A month of networking.

Business cards exchanged

In the past two weeks, I managed to replace my new box of business cards with other people’s business cards. I guess it goes to show how much networking I’ve been doing. I’m loving every part of it. Having met some extraordinary people, they have totally given me new inspiration and energy to keep improving.

I managed to travel to Taipei and Shanghai to get a view of the current trends and see what can a young hkie guy can learn and take something back to HK. I had very mixed feelings about each cities and about where I stand in each of them.

In HK, I felt like the general public are focusing on the smallest issues that aren’t really helpful to push HK forward. Everyday you hear about the Hang Seng Index going up and down. Everyone next to you would ask “is this a good time to buy HSBC?” The government is not very capable, slow reactions and short sighted. Everyday, people are worried about being poisoned from China produce. The media discusses whether the behaviour of some law members are appropriate instead of discussing the real problems. All of these, I think we’re wasting alot of time and opportunities. HK people should embrace China, but I think we’re still quite far from that. Deep in HK people’s heart, they still rather not deal with Chinese if they don’t have to. Because of this, I feel like building a startup and embracing China is already a major leap from most competition.

In Taiwan, I feel like it is already a fact that they can’t survive without China. Most people have already gone to work in China since their native language and culture is more or less the same. Taipei has given me a very empty feeling. I feel all the young talent have left the country. HK is lucky to be able to benefit from China, keeping a close relationship while still having the freedom of speech and the mix of international companies.

In Shanghai, I feel like I’m already here too late. Things are happening quickly and they have always been the center of the country. There’s alot of expats that have been here much longer than me and can speak better mandarin than me. I’m already late to this game, but I think there’s still alot of room and still at its early stages. The scale of things in China is just amazing. Even though HK and Taiwan is so close to China, most people doesn’t feel that they’re part of the Country. Simply because the buildings and city planning haven’t had that enormous view of the mainland. The main rail stations in China are just bigger than anything.

There’s definitely some advantages in each place and definitely need to work together to make it work. I can’t see either of them can do it alone. As always, time will tell, but I hope I can connect some people together drive it in the right direction.

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Heading to Ad:Tech Shanghai

I’ll be heading to Ad:Tech Shanghai next week. I managed to score a ‘free’ consolatory ticket from Napolean, one of the winners from Web Wednesday pulled out. My China Mobile will be: 15805816124, just give me a call or sms.

November turned out to be my conferencing month. I’ve met alot of people and had a lot of fun at the Big Question in Taipei. Bill has written up a good summary from his blog. One thing that did surprise me was the lack of people in Taipei, even at the 101 Building, maybe I’ve gotten used to the congested HK.

I’ll consolidate my learnings after this Shanghai, Hangzhou tour. I’m also little surprised to see there’s actually alot of westerners speaking very good mandarin and doing alot of things within the Chinese community – in HK, Taiwan and China.

Technologies I cannot live without.

Could I have lived my life the way I do now 10 years ago? I don’t think so. I only had my first mobile phone around ten years ago. Thankfully, the world do change in good ways (sometimes). Although I never had to worry about the petrol prices ten years ago.

In the last 10 years, communication speed and cost have improved exponentially.

I can now run a distributed development team across Australia, HK and China. Firstly, for political reasons, it is much harder to start companies in China 5 years ago. Now that China is heading to WTO, there’s less and less barriers to enter China. Also, only recently the 80s born have just graduated from University, this is the group of people that are grown with the internet. It would be much harder to find web development talents in China 5 years ago.

Crossing borders between HK and China, especially Shenzhen, has dramatically improved with the introduction of self-service finger print smart ID gateways. Direct bus service to shenzhen airport from HK with check-in service has just opened 2 months ago. Opening RMB account is alot simpler now than before.

With the new technologies like Skype , 3G, blackberries, I can communicate with anyone anywhere cheaply. I use the 3G mobile modem plan in Australia, I can basically work anywhere. In HK, there’s a new 3G skypephone plan that only launched 2 months ago and it gives 4000 mins / month on skype. Online applications are also useful for communication and collaborations, like basecamp, facebook, google reader (sharing feed items) , del.icio.us

The power of the laptops and CPU are already over delivering. The size of the macbook pros with such great power is just unimaginable 10 years ago. Multi-touch technologies were only seen in research videos even just 3 years ago. From the walkmans to the ipod to the iphone is just amazing. Now I can pack all of my songs and work anywhere with a macbook + iphone. With this mobility empowerment, I think there’ll be alot more interesting ways on how people interact with each other. We’re not locked inside an office anymore. I would really like to see how will the office space change in the next 10 years.

Travelling to China from HK through Shenzhen airport (part 2)

The best websites I’ve ever used to buy plane ticket is http://www.ctrip.com. They are actually a public company listed on Nasdaq. One caveat is that they don’t accept overseas credit card. You’ll have to have a friend in China to buy it for you, or you can one a China credit card with Bank of China (中国银行). Otherwise you can also buy domestic tickets with China Travel Service (中国旅行社), although they are a little more expensive. With an e-ticket, you can check-in by showing your ID without printing anything.

On ctrip you’ll usually find that most tickets are discounted at over 50-70%. It can cost as low as $380 CNY to travel from Shenzhen to Shanghai one way + tax ($150) ,ie total $530CNY. 中国旅行社 might cost you around $700. If you buy ticket from HK to Shanghai, it can cost well over $1000 HKD one way. So if you travel to China often, you can save alot of money by going through Shenzhen.

To book for hotels, there’s koubei.com or kooxoo.com. If you want to have a look at the surroundings, you can use edushi.com, which has 3D virtual worlds of most major cities. It will be alot easier if you use a China credit card to book for hotels. For $200/night, you can find decent rooms for business use.