Serving the startup ecosystem with ownership management services
Andy Lee always knew that his calling was to support and mentor the next generation. He was able to turn this passion into a day job by co-founding Sprout. The company now provides two products: Sprout, which supports organisations to better manage equity, share options and digital assets, and Folium, which focuses on tracking and managing crypto tokens.
Leveraging 20+ years of experience to grow a business
While Andy started off as an investment banker, his career took him to many industries: from media and entertainment to gaming and even disruptive technology. He worked with some of the largest Silicon Valley players and was in Mainland China during the growth of Uber China. His experiences with different companies in different regions helped him develop a unique skill set; Andy became “the guy that people would call upon to run their businesses.”
Combining his passion for helping others with the deficiencies he saw in incumbent products, Sprout was created to go head-to-head with others in the market by providing a more nimble, adaptable and localised product, with an added consultation layer.
“We are a SaaS company that serves a lot of different startups,” says Andy. “Sprout enabled us to be part of the [startup] ecosystem. What we do is in the heart of many founders, especially as they get started and scale up. One of our core services is consultation – a unique offering in the market. Through consultations we try to get to the root of ownership management issues and share best practices for fundraising, which is very important to know about when scaling up. These consultations are often eye-opening for founders, and that’s exactly why we continue to be a really important part of their growth.”
The right ecosystem to put down roots
When Andy and his co-founder Tony Sun first set up Sprout, the entire operation was bootstrapped. But as they continued their journey, they realised the abundance of government support and incubation programmes available to them in Hong Kong. With both traditional and alternative fundraising opportunities at their disposal, the startup was finally able to expand at a speedy pace.
Despite a lot of changes in the business environment in the past three years, Andy believes that Hong Kong remains the right ecosystem for his business to be in. “It just has much better ingredients for success,” he says. “For starters, you are at the doorstep of the world’s second singular largest market.” As Mainland China continues to reopen, Sprout is preparing to leverage their proximity to this market and the advantages offered by the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) integration to bring their services to a larger audience.
Looking back, Andy recalled the early days of Sprout when his team faced the daunting task of convincing startup founders about the significance of gaining transparency and governance over their own financial and digital assets. At that time, many startups were sceptical about the value of such services. However, after establishing a firm foothold in Hong Kong’s thriving startup ecosystem, the tables have turned. Companies now approach Sprout with eagerness and an appreciation for the importance of ownership in asset management services. With a growing reputation for delivering effective solutions, Sprout is happy to be of service to these companies and help them thrive in a highly competitive startup landscape.
Advice to other entrepreneurs and startups
“You don’t need to be young to start a startup. Founders that are older have a higher chance of success as they have a larger set of skills and experiences. With maturity and wisdom, you can really focus on and grow activities which move the needle.”
– Andy Lee, CEO & Co-Founder for Sprout