EFFICIENCY AND NETWORKING THE KEY TO HONG KONG’S APPEAL FOR DESIGN FIRM

The buzz of creative minds is almost audible among the cluttered streets of Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district, which is why brand and design management firm OscarRichard Ltd chose to set up shop there

Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district has grown into a thriving centre for the creative industries. For Oscar Venhuis, managing director at OscarRichard Ltd, it’s the perfect location for his communications, brand and design management firm. “Affordable, exciting and only a stone’s throw from the bankers and retailers of Central, which make up the lion’s share of our clientele,” he said.

Sitting with Venhuis in his loft-style offices, with two of his seven staff members hard at work on a large central table, it’s easy to imagine that he’s been in Asia his wholelife. His Korean looks belie his European upbringing and design influences. Adopted by Dutch parents, he spent his childhood and teen years absorbed in the creative heartland of Amsterdam. He later studied at the Royal College of Art in London, followed by a Masters in Design Management from the University of Birmingham.

“Absolutely the right choice for our kind of business”

As he moved into his professional life, he found himself commuting between Europe and Asia with increasing frequency, first to Hong Kong and Shenzhen and later to Beijing for 18 months. Finally the draw was too powerful. “I’ve worked in China and Hong Kong and Hong Kong is absolutely the right choice for our kind of business,” Venhuis explained. He added that Mainland China remains a tough market for small design companies to break into. “It’s an environment where you need to be one of the massive international agencies or you need to be really price sensitive.”

Venhuis and his business partner, Richard, took the step of registering a company in 2008 but did not start operations until early this year. “Over the past two years there has been a real rise in the creative industries in Hong Kong. There is a much greater awareness of its role and how it cuts across all sectors. The Hong Kong Government is also taking it more seriously and investing heavily,” Venhuis explained.

Since then, Venhuis and have not looked back. “In one word what I like best about Hong Kong is its efficiency. It’s a hugely organised city with next to no red tape. We had a business up and running in less than four weeks,” he said.

Venhuis also pointed to the networking system in Hong Kong. “It’s unique,” he said. “People are open and receptive to new ideas and new companies, and referrals are really common. This kind of networking is invaluable for all companies but particularly for SMEs like us.”

Organic expansion in Hong Kong and the region
Despite a strong client list, and a growing team, Venhuis said the company’s aim was to grow organically. “We’re focusing on Hong Kong and starting to look at some other really interesting markets in the region: Singapore, Korea and Japan,” he said.

But he still thinks there’s a lot more to do in Hong Kong. “We see great potential for brand development and management in the financial services and retail sectors, and Hong Kong is the best place in Asia for both these industries.”

Networking opportunities for new companies
InvestHK has played a key role in OscarRichard’s development in Hong Kong, including assistance with work visas and access to service providers. The company has also enjoyed invitations to various networking events including the SOPA Awards gala dinner, and a reception held by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to welcome new investors. “I’d recommend the InvestHK networking opportunities to any business new to Hong Kong,” Venhuis advised.

 

Fast Facts: Oscar Richard

  • Founded by two European entrepreneurs in 2012
  • Comprehensive services covering aspects of web technology, digital marketing and social media