Delphine Dultzin, OnTheList cofounder and CEO
Hong Kong Business Spotlight
Founded by French couple Delphine Dultzin and Diego Dultzin Lacoste in 2016, OnTheList pioneered the concept of members-only flash sales in Asia.
Spend a few days walking around Central, and it’s hard to miss OnTheList’s signature black shopping bag hanging from the arm of some immaculately dressed Hong Konger.
Both of OnTheList’s founders were working for French fashion brands in Hong Kong when they realized that labels had few eco-friendly ways to clear their past-season merchandise. Leveraging the couple’s knowledge of the premium and luxury fashion landscape, OnTheList partners directly with 300 brands or their official distributors to offer unsold inventory at deep discounts to thousands of registered OnTheList members. (Eighty percent of OnTheList’s customers are from Hong Kong, and 20 percent are foreigners living in Hong Kong, according to Dultzin.)
Under the flash sale model, sales only last a few days and quantities are limited, meaning that customers return over and over again to see what’s new on OnTheList’s website and showrooms. In Hong Kong, where shopping is considered something of a national pastime, the platform proved a roaring success, and since then OnTheList has expanded to Singapore, Taiwan, China, Australia and Malaysia.
Living and Investing in Hong Kong got in touch with OnTheList cofounder and CEO Delphine Dultzin to learn more about how she and her partner spotted an underexploited business opportunity and struck out on their own in Hong Kong.
Delphine Dultzin, OnTheList: I was automatically inspired by Hong Kong’s energy, which motivated me to start something of my own. Hong Kong is a melting pot of tradition and innovation, which made it seem like anything was possible and it gave me the motivation to create my dreams into reality.
I arrived in Hong Kong in 2015 working for French brands as an international sales person. Then, my husband Diego and I found a nice market — flash sales — that nobody was doing. This business model exists in Europe and in the US but was not in Hong Kong, and that is how we started.
“I was automatically inspired by Hong Kong’s energy, which motivated me to start something of my own. Hong Kong is a melting pot of tradition and innovation, which made it seem like anything was possible.”
— Delphine Dultzin, OnTheList
DD: Most of the brands’ APAC headquarters are stationed here, making it simple to communicate and coordinate with them. On top of that, Hong Kong is super easy in terms of admin to set up a company.
LAIHK: What resources for startups and entrepreneurs did you access in Hong Kong and how did they help your company’s growth?
DD: Reaching out to chambers of commerce and local communities to share what we are doing helps the company’s growth, as it is important to spread the word within communities.
LAIHK: COVID had an enormous impact on the retail sector this year. How did OnTheList adapt its business model to meet the challenges of the pandemic?
DD: We have adapted and transferred many of our flash sales to our online store to make it more accessible to join our flash sales and still shop the best deals. We are continuing to bring amazing brands and products to our online store to make shopping stress-free and still enjoyable without having to worry about leaving the house.
“My top tip for founders looking to start up in Hong Kong is to get connected with the local community. Don’t be afraid to try and reach out to everyone. “
DD: My top tip for founders looking to start up in Hong Kong is to get connected with the local community. Don’t be afraid to try and reach out to everyone.
DD: I love to explore different parts of Hong Kong and go on mini-adventures as there are so many hidden gems all over. I live in Mid-Levels and during the weekends I love to escape to Lantau or New Territories for hiking. And the restaurant landscape in Hong Kong is amazing.