Elliot Leung is taking peer-to-peer in a new direction, ‘stuff-sharing,’ with the largest rentals platform in Hong Kong, Gaifong.
What’s your story?
I’ve always thought that buying everything you need from stores was a stupid idea.
In late-2014, I started on Google spreadsheet where 25 people listed their belongings for others to rent. People loved the idea so much that they kept on posting more and met up to try out each others’ stuff.
We took this one step further, raised some funding, built an MVP (minimum viable product), got a Cyberport grant and we’re now the largest rentals platform in Hong Kong, with 10,000 members and 3,000 items. We named the company Gaifong – ‘neighbours’ in Cantonese.
What excites you most about your industry?
The “peer-to-peer” economy, or “sharing economy,” is still in its infancy. Millennials are increasingly open to other forms of consumption, be it ride-sharing, flat-sharing or stuff-sharing. By 2030, we expect that half of consumer activity will be rentals and the rest will be ownership.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Born and raised here, although I’ve been a globetrotter, living in 6 countries and I have travelled to 40 different countries. I dream of an Asia where everybody speaks multiple neighbouring languages, much like in Europe.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong without a doubt. That’s why many overseas talents shop around Asia and decide to settle here. There’s such a dynamic population here and the talent pool is amazing. This will remain our home base for years to come.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Character, integrity, judgment.” This came from an ex-boss. Incredibly hard to maintain as you progress in your career, but increasingly important.
Who inspires you?
My parents. They’re among the hardest working people I know and they’re always kind. Kindness is such a rarity these days.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I was at a McDonald’s recently and inside was a long queue for ordering at the counter. There were over 15 people and the wait was 5 mins a least. Outside were THREE automatic ordering machines, with zero wait time. Guess what? Nobody was using them!
Best lesson in consumer behaviour, if there ever was one!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d fundraise better. I wasted a lot of time in the beginning approaching institutional investors. We were way too early, despite our optimism and promise. I switched to angel investors and things fell into place immediately. Reading all the blogs and articles online, we tend to forget that there are many ways to finance an early company.
How do you unwind?
Trail running. It helps me think clearly and re-energises my mind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Yunnan for sure. Mountains, quiet, lakes, chilli food.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Necessary Revolution by Peter Senge. All businesses must develop a sustainability strategy and this is a good place to start.
Shameless plug for your business:
Gaifong helps consumers rent anything they want from people nearby. Our mission statement is simple: “Peer-to-peer rentals for all”. Watch this space.
How can people connect with you?
[email protected], or if you’re in Hong Kong, just rent something from me on Gaifong!
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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