- Services & Benefits
- Alumni Stories
- Donate to HKUST
- About Us
Fostering the local startup ecosystem with enthusiasm
Vincent So is an HKUST business graduate and is currently the founder and CEO of Inspect Element, a venture builder that helps early-stage startups tackle problems and accelerate their development.
“We conduct analyses for early-stage startups, come up with diagnoses and formulate squads of professionals customized to their needs who’ll work closely with each of them, so to help them march on towards their entrepreneurial goals," says Vincent.
"Certainly, we offer business advice, too.” Having led growth initiatives at multiple startups, including Klook and GOGOX, Vincent is well qualified to be a trusted advisor to his clients.
Saving hassles for early startups
When asked about his most challenging project so far, Vincent says, "We're once approached by a B2B unicorn based in the West. They're looking to set foot in Asia and want us to gauge the potential of their target markets for them."
Vincent and his team then ran market testing campaigns in select Asian markets, including Singapore and Japan. The results showed that there wasn’t a big enough appetite for what the startup had to offer. The expansion plan was dropped, and, more importantly, thousands (if not millions) of market entry dollars were saved.
Evolving from a venture builder to a venture fund
Since his first day in business, Vincent has seen many startup ideas with great potential yet lacking capital to get things off the ground.
“And this was how we branched out into the venture business," laughs Vincent, "We set up Inspect Venture to offer the very first sum of funding to local startups with ideas we love. The funding is usually of US$100,000."
Filling the local talent gap
Vincent is optimistic about the local startup scene. He's seen one promising idea after another out there. What’s lacking is talent, as more Hongkongers with relevant expertise and experience choose to pursue their careers elsewhere.
As a local university that well embraces entrepreneurship, Vincent considers HKUST a significant breeding ground for new generations of entrepreneurs in Hong Kong.
“Initiatives such as the Entrepreneurship Centre and Business Mentorship Programs have encouraged students to stay abreast of trends in the startup scene, and taught them relevant skills that would prepare them as future entrepreneurs,” says Vincent.
“I’d benefited a lot from a course taken during my undergrad years at HKUST when I ran my first startup project. Our professor offered us plenty of advice and guidance all along. Although the project failed in the end, it'd laid a strong foundation for my role as an entrepreneur today."
University years are the best time to start a business
To young people keen on starting their own business, Vincent suggests that university years are the best time to do it. "You can try something that genuinely matches your passion without the need to care too much about realistic restrictions. Even if you fail, the experience you've gained would only get you better prepared for your next endeavor."
Speaking of means to fill the local talent gap, Vincent has a proposal for his alma mater, too. "It'd be great if the schools work more closely together," says Vincent. "And through the exchange between students of different disciplines, unexpected entrepreneurial sparks may come about and develop into sound startups someday."