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Creativity, Compassion and Passion – the winning formula for start-ups

SpaceshipLocated in the DT Hub of Hong Kong Science Park in Tseung Kwan O, the office of Spaceship has an energetic and stylish interior design and a good view that can inspire your thoughts. Unlike most entrepreneurs who usually advise against starting a business without in-depth market knowledge, Chilam Lam, CEO and Co-founder of Spaceship, said the key lied not in your wish but in your the courage to do so. An entrepreneur must be courageous enough to kick start the business, instead of bothering too much. Indeed, very few people can find the right direction when starting a business. It is all by trial and error.

Chilam is a born entrepreneur. While he was studying nursing at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), he engaged in the online sale of Japanese fashion products. Upon graduation in 2008, Chilam continued with his online business while working as a nurse in a private hospital. He even operated a dessert restaurant once. He is very energetic and can work continuously for many hours without much sleep. Later, he decided to quit his nursing job and focus on his business when he saw the potential of e-commerce.

Many successful entrepreneurs usually have to learn from painful experiences. Chilam is no exception and so he encourages others to be brave enough to take the first step. In 2017, Chilam and Stanley Wong, his friend in his football team, pooled together a few millions to set up Shopkyo. Stanley is also a graduate from PolyU, with a bachelor’s degree in Enterprise Information System and a master’s degree in Multimedia and Entertainment Technology. Shopkyo planned to work with suppliers in Japan to develop the global chain business, but many Japanese companies were relatively conservative and could not deliver the services timely. When the start-up capital of millions of dollars has been almost used up, they managed to identify the potential opportunities from this bitter experience. They discovered that there were many pain points in the logistics business and so decided to venture into this area. They set up Spaceship to provide international logistics services and their clients include SMEs, e-commerce providers, online shops and even individuals.

They quickly managed to establish partnerships with more than 10 logistics providers around the world, providing customers with one-stop delivery services to over 280 countries. Apart from taking care of customs clearance, Spaceship provides pick-up services as well. The prices quoted are usually lower that other logistics providers and hence its service is very well-received by the market.

Stanley, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Spaceship, said, “It’s vital to master the market. Therefore, we always have to do data analyses in order to better understand our customers and provide them with better services.” In the past year, many people in Hong Kong have to send documents to the United Kingdom for extending their BNOs and the process is quite tedious. Spaceship thus launched the BNO delivery service. In addition to picking up the documents from the customers direct, Spaceship charges a fee which is cheaper than other speedy delivery companies, and so its service is highly recommended. Many customers who have enjoyed the BNO delivery service from Spaceship approached them directly and asked for the delivery service for immigration. Spaceship thus launched Spaceship Move and partnered up with immigration, overseas education and overseas estate consultancies to provide related services for customers.

Spaceship started to run the Spaceship Move business in October 2019 and its turnover reached HK$1 million within three months. The turnover in 2020 was as high as $50 million. With just a few employees at the beginning, the company now has over 40 staff members. The company has gone through two rounds of funding, seed funding and angel funding, to raise capital for business development. A branch office was set up in Taiwan last year and plans are underway to develop Southeast Asia markets.

PolyU has been encouraging its students to pursue entrepreneurship and Spaceship is among those promising start-ups which received the University's support. Spaceship secured a funding support of HK$1.5 million from the Tech Launchpad Fund Scheme of PolyU in 2019-21.

Apart from identifying market needs successfully, the chemistry and dynamic between the partners are also of paramount importance. Having betrayed by his partners before, Chilam particularly believes that it is crucial to choose the right partner. Good partners have to think alike and be complementary in capabilities. Chilam and Stanley are just the perfect match: Chilam oversees business development while Stanley takes care of internal operations. The core values of Spaceship are Creativity, Compassion and Passion – which indeed are the key to success for any start-up business.

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