Business / Technology

Innovation, unique business models help IT startups thrive

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-08-04 16:07

HONG KONG - Innovation and unique business models help Internet and Information Technology (IT) startups to survive and thrive in today's fierce market competition, Internet and IT professionals told Xinhua in a recent interview.

As once young entrepreneurs like Ding Lei and Ma Huateng, who started their companies amid the tide of Internet startups in the 1990s at their 30s, become IT tycoons in China, their stories are encouraging a new generation of Internet startups which are trying their best to find their place in today's fierce market.

"It's hard for small Internet startups to survive in the market, " said Witman Hung, president of Hong Kong's Internet Professional Association.

"A unique business model is crucial. However, it is difficult for a company to get its business model patented, which will often result in the company being acquired by a giant IT company or its model being copied by competitors," Hung said.

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While a special business model and an innovation team can help a company win over others at an initial stage, Hung said marketing is also crucial if it wants to attract customers in the long run.

Meanwhile, Hung said venture companies prefer to put their investment on fledging Internet companies from the Chinese mainland rather than Hong Kong because of the enormous market behind them, "The more input, the more returns," he noted.

Beijing-based Internet startup China Binary, which made its initial public offering last year in Hong Kong, attracted investors' eyes after its business model became clearer several years after it came into operation.

"Small Internet companies like us have to escape from the shadow of those BATs (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) if we want to survive in the mainland," said Sun Jiangtao, chief executive officer of the company.

Sun said the company mainly provides online transaction services, facilitating transactions between online game operators and online game users, and offers mobile top-up services to mobile subscribers. All services operate in their independent "Shenzhoufu" system.

"We combine different users with various requirements through our system, and now we are focusing on digital technology researching and marketing. We will dig more gold from it," said Sun, while echoing Hung's view that a special business model is the key if an Internet startup wants to avoid being acquired by BATs.

Kenny Qian, vice-president of Hong Kong-based phone apps solution company Cherrypicks, told Xinhua that the company encourages its staff to be sensitive to the world's current trends, especially the latest IT and Internet innovations. Cherrypicks is well-known for its IT innovation and has won awards worldwide.

"Whenever we are to develop a brand new product, we try to avoid duplication in technology. We also create an open working environment for our staff, encouraging them to go outside and broaden their visions," said Qian.

"An Internet or IT startup should always be ready to adjust to the ever-changing market, and a clear positioning and a long-time strategic plan is vital for the beginners," he said.

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