Hugo Cheuk: People Think Running and Managing Startups Is a Cakewalk! But in Reality, It Requires Extreme Hard Work to Reach the Top Notch.


Hugo Cheuk from viAct

Tell us about yourself?

I am the COO and Co-Founder of viAct. I am a building engineer with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. I have had 10+ years of experience in marketing strategy and brand development as a serial entrepreneur and community builder.

Before starting my AI journey at viAct, I had been the head of business development at Shiseido, HK where I was in charge of channel strategies and corporate partnership and have also owned a profitable engineering company.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

People think running and managing startups is a cakewalk! But in reality, it requires extreme hard work to reach the top notch.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur? How has that helped in making your entity unique?

My years of experience that gave me the understanding of the market, coupled with my team building expertise is what I believe makes me stand out. I have always been a firm believer that for an entity to grow successfully, the two prime aspects are: ‘the market’ and ‘the team’.

Firstly, without a proper understanding of the market, it is not possible for any startup to position their product. With my years of experience and market understanding, we tried to make our product a best market fit.  

At the times when other peers in the market were focusing on object-based detections, we at viAct focused on “scenario-based detections” for industrial settings that helped viAct obtain a unique preposition in the market.

For this we indulged ourselves in rigorous R&D to constantly improve our AI that can suit to the needs of different workplaces like Construction, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing and Mining.

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In fact, our R&D strength has been extensively recognized and by far we have 6+ research papers published in several journals of repute. Moreover, viAct has also been awarded with the prestigious Josef umdasch research prize.  

Moreover, taking in consideration the raising issues of data privacy; we at viAct offer clients to choose between various AI hosting facilitates including Cloud, On-Prem & Hybrid. Apart from these to make our AI more responsible many measures have been taken to make it GDPR Complaint.

Secondly, talking about the team, I truly believe that a dedicated team makes up a strong company.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, viAct has been recruiting talents from across the globe, creating the remote first culture. Currently, viAct has a strong global team of more than 40 sparkling jewels, and much of what viAct has achieved till date owes to its team.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

Constant communication with the team and constant market analysis to obtain data-driven decisions

Give us a bit of an insight into rationale behind the company?

The construction industry has always been criticized for its unsafe nature.

Several loopholes prevailed in the industry from low technological adaptation to ever-increasing safety and productivity gaps.

Looking into these challenges, we established viAct and started R&D in AI in 2016, with the vision of creating safer, efficient and sustainable workplaces.

Our prime focus was on building exclusive AI-powered video analytics modules for scenario-based, real-time, on-site as well as remote monitoring of construction safety and productivity in just minutes.

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However, after successful deployments in several construction sites across the globe, we are currently expanding our scenario-based AI video analytics solutions to the oil & gas industry, manufacturing industry and mining industry to mitigate the safety and productivity issues prevailing in these industries.

What big steps were taken in each sphere of your business that boosted the journey of your startup?

Throughout the 5+ years of our journey there were several big steps taken in order to boost our business. However, the ones that are worth mentioning here would be our Partnership Program, and Team building in multinational dimension.

viAct’s Partnership Program marks a significant initiative for worldwide expansion of our business from Asia.

Through this program we aim at taking our products and solutions to new markets like Singapore, Middle East, Malaysia, UK and Australia. In fact, recently, viAct has signed two significant partnership agreements one with Innocom Technologies Pte Ltd. (Innocom) and OMNIX International (OMNIX).

While the former shall help expand viAct’s solutions to Singapore & Malaysian market; the later shall help viAct step in to marketplace of GCC countries, especially Dubai & Saudi Arabia to boost safety and productivity in the AEC and oil & gas industry by fostering digitalization. 

Talking about team building in multinational dimension, as I mentioned above viAct have adopted remote first culture during COVID-19 and presently it has a strong global team that have enabled us to gather talents from worldwide, that has definitely helped boost our business significantly. 

What do you think would be those considerable steps that will help you to get there?

viAct is targeting the next round of fundraising which is expected to be carried out by the end of 2022.

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This will mushroom the brand to achieve the further R&D plans and help in making it a fast-growing AI company specialized to promote safety and productivity of critical jobsite sites. viAct therefore has a mission to become the Asia’s leading AI company with the aim to expand across world to make critical workplaces safer and productive places to work inside.

Tell us something about your recent achievements

I am delighted to announce that we have been selected in “Forbes Asia 100 to Watch 2022”; have been awarded with “World of Safety and Health Asia Award 2022 by WSHAsia” and have been featured in “KPMG Real Estate Innovation Overview 2022” for our exceptional scenario-based AI and its accuracy.

9. And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

I really hope that viAct soon becomes an industry leader for AI powered video analytics solution by expanding its horizons from Construction to other critical industries like mining, oil & gas, manufacturing etc.

And for myself, I hope to be an optimistic yet balanced leader with a farsighted vision of taking the company and employees together.

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