Great ideas are here to stay, so stop dilly-dallying

Updated: 2017-03-10 08:00

(HK Edition)

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What's there in an ordinary looking counter top cook pot that has become a rage among its growing legion of fans in the United States? Ask Robert Wan who invented this multi-function electric cooker saying he wanted to make cooking easy for people.

In doing so, "we've created value for society", Wang told the BBC. And "that's actually rewarding for us", he said.

Wang's success story should serve as a reminder to Hong Kong's economic planners that innovation and creativity, which they've been trying so hard to push, is not all about the IT industry. We can't help but wonder how much time officials at the Innovation and Technology Bureau will give to an applicant for assistance to build cook pots rather than drones or other electronic gadgets before showing him the door.

Instant Pot - designed and built by Wang and his partners - looks commonplace enough. The innovative part is that it combines the functions of, you name it - pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, yogurt maker and warming pot. Unsurprisingly, Instant Pot has been rapidly gaining popularity after a slow start when it was launched in 2010.

All 215,000 Instant Pots were sold on Amazon Prime Day - the online retailer's global 24-hour annual sale event - outselling many popular electronics products, according to a BBC report.

A major hurdle to overcome was to make the pot as safe and foolproof as possible. Wang's technology background had helped with the design. He once worked at the now-defunct telecoms company Nortel, while one of his partners used to work at Blackberry.

Although Instant Pot faces growing competition from much bigger and better known brands, it still enjoys the advantage of being the first in the market. Wang has almost never advertised his product, preferring rather to rely on word of mouth.

Hong Kong entrepreneurs who always complain about how small the local market is should note that in designing his product, Wang wasn't aiming at any particular consumer group or market. He merely designed something that people anywhere would find useful in their daily chores.

So, just stop finding excuses and get on with it if you think you've a great idea.

Great ideas are here to stay, so stop dilly-dallying

(HK Edition 03/10/2017 page9)