Leonard Ng Sze-hin, who emigrated to Australia three years ago, is one of Hong Kong’s most popular bloggers.
Ng, now a part-time resident of the city, writes about everything from travel and business to digital products.
Recently, he developed his first successfully commercialized app.
Aimed at reducing the administrative workload for teachers, his education app KeptMe is now used by more than 500 schools in places such as Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and Singapore, as well as in Hong Kong.
The hit app has helped Ng attract US$1 million of seed money to his start-up software firm.
How did the idea for the app come to him?
Ng has two sons, Jacob, nine, and Chester, six.
“I want to know how my sons have been doing at school. But the teachers said they won’t be able to tell me until the term ends,” Ng told StartupBeat, a tech news site operated by the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
“I asked them why, and they replied that they have no time to prepare the reports.”
That was when the idea of developing an app that can help digitize school reports came to Ng’s mind.
Many Australian schools, including kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, require their teachers to hand out reports on the learning progress of students after the term ends.
Both Ng and his wife were teachers, so they know how to make life easier for them.
Ng decided that if he could cut the administrative burden of teachers, they would have more time to take care of his children.
KeptMe simplifies the report-making process to just a few clicks on the app. Many teachers are interested.
Ng’s blogging experience has helped in his app writing business.
“Starting a business is far from inventing something behind closed doors. They are totally different,” he said.
“Invention is not just about yourself. To create something useful to other people, it’s important to listen and communicate.”
Writing a blog has plenty of benefits, like increasing one’s willingness to share and clarify one’s thoughts, Ng said.
Although Ng’s family is in Australia, he spends half his time in Hong Kong and chose to register KeptMe in the city.
The firm is applying to an incubation program run by Hong Kong Science & Technology Parks Corp.
He hopes the Hong Kong government can do more to support and promote local start-ups.
Ng sees the city as a springboard for introducing his app to other parts of the world.
Not many start-ups survive. Ng is facing his fair share of challenges.
With limited staff and resources, start-ups need very devoted employees. However, the long working hours mean family life will be compromised.
Some of his staff’s family members have been complaining about that. If the problem is left unsolved, Ng could continue to face a high employee turnover rate.
He tried to solve it in an unusual way — by talking to the family members directly.
“Let them know how successful their husbands or sons are,” he said.
“It is crucial to help the families to understand the situation. Some wives even joined the company after the talk,” Ng said.