Damien Bos has been busy since arriving in Hong Kong 8 years ago. He shares his story from his arrival, to finding employment to pay the bills, venturing into a start-up which he went on to sell, and most recently publishing a book, “Online Business in Asia.”
What’s your story?
I came to Hong Kong in 2007 without a job and not knowing anybody. My plan was to live and work in the city. I found a position in financial services which paid the bills, but I was always keen to get into a start-up and build something for myself. Back then there was no HK iTunes store, no daily deal sites, or online grocery stores, and e-commerce has come a long way in Hong Kong these past 7 years.
We launched PrivateSales.hk in 2012 when I saw the success of similar fashion flash-sales businesses in Europe and the US, and thought this model could also work well in Hong Kong. We attracted funding early on and built a small and focussed team around bringing exciting fashion sales to our thousands of customers across Hong Kong. We recently sold the business to one of our suppliers, and over the past 6 months I wrote the book “Online Business in Asia,” a how-to guide to getting started online in the region, by someone who has actually done it.
What excites you most about your industry?
E-Commerce in Asia is still in frontier territory, which means there are plenty of opportunities and challenges out there. It’s never been easier to get started with an online business; there are so many great tools out there allowing you to get up and running in an afternoon if you want to.
Working in online fashion in Hong Kong is exciting and one of the most active spaces in e-commerce. Despite the challenges of fitting and trying clothes on, Asians love to shop for apparel and accessories online. In our online store, we’re constantly changing the brands and selections of sale items available, which keeps things interesting for us as well as the customers!
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve spent over 10 years in Asia, most of these in Hong Kong, and I’ve also had the pleasure of being able to travel to most of the Asian countries over this time. Living and working in this part of the world really feels like you’re at the centre of the action, where the new ideas and explosive growth is emanating from. Hong Kong has a young and vibrant startup scene which makes it an exciting place to call home.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong has to be one of the easiest cities to get started in business. Everything is so efficient here and that means you can go from concept to launch in a matter of weeks (or less!). You can register a company in a week, and there are lots of tech professionals, startup guys, and young talent to draw from. The investment scene is improving, and government initiatives like Cyberport provide space and funding for new ventures.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Hire people for their character, their competency and their chemistry (with their existing team), in that order.
Who inspires you?
Bill Hybels of the Global Leadership Summit. His passion and commitment to leadership is incredible, and his books are my regular reference points.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Apparel is the number one product category purchased online in Hong Kong. Apparently Hong Kong people don’t mind not trying clothes on or feeling the fabric first!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Get networking and meet more people in your industry, especially the competition. You never know where the connections will lead. There are lots of people out there ready to help, partner, invest, or mentor you along the way and the sooner you get out there the better equipped you’ll be to see success in business. There’s no need to be a lone-ranger!
How do you unwind?
Hong Kong has some great beaches on the south side. In 20 minutes you can escape the city and be on a beach chair, sipping a coconut. There’s something about being near the ocean that keeps me centred.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
We recently went to Sri Lanka and had a fantastic time. The people were so friendly and helpful, and the place has a fresh, relaxed vibe that hasn’t been spoiled by too much tourism.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Shameless plug for your business:
It’s never been easier to start your own online business. Online Business in Asia by Damien Bos is the ultimate handbook to finding the right tools and learning how to start selling online to the world’s largest market. Pick up a copy today: http://www.onlinebusinessasia.com/ebook
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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