here to talk to the startups, mentor the startups and look at opportunities,” she said.

Mr Chan says he thinks startups are sometimes too focused on moving to Silicon Valley in the United States, and may be overlooking opportunities closer to home.

“We have a very strong Asian population, not only visitors and not only students but people of first, second, third generation of Asian descent, who live here and who still have a lot of strong connections into Asia.”

“One of the things I see is we are not using our Asia capabilities as well as we could,” he added.

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Source: SBS Small Business Secrets