Singapore is more entrepreneur friendly than Hong Kong, according to Osome, which offers a paperless service that helps start-ups with registration and operations.
The Singapore-based company, which launched in Hong Kong this month and was fully operational starting Tuesday, said a firm can be incorporated within an hour in the Lion City, a process that can take up to a day in Hong Kong.
“In Singapore we can send all the information to the local government agencies online. In Hong Kong, it takes a bit longer, but we can still incorporate a company within a day,” said Victor Lysenko, Osome’s founder and chief executive.
The company said on Tuesday it had secured US$3 million in a fresh round of funding from venture capitalists and angel investors led by Target Global. Founded in January 2018, Osome assists companies with accounting, taxation, company formation and the filing of reports through its online platform.
And six months of anti-government protests have not deterred it from expanding in Hong Kong. The company said there were plenty of reasons to set up shop in the special administrative region – one being the bigger market it can offer. Hong Kong has about 1.2 million registered entities, while Singapore has only 300,000.
Osome’s platform suits the Hong Kong market, which will also maximise its investment in product development, the company said. Both former colonies of the United Kingdom, Singapore and Hong Kong are former members of the Commonwealth and essentially share the same legal framework.
The bottleneck in Hong Kong occurs as it requires that some documents be signed and filed in person.
“There are some technological things that the government agencies here in Singapore already do, and these don’t work as smoothly as they should in Hong Kong,” said Konstantin Lange, Osome’s chief operating officer.
Osome’s position on Singapore reflects the conclusions of several surveys that suggest Singapore, widely considered as Hong Kong’s rival, is better placed to become the region’s top business hub, including annual rankings released by Switzerland-based IMD Business School in May and the World Bank’s ease of doing business report released last month.
The company said proceeds from its latest funding round, in which venture fund Psytech Venture and marketing firm and start-up investor Adfirst also took part, will be used mainly to expand services in Hong Kong, as well as the UK. “We know that we are solving a real problem for customers, wherever they are located,” Lysenko said.
“Osome is on the frontline of gov-tech in every country it operates, including Hong Kong. We digitise every step of corporate communications, as far as governments allow it. In Hong Kong, we use e-filing for incorporation and electronic signatures for corporate resolutions. We are also in close communication with the Hong Kong government about the introduction of e-IDs in the middle of 2020, when we will be able to offer our Hong Kong clients online incorporation,” he added.
Osome’s long-term plans include expansion in other former Commonwealth countries, such as New Zealand and Australia. It is in talks with venture funds and angel investors, including those from Hong Kong, to raise “larger tickets of money” next year, the company said without providing details.
The company was initially funded by Lysenko, who invested US$1.5 million, and raised US$2 million from venture capitalists in December 2018.