The making of an entrepreneur

A familiar name throughout HKUST, Prof Jack Lau, an Electronic and Computer Engineering alumnus, is HKUST’s first PhD graduate and founder of hi-tech company Perception Digital Holdings Limited. Here you can find out what lies behind Prof Lau’s success as an entrepreneur.

Editor: What are Perception Digital’s strengths?

Prof Lau: The company is a pioneer in technology solutions for digital sequel processing, turn-key consumer electronics, and holds more than 25 patent. Products include Waterproof TV, WiFi-connected photo frames, and the Golf Swing Analyzer.

Editor: Tell us how Perception Digital started.

Prof Lau: The company is the first and largest set up under the HKUST Entrepreneurship Program. This is a great program which helps people associated with HKUST – students, faculty, alumni – to turn their hi-tech ideas into businesses. Perception Digital started in 1999 and now has a staff of over 300. In 2009, it became the first HKUST-associated spin-off to gain a listing on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2011, we were able to transfer to the Main Board.

Editor: What drove you on to your accomplishments?

Prof Lau: You need to fan the flames of your interests. That’s where satisfaction comes from. I love music and sports, and try to integrate technology into lifestyle. The ideas for Fitness MP3 and WiFi waterproof TV were conceived in this way.

Editor: What are the essential qualities for an entrepreneur?

Prof Lau: Perseverance and the ability to meet and beat the unexpected. It was not a straight road when we started out. We had to find ways to resolve issues such as capital shortfall, research and prototyping bottlenecks. The biggest lesson is to be ready for whatever surprises come your way, and to learn from mistakes and use them to grow.

Editor: What are your personal objectives?

Prof Lau: My goal is not to be the richest or best-known businessman, just to be as good as I can be. That is reward enough. I also like to enable others to share the joy of learning. That’s why I set up a scholarship at HKUST for talented mainland students and launched www.pdjiaoyu.com , the first e-learning community tailored for primary and secondary school students in the mainland. I have seen how students are struggling to learn in less developed areas or under heavy pressure from exams. We want to use technology and innovation to address these issues.