Interesting interview with Jerome Tam from Hong Kong. As well as a trip down memory lane to a world before YouTube, see if you can guess where the name of his company came from…
What’s your story?
My co-founder, Jake Sharp, and I met at the University of Leeds, where he studied New Media and I did an undergraduate degree in Aviation. While he was studying for a Master’s degree in Computer Science and working for web agencies in the UK, I was pursuing my dream of becoming a pilot. I got as far as the flight grading process for Cathay Pacific (I was one of the final eight candidates that year). Long story short, life had a different plan for me – Rush Hour Media, the company Jake and I eventually co-founded.
When Jake decided to move to HK in 2011, he researched the web design agencies here and realised many of them had a very low standard of work – most of the websites weren’t even responsive (they didn’t work well on mobile devices)! So we decided to start a company that would bring simple, responsive and well designed websites to HK at a reasonable price point.
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s very fast paced. The design and technology driving websites are rapidly evolving, so it is important that we stay ahead of the game and on top of the latest technologies. There are a lot of new players entering the market; we like the competition, it makes it an exciting space to be in, and drives us to keep performing. The competition is also pushing agencies in Hong Kong to catch up with the rest of the world, in terms of website design, user experience and functionality.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Hong Kong, so Asia is my home. Having said that, I studied in the UK from the age of 12. I loved my time living abroad, but as soon as I graduated I moved back to HK. It was a difficult decision, as all of my friends were in the UK, but looking back, it was one of the best choices I have ever made: the opportunity was all in Hong Kong.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
For me, it has to be Hong Kong. There is so much support for SMEs. Most things run efficiently – unless you are dealing with a certain bank or Hong Kong internet provider. I’ve spent way too much of my life talking to the customer support helplines of those two companies! Apart from that, everything runs like clockwork. Right now is a particularly interesting time for tech startups in Hong Kong with the success of 9Gag and GoGoVan. And with the on going government focus on the startup scene here, there is plenty of money and media interest.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My dad has always said, “Be whatever you want to be – as long as you strive to become the best at what you do, you’ll be successful.” I have tried to live by his advice.
Who inspires you?
Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi and one of the internet pioneers in China. His success before Xiaomi is well documented, but what I admire the most is his courage to go up against the big boys – the likes of Samsung and Apple with Xiaomi. Who would have thought in 2010 that his startup could become the world’s third largest mobile phone maker in 5 years and take Uber’s place as the most valuable startup?
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently read that YouTube was launched in 2005. Only 10 years ago, that is crazy! What did we do on the toilet before that? Also, people tend not to remember but ShareYourWorld.Com was launched in 1997, eight years before YouTube. But it failed to take off and I guess most households didn’t have the internet in 1997.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Everything happens for a reason, so far no regrets!
How do you unwind?
Er, this is a bit nerdy, but I love playing a couple of rounds of Dota. It’s an online multiplayer game – a Chinese team won US$5,000,000 in a 2014 international tournament. I am no way near at that level, yet! But it is a good way to unwind, until you lose. I also enjoying cycling and cooking. And I probably spend way too much free time watching popular American TV shows, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Suits… You name it, I have probably seen it.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Philippines, lovely people, gorgeous beaches and cheap beer, need I say more?
Everyone in business should read this book:
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.
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