FEBRUARY 7, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 5
Kenny, who studied management and mathematics at Cambridge University, knows what it's like to nurture Internet start-ups. His Taiwanese-American wife is co-founder and CEO of DotLove.com, whose website dispenses sexual and love-life advice to forlorn Chinese romantics. Indeed, Incubasia is also its own start-up. It recently secured $10 million in "angel" money to pay the bills and invest in other start-ups.
Kenny co-founded Incubasia last September with Jonathan Cheng, a well-connected 29-year-old Hong Kong financier. Cheng, who earned an M.B.A. in Canada, sees himself as a pioneer in Hong Kong's Internet crowd, having already financed or founded four start-ups. There are two other firms now in the Incubasia hatchery, a classified-advertising website and a company that is developing its own version of instant-messaging technology.
Kenny says Incubasia is planning to nurture between 15-17 new firms over the next year and a half. "We are looking for start-ups who take a global view of the markets," he says, "whatever sector it is." That might seem like an ambitious agenda, but in a typical week, Cheng and Kenny vet roughly half a dozen business ideas. Clients are welcome to move into Incubasia's office and help themselves to logistical support (including free Frisbees). The founders also provide expertise and up to $500,000 in financial assistance. And they specialize in one of the Internet's most treasured commodities--hype. "Our job is partly to be the evangelist for start-ups," says Kenny. "We have to get the message out." In return, Incubasia receives an equity stake in each company, usually between 33% and 50% of the start-up's capital. Within a year, armed with business and technological know-how, clients are expected to leave the nest and set up on their own.
Not every start-up wants so much hand-holding. Some clients prefer money to logistical support (just as some incubators prefer fees to equity). But Kenny and Cheng argue that the services incubators can provide are essential. "We could make the difference between whether a start-up fails or succeeds," says Kenny. "Our interests are aligned with the 'incubatee.' We don't do well unless they do well." Befitting the lean, mean culture of the Net, Incubasia is a mere four-person operation. But its 280-sq-m office space is sufficiently large to accommodate clients who decide temporarily to move in. To help cope with the long hours, Cheng had a baby room built in the office for his seven-month-old child. "Previously, I didn't have the luxury to do something like this full-time," he says. "Now there's enough interest in the marketplace." Luckily for Kenny and Cheng, that interest is lining up outside their door.
Reported by Wendy Kan/Hong Kong
First, Create the Hot Start-up
Then Pray for The Angel
Next, Call in The Venture Capitalist
Cozy Up with The Incubator
Now You Are Ready for The Listing
Or, You Can Just Sell Out
Write to TIME at email@example.com
TIME Asia home
Quick Scroll: More stories from TIME, Asiaweek and CNN
|Back to the top||
© 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.