Een groep van 16 UvA/VU/HvA-studenten bereidt een reis voor naar het land van de onbegrensde groeimogelijkheden: China!
Wekelijks schrijft een van hen een blog. Hieronder de blog van Leonard Wein.
From Feb 2nd to 3rd Penn Olson, an influential entrepreneurship blog in South-East Asia organized Startups in Asia, Singapore, a tech-startup conference featuring more than 70 promising young startups from the region. Big thanks to the team at Penn Olson, who gave me the opportunity to attend the conference on behalf of the 16 Student Entrepreneurs and the Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship to get some first-hand impressions of what is happening in Asia’s Startup scene.
Startups in Asia, Singapore was the first conference organized by Penn Olson, but is supposed to be only the starting point for a series of Startups in Asia conferences happening throughout Asia’s Entrepreneurship hubs (the next location is still to be determined, but stay posted; hopefully I’ll be able to provide you with news from Asia’s most buzzed startups next time as well). The goal of the conference is to provide a space from entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs to connect, get a stage to present themselves to potential investors (at the so-called ARENA, where 19 selected startups where pitching for a price of 10,000 SGD in cash).
Having been at several startup events in Europe, most recently Meet the Dragons in Rotterdam, I was very curious to see the local startup crowd.
Participants were from the entire SE region with a strong representation of local Singaporean and Japanese startups (interestingly all Japanese startups had obvious problems articulating ideas and understanding questions in English). What first impressed me was the pure amount of startups represented: 70 tech-startups, that’s very impressive. One of the big issues I see in Europe is the lack of tech & web startups, those startups that are per se more inclined to be high-growth startups, to have the potential to become the new Google or Facebook; those kind of ventures that made Silicon Valley the place it is. Here in Singapore and SE Asia, it is apparently not too difficult to find them. Silicon Valley and major international VCs seem to have realized this. So next to the impressive amount of startups, the number of investment companies and angel investors was equally impressive. Next to international investors, a rather long list of local angel investors attended the event, signaling the growing local investor’s ecosystem.
Before I go into commenting on some specific startups, let me share some further impressions of the event: One thing that strikes me about pitches back in Europe was that often, the founders seem to have little knowledge about their market, the numbers and often even their specific business model. Basic considerations (see Sequoia business plan guidelines) that are so vital to any successful startup and that seem so trivial to anyone interested in developing a business are often lacking. Unfortunately many of the startups at Startups in Asia were not any different and had great problems explaining their business model, market potential and differentiating factors to the jury. Serving the stereotype of the engineer-entrepreneur, several founders I spoke to had in general problems communicating the idea behind their startup. The problem basically is that the general audience is not interested in the technical details behind a venture, but in the story that evokes excitement and interest and shows that the founders have understood the market and are eager to conquer it. I would argue that European founders are better at presenting and selling their ideas convincingly – probably by sacrificing some of the technological depths that these Asian startups have.
By now you’re probably wondering: So what’s going to be the next big thing? Now of course, I don’t have the answer for this, but I’ll share the general trends with you and over the course of next week will also present some of the promising companies with a little review for you.
The general trend observable at Startups in Asia was definitely towards social, (local,) mobile services (in jargon: So(Lo)Mo), that is services that combine social online interaction, with mobile applications and often a strong local, spatial focus. But as Joanna Yeo from e27 noted, this is an increasingly jammed and thus competitve market with low entry barriers, making it hard for these startups to actually establish themsevles and build a user and customer base. Further trends were educational platforms (all motivated by the dominance and frustration of BlackBoard – the system most students worldwide have to endure currently), and 3D-visualization platforms (that allow to create virtual galleries, book shops, model entire islands or apartments for interior designers).
Overall the event was very insightful. Especially the diversity and creativity of some companies impressed me. We can definitely be excited about what’s coming from Asia in the coming years.
This is why we go to China. This is why we are so excited about actually experiencing the vibe of Chinese entrepreneurs.
After a very successful study trip to the United States to discover the entrepreneurial drive of the Americans, the Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship and 1&12 Ventures are thrilled to announce that a new group of 16 Student Entrepreneurs has started to prepare for a study trip in 2012, this time the destination will be CHINA!
China has emerged as an economic super power, forcing all players to consider new economic models. The growing significance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in China’s economy is hard to ignore. So with the 16 of us we`ll discover what is going on in mighty China! www.the16studententrepreneurs.nl
Every week a blog of one of the 16 student entrepreneurs about the preparation of the trip will be published. This week it’s Leonard Wein’s blog.