“Hong Kong has an excellent infrastructure, abundant resources, and a growing startup community to provide support.”
Julian Gaertner, Co-founder of Live It China
Live It China is building a free and open platform from Hong Kong to help expatriates and overseas university students find language partners in the region
Live It China is an online language exchange platform and the brainchild of co-founders, Daniel Ropski and Julian Gaertner. It was developed when they were university exchange students in Mainland China and found it difficult to find a suitable Chinese tutor or language school. Live It China was created as a startup company after receiving a cash grant of HK$100,000 from Hong Kong’s Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF) Scheme. In March 2012, it was admitted to the Cyberport Incubation Programme and has now expanded to a team of six staff with offices in the Philippines, Hong Kong and plans for a presence in Mainland China.
“The Micro Fund enabled us to develop the beta version of Live It China and the incubation programme enabled us to turn our ideas into a real product, raise funding from private investors and take our business to the next stage,” Ropski said.
Live It China will re-launch its website in Hong Kong next year targeting expatriates and overseas university students in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Macau and Zhuhai who need a companion to start their journey in Chinese language learning.
Proximity to Mainland Market
To be successful in Mainland China, Gaertner believes it is important to connect to the local community and understand their culture. “This will be easier if people can find exchange partners or tutors through our platform, and ‘live’ the language,” he said.
“Hong Kong is the ideal base from which to grow our business because it is very close to the Pearl River Delta. Many westerners work and study here. The city also has an excellent infrastructure, abundant resources, and a growing startup community to provide support,” Gaertner enthused.
Apart from helping learners to find a language partner, Live It China also serves as a platform for schools to advertise their language courses and better target their core audiences. Once people sign up for a free membership, they can find tutors, language exchange partners and schools that match their needs. They can also share their learning experience with others and post reviews of teachers and schools.
Gaertner found InvestHK’s services through Google Search and the referral from a graduate of the University of Hong Kong. InvestHK provided tailor-made business advice for setting up in Hong Kong, helped with liaising between other government departmentsand lined up media interviews for the startup to gain exposure.
“It is extraordinary to live in Hong Kong. The city is young and energetic with multinational companies, so it is the perfect place for innovative products. The competitive environment here can make us competitive everywhere,” he concluded.
Fast Facts: Live It China
- Established in December 2011
- Founded by two graduates from the US and Germany who are passionate aboutChinese culture