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How Much to Invest in Technology as a Startup Without a Technical Founder (Hong Kong and Macau Edition)

As a startup founder in Hong Kong or Macau without a technical co-founder, deciding how much to invest in technology for your business can be a daunting task. On one hand, technology is the backbone of most modern startups. But on the other, it can also eat up a significant portion of your limited funding.

So how do you strike the right balance? Here are some tips to help you budget for technology as a non-technical founder in the Hong Kong and Macau startup ecosystems:

1. Prioritize your MVP

When starting out, focus on building a minimum viable product (MVP) that includes only your core features. Resist the urge to pack in every bell and whistle from the beginning. This will help you keep your initial technology costs down.

2. Understand the man-hour concept

Technology projects are typically billed by the number of man-hours required. This refers to the total time a developer or designer would need to complete a specific task or feature. Understanding this metric can help you better estimate and manage your technology budget.

For example, building a simple lead capture form may only take 10-20 man-hours, while a full customer portal could require 200+ man-hours. Factor in developer hourly rates in Hong Kong (typically HK$500-800/hr) or Macau (around MOP$400-600/hr) to get a sense of the potential costs.

3. Leverage no-code/low-code tools

There are an increasing number of no-code and low-code platforms that allow you to build web and mobile apps without deep technical expertise. Services like Bubble, Webflow, and Appian can be great cost-effective alternatives to custom development, at least in the early stages.

4. Outsource development strategically

If you do need custom software development, consider outsourcing to developers or agencies in Hong Kong, Macau, or even mainland China. Rates tend to be more affordable than in many Western markets. Just be sure to vet providers carefully.

5. Build in-house tech skills gradually

As your startup grows, you'll want to start building some in-house technical capabilities. But don't feel the need to hire a full-time CTO from day one. Consider starting with a part-time or freelance tech lead who can help guide your technology decisions.

6. Focus on the essentials

When budgeting, prioritize the must-have features and functions that are critical to your initial business model. Things like your website, customer relationship management (CRM) system, and payment processing can be essential, while more advanced capabilities may have to wait.

The exact technology budget for your startup will depend on your specific business model and growth plans. But by following these principles and understanding the man-hour concept, you can build the tech foundation you need without overspending in the early days.



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