Henry Au is a serial entrepreneur currently exploring startups in FinTech, AR/VR and more. We talk to him about what keeps him occupied these days and about Hong Kong as a test bed for Irish startups.
What is your background briefly?
Engineer, IT, Lecturer, Banking, PE, VC, Startup, Head Hunter.
Does it seem like a logical background to what you’re currently involved with?
Yes, a broad experience is needed to support me to advise listed companies and startups.
1 minute pitch for what you do now.
Currently I’m the CEO and on the Board of Directors of a listed company in Canada whose business is in the AR/VR space. I founded and advise a few startups in the areas of FinTech, BeautyTech, Food servicing, EduTech, advertisement in a few countries in Asia such as China, HK, and Korea. I also carry my own investment advisory firm for corp in pre-IPO and post-IPO as well as syndication loans and financing for M&A.
I founded FinAlly to build an online insurance service with auto service using the AI system.
Fireswirl has developed a fitness application called VX for indoor cycling and spinning class to provide a virtual environment in the Gym room and also measure all the metrics for the coach and the user.
How is the business environment in Hong Kong conducive to the growth of startups and how would you convince Irish startups to set up there?
HK has the simplest Tax system and familiar legal system based on the British one.
It is a multinational city with multi-culture which attract talents from all around the world.
Although the running cost may be high due to land cost and salary but the quality and efficiency of the team will bring large benefit to the operations. Also the location of HK as a hub to china and south east Asia make it the best choice for building a global or regional centre for the company. Infrastructure is also one of the best in all Asian cities.
What’s your take on blockchain and its ability to revolutionise the banking and financial industries?
Blockchain can reduce a lot of work load and processes in consumer and corp banks. I’m also working on using smart contracts for InsureTech. Blockchain helps to decentralise a lot of transactions and exchange functions and remove the need for legacy and costly authorised centres.
Tell us about your involvement with and about the fintech startup FinAlly.
As CEO of Finally in HK, I’m involved in product design to business development, from partnership to financial management.
What’s your take on increased interests in the VR market and how is your company Fireswirl capitalising on that?
I have been involved in VR technology since I was in Microsoft which helps MS to develop consumer products like Kinect and games. But we still in search for killer apps. We found that we should use the tech in our daily life not just for gaming. So we focus on the Fitness market. While Fireswirl has high interest in moving from E-commence to a new tech market, we have acquired a VR company in HK. As a listed company in Canada, we are going to bring the product to North America and fine tune it to fit in the global consumer market.
How according to you has the startup conference RISE brought recognition to businesses in Asia? Is there any particular success story that you’d like to share?
The startup conference is good for small companies to show off their ideas and products to more audience who they won’t be able to reach from their private network as most startup founders don’t have much corp experience before. It is a good networking opportunity to build your business network but disclosing your great idea too early will increase the risk to startup.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add/ we should have asked?
Why I expanded the Microsoft office in Dublin? Talents, location and Tax
As Ireland can attract many IT companies and also create lots of startup on tech space, how would I compare the 2 environment? Talents, location and Tax Funding, Market, Network.
What will be the different in Tech trend in Asia and Ireland? Finance, payment, beauty, mobile.