As business director and co-founder of light emitting diodes (LED) design firm LEDARTIST, Gary Crestejo wants to see more “meaningful” lighting.After graduating from university in Canada, Crestejo worked for more than 10 years for multinational firms in Hong Kong in sales and marketing, and business development. Crestejo also helped his friends set up start-ups in food and beverage and logistics. He and his friend Teddy Lo set up LEDARTIST in 2005.
What led you and Lo to set up the business? We were classmates at La Salle Primary School. Our paths crossed again in the early 2000s when I came across his LED art projects in exhibitions. He wanted to work on LED art and design projects in Hong Kong, and I had an idea of developing a business model merging his art and design with commercial architecture. We are a good match – my business skills complement his artistic vision.
What is your role in the company? I develop business strategies, bring in sales leads, set the corporate direction and attend to administrative matters. I'm also involved in developing cross-divisional training programmes to equip mainland designers with LED technological know-how. Through this programme, we also help our lighting engineers develop design skills.
How do you balance artistic creativity and commercially viable lighting solutions for clients? I educate and update our designers on the needs of specific markets. It's almost like managing their expectations.
Funds are also allocated to support their participation in arts events, including ones organised by the Arts Development Council Hong Kong and the Burning Man Project in Nevada in the US. This is part of our research and development strategy, as the designers' ideas can often be applied to commercial projects and, as innovations, they command a premium.
What are the challenges of running the business? Market positioning and differentiation. By positioning ourselves as a lighting designer specialising in LED, we have taken the right step, as more companies are using it. [To attract and retain] design talents with advanced LED know-how, we have training and human resource management strategies to improve the skills of our staff and enhance job satisfaction.
From what areas of the operation do you derive the most satisfaction? I’m satisfied when I see that our projects are growing in scale and that we are working with an increasing number of high-profile clients. I am also glad that we are getting more international recognition.
What are your goals? There should be more “meaningful” light. The light on exterior walls of buildings should convey messages, such as forecasting the weather or giving stock market updates through changes in light intensity and colour.
What is your advice for young entrepreneurs? An accurate forecast of the future is essential. You will only understand today’s needs when you see the future. Innovation and effective marketing are also important.
Returned from Canada in the early 1990s and worked for multinational firms
Set up LEDARTIST with chief visual officer Teddy Lo in 2005
Elected as business affairs officer, Board of City Junior Chamber, in 2009, mainly responsible for organising the chamber's Innovative Entrepreneur Award