Some of Hong Kong’s most exciting and ground-breaking start-ups are run by female entrepreneurs. We break into their busy day, asking for advice that will inspire you to make it on your own. Today, we speak to Henrietta Tsui-Leung, founder of Ora-Ora.
Young entrepreneurs are on the rise as the new generation looks for more career fulfilment and seeks to make an impact on society – on their own terms. It’s an opportunity to carve out your own niche, and while there’ll always be a level of risk you’ll need to shoulder on your own, nothing beats the joy of finding start-up success and doing something you love.
But what does it mean to be a successful entrepreneur? We ask the city’s strongest Female businesswomen about their scalable start-ups and social enterprises.
Henrietta Tsui-Leung, Founder of Ora-Ora
A stellar career in finance and an MBA were among the things that drove Henrietta Tsui-Leung to co-found an art gallery and art advisory service, Ora-Ora. Since its establishment in 2006, Ora-Ora has introduced some of the most innovative artists to international collectors. In 2012, Tsui-Leung co-founded – with gallerist and art consultant Karin Weber – the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association, a non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing the interests of art galleries in Hong Kong.
Tell us about your best work day.
It would involve brainstorming curation of our museum shows and gallery exhibitions with my team. We share a passion for coming up with fresh and creative ideas to enhance discovery, exploration and presentation. After lunch, I love visiting our artists’ studios. There are so many secrets and insights we gain by being backstage and witnessing the flow of their creative processes. Finally, it’s often thrilling to take afternoon tea with a collector, update each other on the market and exchange possible interpretations of our discoveries.
What advice would you give someone looking to start up?
If you have an idea, I encourage you to follow it, have courage and start on your path. Research is a crucial first stage – finding gaps, seeking support and laying the groundwork. Your network is also important because, as your business grows, you’ll need to find team members and develop them.
Why’s Hong Kong an important market for you?
Hong Kong will always be important for me: this is where I’m from and where I’ve based my business. Naturally, I have a robust social, business and educational network here. I’ve also played a role in shaping the art market that we’ve seen develop in this city. We have a wonderful collector base here – highly educated, demanding and possessing the resources to pursue their interests. The absence of taxes on art sales also creates vital support for this growing industry, demonstrating the importance the government attaches to the art market.
What was your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
The biggest hurdle for any business in Hong Kong is the relatively small size of the local market, the restricted talent pool as a result, and the challenge of building an international network, but I was methodical and tenacious. I remember working from a whiteboard at home with my husband, brainstorming ideas to plan the business, and starting to mushroom our connections within Asia and beyond. We’re now at the point where we have a significant pool of international artists, and a collector base to match. Ten years ago, I founded the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association, which helped bring me into contact with my peers, and provided a supportive framework for all of us. As I develop my business into new product lines – our NFT offerings are one example – I always remember the value of partnership with experts. There’s always a significant amount of learning to be done.
If you were to invest in another start-up field, what would it be?
I’m investing in NFT-related advisory services and consultancy company, MetaKapital, based in Cyberport. It’s designed to ensure clients are well-positioned to take advantage of the vast and manifold opportunities the Metaverse will bring. Our research has indicated that very few businesses are preparing for this new way of interacting with the world.