Billionaire Li Ka-Shing has just revealed the type of startups he wants to invest in

Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-Shing is looking into the future.

Li may be 88 years old, but it seems like his vigour when it comes to entrepreneurship and business is still the same as when he started his first company, Cheung Kong Industries which manufactured plastics, when he was 22.

He has since expanded his business not only vertically, but horizontally, and his business empire is now said to "cover almost every facet of life in Hong Kong, from electricity to telecommunications, from real estate to retail, from shipping to the Internet".

His reach doesn't simply cover his home, Hong Kong, as his various businesses and acquired companies are found in many countries worldwide. (You can check out Bloomberg's nifty infographics on him here.)

While Jack Ma and Wang Jianlin are at the top of ranks for richest Asians, Li's US$27 billion (S$37.1 billion), as of June 2016, isn't shabby either.

Top 10 richest in China and Hong Kong: Hurun

  • 1) Wang Jianlin, 61, overtook Li Ka-shing to be crowned the richest Chinese in the world with a fortune of US$42.6 billion, driven mainly by the recent listings of his real estate and cinema businesses.
  • 2) Li Ka-shing, 87, came second with a fortune of US$32.8 billion. With the bulk of his wealth made in real estate, Li has recently been investing heavily into the UK. Li is currently organizing his succession with his two sons Victor and Richard.
  • 3) Jack Ma, 51, was third with US$27 billion. One of the most active entrepreneurs in China, Ma also made time to be the number one philanthropist in China last year.
  • 4) Li Hejun, 48, sits in fourth place, based on the value of his stock at 20 May, when it stopped trading after an investigation launched by the HK regulatory authorities.
  • 5) Lee Shau Kee, 87, is also in fourth place. Lee has appointed his younger son Martin to chairman of Henderson Land, and is expected to let his elder son Peter take over the Herd Group and gas company.
  • 6) Pony Ma Huateng, 44, is sixth. Ma has become one of the world’s most active venture capitals, along with Jack Ma of Alibaba. WeChat continues to grow its market share.
  • 7) Zong Qinghou, 70, & family of Wahaha group.
  • 8) Robert Kuok, 92, is eighth with a fortune of US$16.4 billion. Kuok’s ancestral home is in Fujian, he was born in Malaysia and lives in HK today. Kuok’s business ranges from sugarcane, to mining, finance and hotels.
  • 9) Cheng Yu-tung, 90, is also in eighth place. Cheng was born in Shunde of Guangdong. He is famous for the adventurous investment style, being seen as one of the “Hong Kong Big Four Real Estate Magnates” and “King of Jewelry”.
  • 10) Robin Li Yanhong & Melissa Ma Dongmin are tenth. 50% of Baidu’s revenues now come from mobile.

Li Ka-Shing, the "on-point" investor

The school drop out (he had to leave school to start working before turning 15 due to his father's death) is no stranger to investments, and has famously invested in almost 60 early and mid-stage startups via Li's Horizons Ventures, which has a focus on disruptive and tech-based startups.

Some of his more famous (and successful) investments include Facebook, Spotify, Airbnb, Waze and even Siri, which was eventually acquired by Apple in 2010.

Therefore, it's no surprise that Li has recently been reported to be looking to invest into startups involved in AI and 3D printing - both of which are fast-rising 'norms' that disruption and the rapid progression of technology have brought about.

In an interview with Bloomberg, director of Li's charity Li Ka Shing Foundation and finance director of CK Hutchinson Frank Sixt mentioned that apart from these, Li is "also keen on startups involved in artificial intelligence, big data and high-tech food such as the meatless 'Impossible Burger'."

Said Sixt, who was very much channeling his boss' philosophy at the same time, "Trying to understand what investments have the potential to be very disruptive, but also in a very good way, to sort of transform the way we all live our lives in the future is a big theme in choosing investments."

Li Ka-shing's tips on how to make more money

  • Having trouble envisioning yourself with your own home and a car in the near future? The richest man in Asia, Li Ka-shing, has some tips for you.
  • Lee suggests that wage-earners put their monthly salary proportionately into five sets of funds with different purposes.
  • The first fund with 30% of your salary, second with 20%, third with 15%, fourth with 10%, and fifth with 25%.
  • The first set of funds is used for living expenses. It's a simple way of living and you can only be assigned to less than twenty dollars a day. A daily breakfast of vermicelli, an egg and a cup of milk.
  • When you are young, the body will not have too many problems for a few years with this way of living, he says.
  • This will make you well off. Your phone bills can be budgeted at RMB 100. You can buy your friends 2 lunches a month, each at $150.
  • Who should you buy lunch for? Always remember to buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable than you, richer than you or people who have helped you in your career. Make sure you do that every month.
  • After one year, your circle of friends should have generated tremendous value for you. Your reputation, influence, added value will be clearly recognised. You'll also enhance your image of being good and generous.
  • Monthly spend about RMB 50 to RMB 100 to buy books. Because you don't have a lot of money, you should pay attention to learning. When you buy the books, read them carefully and learn the lessons and strategies that is being taught in the book. Each book, after reading them, put them into your own language to tell the stories.Sharing with others can improve your credibility and enhance the affinity.
  • Also save up $200 per month to attend a training course. When you have higher income or additional savings, try to participate in more advanced training. When you participate in good training, not only do you learn good knowledge, you also get to meet like-minded friends who are not easy to come by.
  • Reward yourself by traveling at least once a year. Continue to grow from the experience of life. Stay in youth hostels to save cost.
  • In a few years you would have travelled to many countries and have different experiences. Use that experience to recharge yourself so that you'll continually have passion in your work.
  • Save the $500 in your bank and grow it as your initial startup capital. The capital can then be used to do a small business. Small business is safe. Go to wholesalers and look for products to sell. Even if you lose money, you will not lose too much money.
  • However, when you start earning money, it will boost your confidence and courage and have a whole new learning experience of running a small business.
  • Earn more and you can then begin to buy long-term investment plans and get long-term security on your financial wealth being of yourself and your families. So that no matter what happens, there will be adequate funds and the quality of life will not decline.
  • Well, after struggling for a year and if your second year salary is still RMB 2,000, then that means you have not grown as a person. You should be really ashamed of yourself. Do yourself a favour and go to the supermarket and buy the hardest tofu. Take it and smash it on your head because you deserve that.
  • Doing sales is challenging, but it is the fastest way for you to acquire the art of selling and this is a very deep skill that you will be able to carry it for the rest of your career.
  • No matter how much you earn, always remember to divide it into five parts proportionately. Always make yourself useful. Increase your investment in networking. When you increase your social investment, expand your network of contacts, your income also grows proportionately.
  • Increase your investment in learning, strengthen your self confidence, increase investment in holidays, expand your horizons and increase investment in the future, and that will ultimately increase your income.
  • Soon, you will be able to gradually realise your various dreams, the need to buy your own house, car, and to prepare an adequate education fund for your child's future.
  • Life can be designed. Career can be planned. Happiness can be prepared. You should start planning now. When you are poor, spend less time at home and more time outside. When you are rich, stay at home more and less outside. This is the art of living.
  • There is nothing wrong with being young. You do not need to be afraid of being poor. You need to know how to invest in yourself and increase your wisdom and stature. You need to know what is important in life and what is worth investing in.
  • You also need to know what you should avoid and not spend your money on. This is the essence of discipline. Try to avoid spending money on clothing, but buy a selective number of items that have class.
  • Once your livelihood is no longer an issue, use the remainder of your money to pursue your dreams. Spread your wings and dare to dream! Make sure you live an extraordinary life!
  • Everybody makes mistakes. It's what you learn from the mistakes, and promising yourself not to repeat those mistakes that matters. When you miss opportunities, don't dwell on it, as there are always new opportunities on the horizon.

Startups, you might want to start impressing Li

What does this mean for startups, then?

Seeing Li's impressive track record in investments and his eye for picking out potential successes, startups already in these industries, or those looking to pivot might want to follow his train of thought, because who knows, Li might take a liking to your startup and invest in it!

According to another Bloomberg article, Li's success comes not only in mere luck, but an impeccable sense when it comes to timing, and "a Warren Buffett-like side to Li that keeps his businesses slow and steady, while mostly continuing to grow".

As Joe Studwell, author of books "Asian Godfathers" and "How Asia Works" adds: "When he buys, you can be sure that something is cheap. And when he sells, you can be sure it is fully valued."

We're reminded time and time again (especially in the face of disruption and the rise of redundancies) where the future industries lie, and with Li's indirect endorsement of them, it is probably a good idea to hop on board that bandwagon as well.

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