Hong Kong may be recognized as the tech darling of China’s south coast. But its sister territory, just a four-hour ferry across the Zhujiang River Estuary, has a startup scene of its own. And while the former Portuguese colonial possession may be better known for its lurid architecture and moneybags casinos, Macau’s entrepreneurs are founding companies addressing a wide range of problems, in industries across the board.
This February the special administrative region, home to just 650,000 people, announced a startup competition, Parafuturo de Macau. “There are more exciting things to invest in nowadays,” said the event’s CEO Jose Chui Sai Peng. “We no longer have to put all of our money in properties. You can put your money in a good project.” He’s right. Here are five Macanese firms making waves, in China and beyond.
TakeWant (Take What You Want) is Macau’s leading homegrown e-commerce and web business platform, catering to a huge number of items from dog treats to digital recorders. It may not have the clout of bigger companies on the mainland – by now almost all of which have settled into the Tencent/Alibaba duopoly. But with localized content and a chance to connect with Macau’s small and medium enterprises, TakeWant has a great foothold in a market with a mobile penetration of over 100%.
2. Follow Me Macau
At 32m, the number of annual tourists who flood Macau far outweigh its local population – plenty enough need to justify the creation of FollowMe Macau, an online portal hooking up visitors with food, drink and events in the region. Founded and managed by Portuguese sales veteran Marco Duarte Rizzolio, who has worked in Macau for over four years, the platform is a win-win for local customer-facing businesses, and travelers.
Singou’s Butler 1 robot might look more like a pile of moving boxes than a leading real estate tool. But the Macau-built product has enjoyed a purple run of business success – first joining hands with Chinese mainland real estate portal Juwai this April, then, in the same month, heading to the US to attempt to expand into its market. The Mandarin-speaking solution is, according to its maker, “superior to a fixed device for interactions with consumers in terms of customer service in remote locations.” It certainly looks cute enough.