Meet Henek Lo, Our COO
A seasoned tech executive who has led and built multiple venture-backed companies throughout his career, Henek is no stranger to the trials and tribulations of helping a business take flight.
As the founder and CEO of venture builder HYPE Asia, he has advised and operated over 40 start-ups in the region, including notable names such as Carousell, Snapask, and GOAT. Prior to founding HYPE Asia, he served as the General Manager for WeWork APAC and Airbnb Greater China, assisting them in expanding into key regional markets such as Hong Kong, Beijing, Korea, Japan, and Australasia.
Excerpts from the interview:
You've had a hand in starting and growing some incredibly successful businesses both regionally and globally - you've clearly got an eye for businesses with potential. What was it about Wristcheck that pushed you to come on board as Chief Operating Officer?
Opportunities are a perfect combination of the right place, right time and right people. Wristcheck is exactly that for me. Speaking from experience as a long time tech operator and entrepreneur, Hong Kong is notoriously hard to scale a startup due to how expensive but small (in terms of population) the market is. For most of the ventures I’ve built before, I have always been directed to Mainland China, Southeast Asia or the USA as places that are easier to scale. Therefore, when I learnt that Hong Kong as a city is one of the largest Swiss Luxury watch import markets in the world, I realized that Hong Kong was the perfect launch pad for Wristcheck.
After meeting Sean and Austen, I realized we had very different and unique skill sets that were complementary to one another. In 2022, they were looking for an operating partner who could run a venture-backed company and build out the tech infrastructure – which just so happened to be exactly what I do, making us a great match. As the city began to open up in mid-2022 after 3 years of the COVID situation in Hong Kong, I was very ready to devote all my time to the next big build. We were off to the races - we quickly went ahead to close new funding and the rest was history.
There are many good ideas floating around but as an entrepreneur, you need to know if the stars are aligned to execute it. I was able to connect all the dots of this business opportunity, founding team and most importantly the understanding of how to build a great platform from all my previous experiences with Airbnb, WeWork, Carousell and GOAT. Finally, it also really helped that I, myself was getting into watches; my own watch journey was telling me that there is a gap in the market and we are uniquely positioned to create a great product for it.
You've had one hell of a career and have a lot to be proud of, but it's pretty rare that life turns out exactly the way you intend it to. Is there anything you thought you would have done by now but haven't done yet? Do you still have plans to make it happen?
Although I had a good run with great tech companies, I’ve always had to do it on the road - building in the mainland or other markets. Therefore, I have always wanted to build a homegrown startup for the global stage that I can be proud of. I feel very lucky to be in this position of building Wristcheck in Hong Kong where I can have the optimal balance of pursuing my passion and being with my family. I love what I do everyday.
Did you have a fictional character that you admired or looked up to as a child? Do they still impact you today?
I pretty much loved all Japanese anime since I was a kid - Dragon Ball Z, Naruto and One Piece. What I love about these shows is that they all share a common theme - the importance of trusting your team, work really really hard, and never giving up. In some way, I’d like to believe that it has somewhat shaped who I am today.