HKUST Alumni - Winter News 2015 - page 6

HKUST Alumni News 2015
Having decided to commercialize the AI technology, Anik
and his colleagues obtained funding from HKUST through the
Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities (TSSSU) as
well as from angel investors sourced by Prof Fung. “More recently,
we decided to use crowdfunding and we chose Indiegogo,” says
Anik. “One of its most successful projects was JIBO, a social
robot developed by MIT Media Lab – they raised US$3 million,
so we could see that people were ready to invest in empathetic
machines like ours.”
The process of getting listed on a reputable platform such as
Kickstarter and Indiegogo is vigorous, as Jeff explains. “Kickstarter
first verified our company’s identity and we then needed to
convince them that our product could be manufactured, could go
to market and is deliverable. Once you’ve got the green light, you
need to produce your marketing material – this is very important
as the video is the face of your product,” he says.
He and his partner put considerable work into building up
t is one of the buzzwords of 2015 – crowdfunding.
This web-based platform offers an alternative way
to raise money outside of the traditional financial
system, so is particularly appropriate for startup
businesses. Crowdfunding websites work by
inviting people and companies to publish details of
their products or services and appeal for donors
to pledge cash. This innovative concept has been
occupying the time and minds of three HKUST alumni in
particular lately: one has an up-and-running e-commerce
business, another has recently launched an innovative
product, while at the time of publication the third was set to
launch a UST-backed project on a crowdfunding site.
Successful crowdfunding experience
Roman Khan, 2011 BBA(MGTO), and his partner
launched Linjer in 2014, selling high-quality leather goods
online; the business became one of the first HKUST alumni
startups in Hong Kong to make use of crowdfunding,
successfully raising US$144,000 on Indiegogo in 2014.
The second campaign, launched on the Kickstarter
platform earlier this year raised more than US$350,000 in
just over one month.
Jeff Chen, 2015 BEng&BBA(MEGBM), along with a
fellow student at Harvard University, developed the idea
of integrating LED lights into a cyclist’s helmet; following a
positive reaction to the product, they co-founded Lumen
Labs in Boston, and recently launched a crowdfunding
campaign on Kickstarter, which has raised over
US$800,000 to date.
Anik Dey, 2010 BEng(ELEC)-EP, 2015 MPhil(ECE),
is a founder of Ivo Technologies, along with other HKUST
graduates and ECE Professor Pascale Fung. They have
developed a machine incorporating an artificial intelligence
system that was set to be launched on Indiegogo.
Jeff says that crowdfunding was the only realistic solution if
he and his partner wanted to take the helmet forward and launch
it on the market. “We had the product but we needed money to
kick start the business,” he explains. “We were able to raise some
money from family and friends, but it was not enough, so we
decided to use crowdfunding.” However, there is a second reason
that crowdfunding made sense: “It validates the market for the
product,” he says. They chose Kickstarter, and set their target at
For Roman, the reason to use crowdfunding was more
complicated. “We could have raised the money traditionally, but
we decided on crowdfunding because we wanted to maintain
control of the venture – once you take investors on board, the
clock starts ticking. Crowdfunding offered the opportunity to raise
cash for the first purchase order – we can find out what colors and
styles are going to sell before we place the order with the factory.”
(From left to right) Roman Khan, Anik Dey and Jeff Chen.
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