Alex So is a co-founder of FastLane Group, a tech-savvy professional accounting firm that serves the startup community. He is passionate about providing the best accounting and corporate advice and simplifying his clients’ accounting and management information process.
Being a fellow member of CPA Australia himself, Alex brings with him over 20 years of professional accounting, consulting and investment experiences gained from financial services and asset management industry. He held CFO roles in various financial institutions, private equity businesses and listed companies in the region.
1. What is your startup?
FastLane Group provides cloud-based accounting solutions to meet the needs of startups and fast-growing companies. The problem that we would like to solve is, in many cases, the predominant professional accounting firms are focusing on startups until they are big enough to afford the heavy price tag or they have developed a proven business model and achieved good financial results. We understand the challenges and dynamics facing by the startups and want to help them through the growing pain.
Unlike traditional accounting firms which deal with physical documents, paper filing, and year-end compliance, we use Xero, one of the world’s most advanced cloud-based accounting software and other cloud-based solution, to help startups streamlining their processes, better managing and understanding their financials and getting ready for the statutory and investor reporting.
We also see there is an amazing ecosystem for the cloud software or SaaS that integrates well with each other which allows companies to manage various aspects of the businesses from inventory management, invoicing, CRM to job systems. Our objective is to help our clients to leverage cloud technology and navigate in the cloud ecosystem.
In addition, we are providing advisory services to startups and introducing them to capital sources and assisting them in financial modeling, term sheet review and deal structuring. Most recently, we have assisted in one of the startups for their fundraising effort and subsequently, we become one of their angel investors as we believe so much about their story. We would like to be more active in the angel investing space.
2. How did you come up with this idea?
We believe business and technology are converging and transforming fast in the current market. Competing effectively will require every company and industry to run smartly and efficiently and this also applies to the accounting professionals. We disrupt the accounting services delivery model by empowering our clients with information on the hand any time any where and we are much closer to our clients to address their needs. We are not just preparing financial statements but offering solutions and insights with facts and numbers that help companies to make better decisions. This is the future of the accounting profession. Cloud software is one of the key enablers and unfortunately not a lot of accountants out there embracing what technology has to offer.
3. Who are you targeting and how big is the market in HK/Asia?
There has been strong growth in the startup space in Hong Kong and Asia in the last 2 years buoyed by favorable capital raising activities and growing public attention. Hong Kong has always been the hub of the financial center and we are seeing more accelerators and the like coming into Asia to source early-stage investments. From the public side, Hong Kong Cyberport has just recently announced its latest three-year strategic plan with a further investment of HK$200 million to expand its support for the ICT startups over the years 2014 to 2017. It has granted over 100 projects funding through the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund (CCMF) and admits over 200 start-ups under the Cyberport Incubation Programme. The latest Startmeup HK Venture Conference also records overwhelming turnout rates. The growing numbers of co-working space communities, angel investors and venture capitalists have fostered good networking opportunities and facilitate startups’ access to financial, intellectual and social capital.
4. What are your future plans for your startup?
We grow with our clients. We will continue to embrace technology that helps us to better serve our clients. We would like their trusted CFOs and angels that offer them advice which is critical to accelerating their growth.
5. One Benefit and One Challenge in the HK startup scene?
The HK startup ecosystem is taking shape. There are many more resources and attention dedicated to startups and entrepreneurs. The setup cost is low and more people are willing to take the risk and become their own bosses. Forming a team or looking for a co-founder is far easier than ever.
However, Hong Kong is a relatively small market so it is challenging to see how a Hong Kong-based startup can think big and expand to other markets once it has established its presence in Hong Kong.
This article was first published in StartupsHK and is reproduced with permission. Original article can be found at http://www.startupshk.com/5-questions-with-alex-so-founder-of-fastlanepro/