GLM: Speedy information flow empowers electric-vehicle business
Japanese electric-vehicles developer and manufacturer GLM was keen to explore overseas markets but limited financial capacity and insufficient knowledge of their targets posed major challenges. Fortunately, GLM was supported by a Hong Kong investor who provided funds and connected the company with business partners to help overseas expansion. After operating in Hong Kong for more than a year, the company’s CEO Hiroyasu Koma realised free flow of information was another Hong Kong advantage.
Hong Kong’s Four Seas brings Calbee to the world
Snack producer Calbee is not only popular in Japan but also in Hong Kong. City businessman Stephen Tai introduced Calbee’s products to Hong Kong in 1976. He also partnered with Calbee to set up production lines in Hong Kong, supplying the city and overseas markets including Taiwan, Singapore, the United States and United Kingdom.
NTT: Hong Kong is an ideal location for data centres
Information and communications technology (ICT) giant NTT group operates more than 140 data centres globally. The centre in Hong Kong was the first one set up outside Japan. Companies in the international business hub of Hong Kong have a keen demand for secure and reliable ICT solutions. This creates huge opportunities for NTT. Hong Kong’s deep talent pool in technology, well developed information infrastructure and high security make it a perfect location for data centres.
NEC – Japanese IT giant capitalises on Hong Kong advantages
For nearly three decades until the late 1990s, Japanese electronics products were all the rage. As soon as the products are shipped from Japan to their destinations around the world, they would be snapped up almost immediately by local buyers.
“In those days, you didn’t look for clients. They came to you,” said Elsa Wong, Manager Director of NEC Hong Kong, a subsidiary of NEC Corporation. “When NEC products like pagers, dot matrix printers and MultiSync LCD monitors arrived in Hong Kong, we would get an avalanche of orders and the goods would be gone in no time.”
However, in the more globalised and competitive market today, Japan’s electronics giants are rapidly diversifying. Today, NEC is a world leader in the integration services of IT, biometrics and smart city technologies, as well as a multinational provider of electronics, telecommunication products and IT solutions.
As one of NEC’s subsidiaries in Asia, NEC Hong Kong has played a significant role in pushing that approach. Wong, who has been with NEC for 20 years, said that shortly before the year 2000, when the group’s revenue started to slow down amid rising competition from Chinese and South Korean electronics companies, NEC Hong Kong decided it was time to review and revamp the company’s business strategy before it was too late.
“At the time, hardware products were our forte, but we began to explore different IT solutions, which at the time were not big yet,” Wong said.
The NEC Hong Kong team first developed a call centre system, drawing on existing resources related to NEC’s already well-developed PBX (Private Branch Exchange, a private telephone network used within a company). This strategy of building on existing strengths proved effective. As there was very little market competition at the time, the response was overwhelming for NEC’s call centre solution. That motivated NEC Hong Kong to diversify into IVR (Interactive Voice Response, an automated system that answers incoming calls and provides instructions to customers), which was also well received in the market.
“Market demand for these IT solutions was good, but in terms of revenue they hardly compare to our telecom product business. We needed something more, and it had to be something very unique,” Wong said.
The team decided that biometrics was the way to go. “We first focused on face recognition. Only two companies in Hong Kong – and none in the Chinese mainland – were doing that. Hong Kong’s Immigration Department soon became one of our clients. The facial recognition technology they launched in 2003 was made by NEC,” Wong said.
“This biometrics business of NEC just got bigger and bigger. As it was first launched in Hong Kong, our team had to help our colleagues at NEC’s headquarters in Japan to launch the business there. We also provided support to other NEC offices including in the UK, US, Russia and Turkey.”
Nowadays, 90% of NEC’s products are IT solutions, with the remaining 10% being hardware products. Wong said NEC Hong Kong has played a role in supporting the group’s global business development. “It is a matter of getting information from different quarters to make sound business decisions. Surely you can rely on market research, but it’s nothing like getting feedback directly from a competent subsidiary that has the local knowledge and experience,” she said.
Wong also noted that Hong Kong has multiple advantages to offer to international corporations operating in the city. “Hong Kong’s proximity to the Chinese mainland is an advantage, as information and resources can be acquired quickly and inexpensively.”
“Hong Kong is a small market. You can launch new products here and know very quickly whether they work or not. It’s a great testing ground for new products,” Wong said. “Also, the Hong Kong market is in general very demanding, partly because rents are high and time is precious. If a product goes down well in Hong Kong, it will usually succeed in other markets.”
Culturally, Wong said Hong Kong and Japan are a good match.“ Japanese companies excel in product development. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is market savvy and can offer support in packaging and quality control.”
Wong said, facing increasing competition from across the region, Japanese companies looking to expand their international presence can make new headways by setting up operations in Hong Kong.
Mtel – Expanding globally through smart digital solutions
Willy Wong still remembers the mix of scepticism and excitement greeting mobile applications – or apps as we now call them – when they came out about a decade ago. “They were generally viewed as something gimmicky in those days. Few companies were ready to invest much in them. But today, mobile apps are part of our lives,” he says.
For the CEO of Mtel, a digital enabler and leading mobile app developer in Hong Kong, to have witnessed closely – and played a part in – how mobile phone technology has shaped our lives has been an exciting journey. “Many people may have forgotten how things were like in the early days when one could go online with mobile phone but without any apps. We have been part of the evolution, and things will only get more complex yet exciting,” he says.
Founded in 1999, Mtel started as a small company devising digital solutions. In the days before mobile apps, businesses that wanted to get connected with their clients via mobile phone had to rely on telecom firms. Banks, for example, could only offer mobile banking service to their customers through online portals provided by individual telecom service providers. Mtel was one of the few digital wizards behind the scenes, creating those digital platforms to support its many telecom company clients.
By the time mobile apps came on the scene, Mtel had already grown to become a seasoned digital solutions provider with substantial technical knowhow and a solid clientele, making it possible for the Hong Kong company to play a major role in the new mobile trend.
Over the years, the scope of its services has expanded significantly, covering the design and development of mobile, web and social applications, sales presentations tools, e-learning platforms and more. Headquartered in Hong Kong with branch offices in four other cities in Asia, Mtel hires more than 150 IT specialists and business development executives, many of whom are young people in their 20s and 30s.
The company counts leading corporations in various industries as clients, including retailers, financial companies, banks, telecom companies and public utilities suppliers. As an industry leader, it has a host of awards under its belt. Recently at the 2018 Mob-Ex Awards, an award programme that celebrates excellence in mobile marketing in Asia Pacific, Mtel bagged eight awards, including four top prizes. Its other milestones include creating Citibank’s first mobile app in Asia; developing for Hong Kong International Airport an app that provides travellers a wide array of airport information; and designing for the Hong Kong Jockey Club a WeChat platform that features horse race information and interactive games.
“If the digital space is a house, then we’re like an interior designer. The house is already there. Based on what we know of our clients and what they need, we come up with ideas to design the interior, execute the ideas and help them solve problems.”
Wong makes it a point that Mtel is not a digital marketing agency. “We don’t just come up with an idea for a short-lived marketing campaign and then pull it out after the campaign is over. What we create will stay and we will refine and upgrade them if needed,” he says.
Such a positioning implies a commitment to clients, and it has been one reason for Mtel’s expanding clientele. Today, Mtel has offices in Taipei, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and Guangzhou. According to Wong, Vietnam and Thailand are relatively less experienced in the realm of digital solutions development. At the same time, many local companies are keen to tap the potential of using technology and innovation solutions to grow their businesses. To this end, they turn to experienced digital enablers such as Mtel.
Recently, Wong and his team have developed an app for the biggest cinema chain in Thailand. It is not merely an app that sells tickets to movie-goers, but it is also a tool strategically designed to help the cinema chain boost profits.
“For instance, when you buy a ticket, the app will, based on the analytics we collect, automatically suggest you to invite certain friends who may be interested in joining you. If the friends buy tickets, too, you may get a discount for buying popcorn or something,” Wong explains. “It’s about being business-oriented and thinking strategically to generate spending by users of the app.”
In its efforts to stretch its tentacles abroad, Mtel also has a role to play in more technologically advanced countries in the region, usually when companies seek to expand their international footprint. A case in point is a South Korean film production company that wanted to distribute its smart films abroad. It turned to Mtel, which played the role of an overseas contact point providing technical support.
As for the equally technologically advanced Japan, Wong believes Japanese companies whose plans to build an international presence involve making use of the digital space can also seek outside help.
“Japan is an advanced economy and the market may already be saturated for some industries. That’s when companies start to contemplate going global. But expanding abroad is no straightforward matter. Language barrier can be an issue, and then there is the opportunity cost of setting up from scratch an operation in a foreign place. Turning to an overseas partner who has a good network and experience can make things much easier,” Wong says.
“As technology continues to advance, digital solutions will only get more sophisticated yet complicated, and industries of all kinds will need more of them. Digital enablers are there to help them collect data, devise solutions and, above all, improve their businesses.”
Biotech blossoms in HK
Biotech company Maz World specialises in the commercialization of a revolutionary technology which uses ostrich antibodies to ward off influenza. Maz World joined Hong Kong Science Park in 2017. The company’s managing partner Gene Shigekawa has found Hong Kong is not just a financial centre but also has a deep pool of bio-technology talents. He believes the city has huge potential to become a biotechnology hub.
NTT Data – Expanding E-commerce Business Worldwide through Hong Kong
NTT Data Corporation is a leading information technology (IT) services provider in Japan with 110,000 employees in 210 cities across 51 countries and territories. The Hong Kong subsidiary of the company, NTT Data (Hong Kong), is a payment services provider utilising expertise and technology from Japan. It provides a global payment service for e-commerce companies around the world.
Hong Kong as a global payment hub
NTT Data is in the process of expanding its e-commerce business from the world's largest market, the Chinese mainland, into Southeast Asia. It established NTT Data (Hong Kong) in 2015 as a global payment hub, in line with the trend for e-commerce business operators to integrate their global businesses and optimise business processes.
The company says the primary reason for selecting Hong Kong as its global payment hub is the city’s strategic geographical location, which enables e-commerce business operators to use Hong Kong as a base to access the huge mainland market and countries in the emerging Southeast Asia region.
Moreover, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government offers incentives to fintech companies as part of its push to develop the city into a financial technology hub. Handling multi-currency settlements is easy in Hong Kong where there are few foreign-exchange restrictions in relation to investment, overseas remittances or the setting up of bank accounts. It is also relatively easy to expand businesses into the mainland from Hong Kong as most renminbi payments made in the city are treated as offshore transactions, which are exempted from taxes. Another plus is that Hong Kong’s tax system and regulations offer favourable conditions for the payment business.
Well-known for its high education standards, Hong Kong offers a rich pool of talents who have a mastery of both English and Mandarin. Companies also have easy access to talents in specialised fields such as finance, tax and accounting.
Seamless cross-border e-commerce
With Hong Kong as its global payment hub, the one-stop multi-currency payment services provided by NTT Data (Hong Kong) can be a big help to e-commerce business operators looking to expand overseas, especially within Asia.
This is due to the development of a wide range of local payment methods now available across Asia. For example, Alipay, WeChat pay and UnionPay cards are widely used on the mainland, while e-wallets (electronic wallets) on smartphones are becoming increasingly popular across the Southeast Asian region.
Using the multi-currency payment services of NTT Data (Hong Kong) to handle different payment methods, e-commerce business operators are able to increase their overseas customer base and further promote their products and services across different countries and territories in the region.
The number of visitors to Japan from Asia, including the mainland, is increasing every year, and is expected to continue to rise as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics approach. It is also expected that customers’ interests in Japanese products and brands will increase at the same time. In such circumstances, the cross-boundary e-commerce business support provided by NTT Data (Hong Kong) will play a more significant role in facilitating business between Japan and the rest of Asia.
As interest in its services grows, NTT Data (Hong Kong) is determined to forge ahead while adhering closely to its vision of "providing the same quality of services anytime and anywhere - online to offline”.
Design for Ventures - Supporting Start-ups through Partnership with IDEO
In 2016, the establishment of venture capital company Design for Ventures (D4V) in Tokyo made headlines both in Japan and abroad.
D4V is a joint venture between Japanese venture capital firm Genuine Startups, which specialises in facilitating investments for start-ups in their initial stage, and world-renowned global design and consulting company IDEO, which designed Apple's first computer mouse and one of the world’s pioneers in adapting design thinking for business purposes.
We spoke with Kanako Inuoe, who previously worked for Genuine Startups and became a co-founder and Portfolio Director of D4V, about the background to the launch of the company.
"For Genuine Startups, we thought about what had been lacking in the local venture capital industry and came to realise that many Japanese start-ups struggled to get a presence outside Japan,” Inuoe explained. “We saw that a venture capital (VC) company is essential to support start-ups by helping them form partnerships with major international companies, with Genuine Startups acting as a joint representative.”
When Makoto Takano, CEO of D4V, first pitched this idea to his close business associate, Tom Kelley, Joint Business Partner of renowned global design and consulting firm IDEO, “we managed to gain huge progress based on Tom's ideology,” said Inuoe.
So what exactly is Tom Kelley's "ideology"?
Focus on Japan’s innovation potential
According to Inoue, despite Japan being one of the most innovative countries in the world, there are very few entrepreneurs contributing to the nation's GDP.
“I believe Japanese entrepreneurs can be more confident in taking up challenges and be more innovative than before,” she said. “Tom Kelley's ideology is to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in Japan to a point where start-ups can make a significant contribution to the domestic GDP, providing attractive career paths for talented individuals and organisations at the same time."
As a result, D4V was established as a joint VC (with Genuine Startups and IDEO holding 60% and 40% of the investment, respectively) based on Kelley's belief regarding Japan's high - but underexploited - potential and Takano's vision for globalising Japanese VCs.
"D4V's mission is to help start-ups have a significant social impact in Japan. After they have achieved some success in their home country, these new companies can then consider going global,” added Inoue.
"D4V strives to narrow down global markets that have great potential and apply the right approach to conduct qualitative interviews in the region. Our greatest strength lies in two areas, namely delivering high-value outcomes through a strategic hands-on approach, such as participation in managing investment companies, and IDEO’s design services."
She explained that design has become a differentiator in highly competitive markets such as Silicon Valley, “and D4V is the only VC in Japan that possesses design capabilities”.
“We organise seminars to help start-ups implement IDEO's unique people-oriented designs and advise how they can apply various design tools. We give priority to our customers to attend these seminars to help them gain further insights and knowledge."
Potential partnerships with Hong Kong companies
D4V has yet to establish direct ties with Hong Kong, but Inoue expressed an interest in finding out more.
"Hong Kong could be an interesting location to advance for a number of D4V clients. For example, in the fashion industry, Hong Kong has a very acute understanding of Japanese fashion, and the close proximity between the two locations would make it easier to launch outlets in Hong Kong. We have already set our sights on countries such as Thailand and India, but we feel there is potential for helping Japanese enterprises expand into Hong Kong if we can find suitable partners regionally and attract investors to raise funds for these companies overseas."
She added that any Hong Kong company that is keen to expand into the unique Japanese market and is looking for potential partners in Japan is welcome to approach D4V to discuss potential collaboration.
"There’s a chance that we might also invest in start-ups that can bring about a positive impact on Japan such as creating social improvement or revolutionising certain industries, even if they are just ideas or working concepts."
Asked about the low participation of women in the Japanese venture capital industry, Inoue accepted that she has stood out from the crowd, adding: "As the number of female Japanese entrepreneurs is still low today, I hope we can attract more women from Hong Kong to come to Japan."
Passionate and willing to go the extra mile
Inoue described the thrill of being involved in a VC, describing it as very different from her previous experience working as a consultant.
"Entrepreneurs are always passionate and will go the extra mile to excel in their work. This positive energy motivates me. We can see results in start-ups in a short period of time whereas it might take years to come to fruition in large-scale corporations."
D4V is undoubtedly a company with high energy and a passion for driving innovation in Japan through its design capabilities and strong support for start-ups.
Hong Kong – a springboard to share the joys of cooking
ABC Cooking Studio offers cooking classes for all ages, genders and skill levels. Established in Japan, the company has expanded its business to other Asian countries and operates three studios in Hong Kong. Ian Mak, Managing Director of ABC Cooking Studio Hong Kong, believes the city can be a bridge connecting Japanese and Chinese cultures.
Hitachi Capital: leveraging Hong Kong’s advantages as a management hub
Seizing China opportunities
A publicly listed company and a subsidiary of the Hitachi Group, Hitachi Capital is dedicated to providing specialised financial services in six major areas: social infrastructure, environmental-friendly and renewable energy, vendor finance, vehicle leasing, healthcare and agriculture. It plays a vital role in supporting other subsidiaries within the group and their customers by offering optimal financial solutions.
The Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan are among the most important markets for the group, which has more than 200 subsidiaries spanning the region. In 2016, Hitachi Capital Management (China) Ltd (HCMC) was established in Hong Kong with the aim of providing streamlined and efficient support to businesses in the region.
Leveraging Hong Kong advantages
HCMC Managing Director Masashi Takeda said: "When one makes an investment in China, one must always follow the requisite regulations and procedures while ensuring flexibility in potential business expansion. The future trend is not to increase direct capital investment, but to seek alternatives to meet the demands of new funding requirements. We work very hard to explore and discover new channels to satisfy such needs.”
Just as many multinational companies have set up their corporate treasury centres in Hong Kong, Hitachi Capital also established its headquarters for offshore financial management in Hong Kong. Takeda said Hong Kong has a stable and well-established legal system, a deep talent pool of financial and legal professionals, advanced infrastructure and a mature market that make the city an ideal hub for financial services.
Capital raising with ease
Leveraging the ease of putting together syndicated loans from banks in Hong Kong and acquiring cross-border financing within the group, HCMC can suitably serve as a facilitator and fund raising centre for the group’s subsidiary leasing companies. HCMC can also maximise cash flow by integrating all functions of factoring and asset control of the group with the Hong Kong office. In addition, it also brings benefits by diversifying capital source, such as issuing cross-border RMB bonds and Panda bonds (renminbi-denominated bond from a non-Chinese issuer) and also raising US dollar funds in Hong Kong.
Supporting the group's principle of “monozukuri” (manufacturing focused)
Whereas dividends collected by a Japanese business from a Chinese mainland entity is subject to a 10% withholding tax, the withholding tax is only 5% when the source is a Hong Kong entity. This could help save cost for the company.
After restructure, HCMC has now become the holding company of the affiliates and subsidiaries of the Hitachi Capital group, including subsidiaries in the business of leasing and factoring in the mainland. This further increases the efficiency in capital investments. Takeda is also considering further availing the Hong Kong headquarters of its strength in businesses other than financing and supporting the various management functions of Hitachi Capital in China.
In 2016, public sector projects in China comprise more than 80% of the total sale assets of the group. Hitachi Capital aims to diversify its projects by setting up joint venture leasing companies with local companies and forging partnership with regional governments. Takeda believes that HCMC is poised to play a more pivotal role in Hitachi Capital’s further expansion as it capitalises on the fast-growing infrastructure opportunities in China.
K&C Creation – Applying Japanese Design Know-how in Hong Kong
Embracing opportunities in Hong Kong
Since its establishment in Hong Kong in 1996, local interior design company K&C Creation has collaborated with many famous Japanese brands including Uniqlo, Franc and Yoshinoya. The company was founded by Managing Director Tadashi Kono, who decided to settle in Hong Kong and set up his own business having worked in the city for six years.
During his early years in Hong Kong, Kono found himself motivated by local people, who were very receptive to foreigners and supportive of entrepreneurship. His fascination for the city grew so much that he named his company K&C, with "K" taken from the initial of his family name and "C" standing for “Chinese”, including the people of Hong Kong.
"Hong Kong is not a very big market, but it’s one that’s worth exploring," said Kono. "It was simple to set up my business here since the taxation and legal regulations are easy to understand. Hong Kong people are open-minded and we receive many job recommendations and referrals through the connections we make, meaning we don’t need to pitch for jobs ourselves in this highly competitive market.”
For Kono, his company’s most memorable project to date was working on Uniqlo's first global flagship store at the Lee Theatre complex in 2013. The initial design originated from Uniqlo's head office in Japan but it was a large-scale complex project spanning a gross floor area of 700 square metres over three floors.
Various challenges and difficulties were encountered during the project, but K&C Creation could deliver on time by leveraging on the networks and technological know-how it had built up over the years.
Redefining the office concept
Things are always busy at K&C Creation and its staff sometimes have to work long hours, so when the company moved its current Hung Hom location in late 2017, Kono decided to redefine the concept of the office by making it about both work and leisure.
His bold idea was to create a space where half is a working area for his interior designers and the other half is a cafe, named &Green, that’s also open to the public. It marks a new direction for the company, with the comfortable atmosphere helping to bring a sense of relief to its busy designers.
Kono's next objective is to be the first Hong Kong company to introduce a wallpaper-gluing machine from Japan that can enhance work efficiency, accuracy and quality. He’s also looking to promote a warmer and more comfortable lifestyle by expanding his new café business.
Fuji TV – Distributing Content through Hong Kong to the World
Business opportunities exist where people gather
The Hong Kong International Film and TV Market (FILMART) is the largest entertainment trade fair in Asia and is held annually in Hong Kong. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, this year’s fair, held in late March, attracted more than 800 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions. Among them was a record high tally of 220 exhibitors from the Chinese mainland.
Fuji Television Network was one of the exhibitors at the fair. So Fujinuma, Flying Producer, Director of the Worldwide Production and Business Development, explained that it was a rewarding experience.
“This was an event on a very large scale, with every booth extravagantly set up to highlight its own unique characteristics. I also liked the way exhibitors seized the chance to engage in meetings with visitors. It was a very meaningful exhibition for our company as we were able to engage with many companies from the China mainland that have the potential to become important trading partners.”
Promoting Fuji’s content overseas
Fuji TV’s overseas business has been a focus of the company for more than 40 years, but in recent years it has seen a significant surge.
“We are still getting through the trial and error process and we are open to challenges without defining boundaries for our dramas and films,” Fujinuma said.
Recent success stories include the screenplay for The Confidence Man JP, which was written by veteran screenwriter Ryota Kosawa - well-known for other productions such as the film Always: Sunset on Third Street, and the drama Legal High.
Through FILMART, the company has been able to sell drama scripts to overseas companies, helping to gain international recognition for Japan’s high-quality content.
Expect surprises along the way
Fujinuma shared his view on the current situation for the content business industry and its longer-term potential.
“For a long time, we have dealt with a complicated system for handling copyright in Japan and unfortunately the situation is not improving. At the same time, competition is beginning to intensify as distribution and production companies in China get more funding to enhance the quality of their productions,” he said, noting that production and broadcasting companies generally tend to be separate entities in overseas countries.
“By comparison, Japanese broadcasting stations have the advantage of being able to air unique programmes that they produce independently. We hope to leverage on this strength and continue to promote appealing content to more regions, including China, Europe and the rest of the world.”
Based on his own experience, Fujinuma has some advice to give to companies with plans for overseas expansion.
“Expect surprises along the way when promoting your work overseas. For example, content that you predict will do well may turn out to be a failure. Conversely, programmes you think will not stand a chance may receive a surprisingly positive response, Fujinuma said.
“I hope you can promote your work to as many people as you can when venturing overseas, and if things don’t go according to plan at first, always remember that new business opportunities may arise.”
Hong Kong: illuminating a world of business opportunities for start-ups
Japanese start-up A-Sum focuses on smart-lighting for offices. The company is using Hong Kong as a platform to reach out to international buyers through the “Startup Zone” at the HKTDC Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition).
Crossfor – Promoting the 'Dancing Stone' from Hong Kong
Hong Kong as a gateway to the world
Crossfor is a company that continues to strive for excellence in the jewellery industry, despite sales plunging in Japan in recent years.
March 2018 marked the company's 20th time to participate in the internationally acclaimed HKTDC Hong Kong International Jewellery Show which, together with the fifth Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem and Pearl Show, attracted 87,000 buyers from 145 countries and regions.
“Hong Kong has a comprehensive network of airlines, accommodation, facilities and infrastructure, helping to make this jewellery show an important event for us to showcase our products to the world,” said Hidetaka Dobashi, CEO of Crossfor.
Hong Kong also offers unique business advantages. On the Chinese mainland there are taxes for trading jewellery such as an import tax and value-added tax (similar to the consumption tax in Japan), while Hong Kong remains a free port where traders can enjoy a low-tax or tax-free environment. This is highly advantageous to traders, who tend to avoid regions where high taxes are levied.
Since setting up its subsidiary in Hong Kong in 2007, Crossfor has used the city as a platform to seek partnerships around the world. Currently, 50% of the company’s profits are derived from exports. Another advantage Hong Kong offers is the ease of hiring English-speaking employees, and the widespread use of English for communication in the workplace.
Regarding overseas expansion, Dobashi said: “Companies need to learn and adapt to the rules in various countries around the world. In doing so, they can learn to be more flexible in responding to changes.”
The story of the “Dancing Stone”
After conducting extensive research and development, Crossfor devised the “Dancing Stone” in 2010 – viewed as revolutionary by the global jewellery industry at the time. The “Dancing Stone” uses unique technology in the stone setting that converts the slightest movement of the wearer into vibrational energy, which in turn makes the centre stone swing incessantly.
Dobashi added: “Although it took a lot of effort to acquire patent rights in Japan and other countries around the world, we managed to secure intellectual property rights and were able to proceed smoothly with our overseas business expansion strategy.”
As a result, the “Dancing Stone” has obtained patents in 10 countries and design rights in 19 countries as of July 2018. Patents are still pending in various other countries.
Looking ahead, Dobashi is positive regarding the company’s future business development.
“Although it is important to anticipate any challenges and changes that may arise, companies should continue to create ground-breaking products,” he said. “We have already built a strong customer base in the mainland, Europe and the United States, and we are now looking to diversify into regions such as India, Africa and Southeast Asia.”