Hongkonger Adam Lau was living in halls of residence at the City University of Hong Kong while studying a marketing degree when he suddenly became inspired. “My roommate gave me two big boxes of loose change on the day he finished his exchange program,” he says.
Lau compared coin kiosks models overseas and those in Hong Kong — “I found that the coins exchange methods here are not convenient enough for the public. Therefore, the idea of converting coins into digital money and returning stored coins into circulation came to my mind.”
And that’s exactly what Heycoins does: a kiosk network that collects loose change from everyday users and converts them into digital currency. After conversion, money can be used for a variety of purposes — e-wallets, Octopus card top-ups, e-cash coupons, as well as charitable donations.
Lau admits it’s hard to balance work and his studies, and has taken a year out from his degree to develop Heycoins. But still, it’s not his first time in the workforce. Before Heycoins — the idea of which began developing back in 2012 — he worked at babycare products company Baby Kingdom, where he was in charge of marketing, business developments and new shop location selections; he also opened a sub-company for the firm in Shanghai. After that, he became chief business development officer of darts machine company RainbowDarts, based out of China’s southwestern region.
“Whether or not it becomes a success, my team is the thing I am most proud of.”
The team faced plenty of challenges, Lau says — like tracking down a technician to make the product, and finding merchants willing to partner up. But it’s all paid off, because since the company’s launch in 2016, Lau and his team have raised over $5 million as seed round investment.
“It wasn’t easy to arrive at this stage, and I don’t think I could have succeeded without my team,” he says. “Whether or not it becomes a success, my team is the thing I am most proud of.”
His motivation? “We’ve received positive feedback and encouragement. Our users’ appreciation is the greatest motivation for us to keep improving ourselves.”
His role model? “Howard Ling, who is a chief consultant at the Social Enterprise Business Centre (SEBC) of Hong Kong. He reminded me that bringing social impact to the public is more essential than earning profits when running a business.”