Are you an entrepreneur? Or secretly building your startup and soon to be the next entrepreneur? When considering where to startup, you might want to consider Silicon Valley. Building a new startup in Silicon Valley certainly is the golden path every aspiring entrepreneur take; however, the Valley also isn’t the only place for every tech startup.
Let’s be honest. Silicon Valley has become extremely noisy and hyper competitive, which is making it increasingly difficult to break your company away from the others. You might be thinking: “Okay, So where on earth should I launch my startup?” Well that is the million dollar question, isn’t it?
And the answer is・・・ *Drum roll*
One part of the world that you should launch your startup is SOUTHEAST ASIA. How do I know this? and how can I allow myself to say that? Because I have done tons of research myself.
Southeast Asia is becoming one of the booming startup hub to start a new company today. The network here and the opportunity in Southeast Asia has grown exponentially in the past few years alone. Just to give aspiring entrepreneurs a glimpse of the region’s inherent advantages, I’ve laid out the top five reasons you should consider moving your startup to Bangkok.
So for this important topic, I had to bring in help from some of the best founders and entrepreneurs in their respected fields. As you probably have guessed from the headline, 21 entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia will share their wisdom with you. I asked them the following question:
Why entrepreneur should launch startup in Southeast Asia?
Note: this is definitely one of the best collections of entrepreneur startup tips out there in Southeast Asia. When you see the contributors on this post, you will understand why.
If you don`t agree, send me an email and I will lash myself with a wet noodle. This post is over 4,000 words and you should bookmark this page for future reference.
So, let’s look at what makes Southeast Asia so attractive for entrepreneurs today. If I were to give a proper introduction of all of the entrepreneurs with all of their merits, the list of their achievements alone would surpass 4,000 words by far.
I would definitely advise you to check out every single one of the entrepreneurs. Without further ado, here are the entrepreneurs…
Name list here…
Martin Toft Sorensen | Christian Mischler | Yod Chinsupakul | Michael Cluzel | Djoann Fal | Andrew Henderson | Harprem Doowa | Tim Russell | Juliette Gimenez | Pol Chattharakul | Jorge Jimenez | Matt Mayer | Jun Hasegawa | Natt Kawinrachataprida | Natasha Stewart | Giff Pochara | Jason Ho | Nicolas Rahme | Anna Vanessa Haotanto | Mark Laothavornwong | Surawat Promyotin |
Martin Toft Sorensen MD and C0-founder at WearYouWant
SEA is still blue ocean, the startup eco-system has matured and funds are there to be raised. It’s a perfect 3-in-1 combo!
Fast growing economies, a population of 600 million, strong interest from both regional and foreign VC’s and governments finally starting to nurse startups, what’s not to like?
What is WearYouWant?
WearYouWant was founded in 2011, has placed itself amongst the leading online marketplaces for fashion in Thailand. Sourcing products from more than 200 physical fashion and beauty retailers and distributors around the greater Bangkok area, WearYouWant assembles a unique collection of approximately 15000 items of apparel, accessories, skincare, haircare and makeup.
Christian Mischler Co-founder of HotelQuickly
Southeast Asia is a booming part of the world; with an incredibly high pace of development the region is catching up quickly with the developed economies of the world. There is more and more disposable income available, the middle-class is rising, and people are ever-connected (virtually and physically).
For entrepreneurs this is a rewarding situation and many businesses can successfully be established that serve the future demand of the massive population in this geography.
What is HotelQuickly?
HotelQuickly promotes spontaneous travel by being the most dependable part of it. Their technology helps people travel better. This brand inspires people to have fun and just go! HotelQuickly enriches and enhances South East Asia by providing the highest hotel standards at the best prices.
Yod Chinsupakul CEO and Co-founder of Wongnai
First of all, Thailand and SEA is a great place to live. There are a lot of talents especially in marketing, sales and design. Though diverse, the market is big enough, combined and individually.
There are 600 million people in the region including 60 million in Thailand, 100 million in Vietnam, 200 million plus in Indonesia. There are less competitions compared to more established markets. And finally, the people here adopt things very quickly! What not to like!
What is Wongnai?
Wongnai was established in 2010. It is now the N.1 restaurant review application in Thailand with over 600,000 registered members. Wongnai currently can be found at Wongnai app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry. For those of who wonder the meaning of the word “Wongnai” is a Thai word means “insider”.
Michael Cluzel Group CEO and Co-founder of Eatigo
My 2 cents on why SEA is a good location for an entrepreneur to launch a new platform, service, or comapny with its 600+ million population is a significant market, size-wise, with solid macro level context (good purchase power, good mobile internet penetration, young population, high degree of social upward mobility, consumer orientation) and a fast developing startup ecosystem with several countries leading the way on new legislation to facilitate creation of start-ups.
The most exciting part is the relatively low level of competition and penetration of e-commerce which allows for fantastic prospects on growth rates.
What is Eatigo?
If you love food and restaurants, you will love Eatigo. Eatigo operates in the food and beverage e-commerce arena and is focused on markets in Southeast Asia. Privately funded and based on proprietary technology, eatigo is revolutionizing how people across Asia look at dining out.
Djoann Fal CEO and Co-founder of GetLinks
South East Asia see emergence of a middle class with world class buying power & mobile-social media saavy that will become one of the top 5 Global Internet consumer market by 2020.
What is GetLinks?
GetLinks is a Curated TECH hiring marketplace for Asia, operating now in three countries, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. They aim to help the 25M tech talents in Asia to find their dream jobs in top tech companies and startups.
Andrew Henderson Managing Partner of Nomad Capitalist
It’s nice to see people making investments and committing themselves to businesses of all sorts, not just the tech sector that helps drive entrepreneurship in the United States. For people here in southeast Asia, both developed like in Singapore and developing like much of the region, the feeling that you can succeed simply with a little cash and a little foresight if everywhere.If you’re still fighting to start just the right business in your home country, I highly suggest you investigate opportunities here.
It was quoted from his original article.
What is Nomad Capitalist?
Nomad Capitalist offer offshore Strategies from real people. Nomad Capitalist can help you find the best countries in the world to bank, do business, invest, and become a citizen.
Harprem Doowa MD and CO-founder at Frank.co.th
My opinion is that launching your startup here gives you the opportunity to see silicon valley 10 years in the past. All the changes, regulations, startups, and culture that silicon is experiencing now is what we will be experiencing 10 years from now. Other than that, there is also the opportunity of 1 billion customers available within a close proximity. It is also dirt cheap for entrepreneurs with funds from the US as the exchange rate and purchasing power really does work in their favour.
What is Frank.co.th?
Frank.co.th is part of EdirectInsure Group which operates leading online insurance platforms in Asia with offices in Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan, offering motor insurance to the consumers in Asia at the price they can afford, in a language they can understand.
Frank.co.th was born in 2016 with the aim to provide people an alternative by buying insurance direct versus through brokers and agents. Theirr ambition is to be the best motor insurer as measured by their customers and employees.
Tim Russell Founder and CEO at Tineri
Southeast Asia is a great region for launching a startup! The low cost of living makes it an affordable base for new, bootstrapping startups, and there is a large pool of affordable development talent to choose from, particularly in Vietnam. There’s a large and rapidly growing ecosystem of investors, accelerators and networking groups. And the rate of economic growth in the region means it is attracting a lot of investor attention.
From a personal point of view, as a travel tech startup it makes perfect sense for us to be here given that SE Asia’s travel industry, both inbound and outbound, is the fastest-growing in the world.
What is Tineri?
Tineri is a brand new solution that allows tour operators and travel agents to provide their clients with a stylish, engaging and user-friendly mobile itinerary app that turns static itineraries into living, breathing, interactive travel experiences! Tineri launches in Beta mode in August 2016.
Juliette Gimenez Co-founder and CEO at Goxip
Southeast Asia is definitely a market that cannot be neglected with the first reason being the continuously rising mobile penetration in the area. Technology has developed so rapidly that we are able to lower the cost of production of a smartphone dramatically to be more and more affordable for people from emerging countries to acquire. The cheap smartphones open their eyes up by giving them their first opportunity to access to Internet instead of owning an expensive PC and they realise there is so much they can do with it. This gives entrepreneurs or startups a great opportunity to introduce their ideas and products to the population through their new mobile devices and give them the experience that they never had before.
Secondly, people in Southeast Asia tends to be very social media centric. Their new smartphones allow them to go onto Facebook or other social media platforms for the first time where they got access to a vast amount of information like never before. They are very active in interacting on the platforms which makes a easier job for startups to engage with them socially through running campaigns to acquire users, brand building or retain users.
Last but not least, the labour and cost of living is cheap in the Southeast Asia region so it helps with the expenses of a startup since they usually began with very little capital money. So overall, given the huge mobile penetration, the social nature of the population and the low workforce or living expense, we see there will be a lot more startups trying to enter this area to capture this fast growing economy of Southeast Asia.
What is Goxip?
Goxip is the fashion discovery platform. You can browse celebrity and community content for the latest fashion ideas from around the world. Whatever inspires you, whether it’s from the catwalk in Paris, magazines or something you see in the street – Goxip helps you discover or find that piece of fashion you cannot live without. Discover trends, find inspiration and share you own styles. Goxip has been built as a mobile-first platform for fashion-conscious, dynamic consumers who stay trendy on the go.
Pol Chattharakul Founder of PoolSub Space
Thai Market is very unique but sometimes difficult. Thai people still needs everything easy to use and solve their laziness which is a good point to do startup. There are tons of problem and need for all startup to solve with their products, such as food or logistic (Line Messenger seems to be alright here but their fare is still expensive), personal logistics such as taxi, even UBER and Grab still have hard time in here cause it’s not appropriate enough for Thai ‘s expectation, Marketplace (Lazada have a lot of one time users due to their poor quality in delivery and standardize of things, most people get unacceptable products ‘ quality), Matching (If you can do matching like single speed dating there is a big market, or business matching).
If you can start your startup successfully in anywhere in Southeast Asia, you will easily expand to other countries in SEA. So it will be a huge marketplace because modern Thai culture is very influencial towards all SEAS countries. Every Indo-China ‘s Country can watch thai TV and they love to watch.
The idea is that if you can survive in the hardest market that means you can success in every markets.
What is PoolSub Space?
It is the first service office and coworking space in Charoen Nakorn Rd, opposite side of the river from Bangrak. PoolSub Space opened the co-working space zone in the early of February 2016. Next year, they have a plan to create Meeting Hall on the 3rd floor, which included meeting room, workshop space, and event space.
Jorge Jimenez Founder of TopFunded
The idea of growing a business in an emerging region that has a huge population of young mobile first users with increasing disposable income sounds exciting. However, there are local challenges that entrepreneurs must be prepared to deal with and a knowledgeable local team that understands each countries consumer shopping behavior, cultural differences, and regulations is needed.
What is TopFunded?
TopFunded is a tech investment research blog covering startups, venture capital, mobile and ecommerce insights in Southeast Asia.
Matt Mayer Founder of ReignDesign
Two main reasons.
First, the cost of living in most South East Asia countries is lower than in Europe, the United States or big cities in China. As a startup founder, that means you can afford to have a longer runway to test and verify your ideas.
Second, countries like Thailand and Indonesia are great test markets: they are large enough that there’s a big group of young, tech-savvy consumers who want to try new products, but smaller and less saturated than say the US or China where any business idea already has 20 startups competing in the same space.
What is ReignDesign?
Reign Design is a multicultural software design agency. They specialize in the design and development of mobile applications particularly for Android and iOS phones and tablets. Reign Design helps every kind of business from startups right up to the brand-name clients like Porsche, WeightWatchers and Standard Chartered.
Jun Hasegawa Founder and CEO of Omise
Why entrepreneur should launch startup in Southeast Asia? Southeast Asia is full of opportunities. The market is huge, there is high potential for growth and most importantly is that the market is still not saturated. A large part of the region is still working on the development of technology and the infrastructure. SEA is a very attractive region to tap into especially for businesses that involve with e-commerce.
What is Omise?
Omise believes in providing their clients with the best in class online payment gateway product and service this industry has to offer. In order for Omise to become the trusted partner with clients, they deserve nothing short of the latest technology and competitive rates. They aspire to innovate and develop new products that provide value, and make Omise the leading payment gateway solution in Asia.
Natt Kawinrachataprida from YSIS PR, YSIS Entertainment
I call myself an entrepreneur. I was mentored and built an import & export company at 17, opened a company with a partner to import & distribute Italian wines at 18, established a retail alcohol shop at 20, founded a PR agency at 22, and recently launched an entertainment brokerage at 27. The combination of ambitious talents, logistics, state of the art facilities, the continuously expanding startup communities, not to mention lifestyle, Southeast Asia has plenty to offer.
Thailand, in particular, gave me the life of opportunities. As SEA consists of many bustling westernized metropolitan cities, the advantages of starting up here is the opportunity to meet the best of people from all walks of life- those you wouldn’t normally meet in your environment in home country. The best thing is- if you launch something and you fail- it’s acceptable. I find that people accepts and move on quick! I found the networking aspect to be useful to facilitate business opportunities, but I would advise startup founders to start learning how to UTILIZE your network of contacts.
Connections is everything in Asia, so for any startup who has mastered the art of networking, it’ll be very useful for the hustle. So, why should entrepreneurs launch a startup in SEA? Why not! Nothing to lose but everything to gain!
What is YSIS PR?
YSIS PR is an integrated marketing communication agency founded in the 2013. Since then they have represented various clients in different industries throughout varieties of work. YSIS PR provides both offline and online marketing strategies to create brand awareness and call to action.
What is YSIS Entertainment?
YSIS Entertainment is an international celebrities, personalities and live production brokerage for Southeast Asia, and Southeast Asia to the rest of the world. The company and their celebrities will also be represented by Natt’s legal partner, Mr. Bastien Trelcat of Harvey Law Group.
Natasha Stewart CEO of MSNA Group
Entrepreneurs should launch startups in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand because Thailand offers an attractive and competitive package of tax incentives, imposes no foreign equity restrictions, granting easily the visas and work permits and waives restrictions on land ownership by foreign tech startups. If you are looking to do business in Thailand, you need to consider getting investment promotion from the BOI. You can read more about Thailand BOI on our website.
What is MSNA Group?
MSNA Group is an English speaking accounting company in Bangkok that provides the following services: Accounitng, Taxation, Audit, Payroll, Due diligence, Company registration, Foreign business. MSNA is the official bookkeeper for the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Giff Pochara Founder of Uyoda
Being Thai myself, for launching a startup I know the importance of bootstraping with local connection. I can find early stage funding easier here and cost of living is relatively cheaper than other Southeast Asian countries which can decrease your burn rate. I have to admit that regulation to support startup isn’t mature yet, but I believe a lot of enrollment will happen near future which endorse more early stage startup like mine. even though regulation around startup isn’t mature yet, I believe a lot of enrollment Besides, Thai law makes entrepreneurs easier to hire talented people from abroad.
What is Uyoda?
Uyoda is a mobile platform offering entrepreneurs personalized expert advice and guarantee in meeting their objectives. Uyoda’s mission is to make hiring an expert to help on a project extremely accessible, at the same time empowering skilled individuals to help others and generate income.
Jason Ho Founder and CEO of D8ii limited
Many people ask me this question and here are two points:
- SEA has tremendous growth potential. There are lots of niches and pockets of underdeveloped sectors as well as relatively low competition eg many people doing things either poorly or badly.
- Fixed costs and cost of rental living is much lower so it really is appealing for those wanting to launch a digital business or even a retail traditional one.
What is D8ii limited?
D8ii Limited specialises in offshore outsourcing for startups and SMES. D8ii provide interim CTO for startup by providing fin tech solutions on web and mobile platforms as well as a full range of cross border services. D8ii is also the leading offshore solution for NodeJS.
Nicolas Rahme Business Development Manager at Siam-Shipping
Southeast Asia became to be more attractive since few years because of the liberalisation of their economy. We can now focus on an open market with millions and millions potential customers. Southeast Asia provides us many reason of an ideal place to invest : cost of living, business location, entrepreneur networking opportunities, easy visa-free travel, free market economies, territorial tax policy and lifestyle.
What is Siam-Shipping?
Siam Shipping is a freight forwarder based in Bangkok,Thailand. They are always open to provide informations, advices and a personalized service to their partners by carefully managing every aspect of their needs.
With the many years of experience, Sea Fly Services is able to provide all the services required from a freight forwarder, including, but not limited to: Air and Sea freight, removal, relocation, packing services, custom Clearance.
Anna Vanessa Haotanto CEO and Founder of The New Savvy
Southeast Asia is great for business due to the recent increasing support from government and corporations, exciting business environment and a maturing young population.
What is The New Savvy?
The New Savvy is the definitive financial and career guide for women. The New Savvy aims to empower smart, modern and independent woman through meaningful content that are relevant, practical and interesting.
Women have different needs from men and can benefit from unique financial advice. 41% of women are intimidated by finance and do not invest. Information available can be complex, technical and often times, exasperating.
They simplify the process to save you time and efforts, by providing dedicated insights that are fast, fun and easy to understand. The New Savvy advocates greater awareness and healthier financial habits to women.
Mark Laothavornwong from CareerBolt
First, startup ecosystem in Thailand is booming insanely. Therefore it’s perfect timing for us entrepreneurs to ride on this wave. I used to live in San Fransico where I started my first startup. I found out that their startup ecosystem supported better, much better than here. And now that I’m lauching my second startup here in Thailand, I want to support this ecosystem. I truly believe people from Southeast Asia have entrepreneurial sprit just like the one in State. We have same vision and ambition to help anyone in the world from Southeast Asia.
So why entrepreneur should launch startup in Southeast is easy. I’m helping about a few thousand people a year. To leverage my business skill I have which is consulting firm, and if I launch startup here I can help more people which is my passion and dream.
Do you have passion and dream to help people? Come to Southeast Asia.
What is CareerBolt?
CareerBolt is a career Q&A and job portal for every professional worldwide. The site provides a platform for local communities, and career-related experts to share their experiences, and advice. Users will have a safe & professional place to ask any questions related to their career interests and will get answers from experienced knowledgeable users, including professional career coaches. our goal is for users to have useful know-how, insights, techniques, and tips that will help them achieve their ideal career.
Surawat Promyotin CEO and Co-founder at STYLHUNT
I have seven reasons why entrepreneurs should launch startup in Southeast Asia:
- Large, emerging (high-growth) markets.
- Opportunity to address problems that do not exist in more mature markets.
- Opportunity to address problems that do exist in other markets, but that require unique approaches due to emerging, mobile-first market behavior.
- Potential to create products that might scale to other emerging markets such as India, South America, Middle East, and Africa.
- Comparatively lower labor and startup costs vs more mature markets.
- Additional barriers to global competition: language, culture, policy, processes, logistics, market fragmentation.
- Great people, places, and food!
What is STYLHUNT?
Search for Online Shops You Can Trust In emerging markets, where online shopping predominantly takes place through Facebook and Instagram, STYLHUNT allows shoppers to find shops they can trust in just a few clicks. This use case is currently underserved by Google search because it is not optimized for social media content and does not return relevant search results that signal or factor in trustworthiness. We address this issue by aggregating thousands of merchants and allowing shoppers to quickly filter through them on the basis of style and trust.
If you are here, you have probably not read the whole list of advice from the entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia. I would strongly advise you to bookmark this page for future reference because these insights from entrepreneurs can help you decide where to launch your startup. I know that this post includes a truckload of insights and it may seem a bit overwhelming.
Relax and breathe. Let me ask you one thing. Are you still wondering where to launch startup? I don’t think so.
Here’s what to do next・・・
Leave a comment on where you are thinking of launching your startup and why. You can be as specific or vague as possible.
This article is a guest post from Taiki Beaufils, a Japanese social media junkie and the IT business developer of D8ii limited, a software development studio based in Bangkok.