Recently, the number of startups in Southeast Asia is rapidly increasing, together with the capital power of big firms from the US and East Asian countries: Japan, China, Korea. The space is hot day after day. I quickly interview the local startup insiders to get their thoughts. They are three founders of tech startup community sites in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand to grasp a startup landscape in these countries.
They are (left to right) Nguyen Viet Dung (Dung) Founder/Chief Editor TechDaily.vn, Rama Mamuaya Founder/CEO of DailySocial.net (Indonesia), Christian Walter Co-founder BangkokStartup.com
Do you have any statistics about startups in your country?
Rama: Not really. No one does 🙁
Dung: I don’t have official statistics.
Christian: Personally, I have no statistics. [quote]DTAC (one of the biggest telcos) however estimated that there are about 2000 startups in Thailand. Bangkok is obviously where all comes together, but you have a very creative community in Chiang Mai and around Universities.[/quote]
Some hot trends in startup space?
Rama: [quote]Travel and payment is definitely one of the most popular these days in Indonesia.[/quote]
Dung: After a long period of putting high priority on consumer goods, electronic products now many startups in Vietnam are moving to intangible products and services. There are some players such as crowd funding site iG9, travel site Triip.me, MyTour.vn, iVivu.com; or content site Haivl.com, cab.vn
Christian: Hot trends…puh. We used to have lot loyalty apps, but that has faded a bit even though Stamp made it to Echelon. [quote]I think that payment and shopping solutions will be quite big. Selling through Facebook is such a big deal here and the shops needs help to deal with these kinds of interactions and payments. That’s a big deal and needs to be fixed. Not everybody has credit cards in Thailand. If you can fix that problem e-commerce will explode.[/quote]
@MinhBui: yes I know at least 10 travel startups in Indonesia. And Thailand is a shopping heaven. Thai love shopping.
What are your country startups’ strengths and weaknesses?
- Strength: resilient. They will do anything to keep their company afloat, typical hustler.
[quote]Weakness: most of them are young, first-time entrepreneurs. So, very little experience.[/quote]
- Weaknesses: I think generally they are lacking of capability to master non-tech factors, especially management and finance. [quote]Most of Vietnam startups don’t have a good customer-oriented mind so many products are copy-cat or inspired by international products but they are not well-customized to adapt with the local market.[/quote]
- Strengths: Passionate, self confident 🙂 Sometimes they can ignore all financial preparations, personal developments, the pressures from society just to follow their startups. Many of them are open-minded, ready to change, and most of them have a business-motto of “don’t be evil”.
Christian: Strength and weaknesses differ from Startup to Startup, I think generally a bit more knowledge about Business Models and how to pitch in an engaging way couldn’t hurt. Maybe there is a problem of vision. World domination fantasies are something you rarely see here.
[quote]Strength again differs; I think design – if you can find a designer to join your team – is something startups do very well here. When I went to the dtac accelerate pitch only one app looked a bit so so, the rest was so pretty.[/quote]
What are their most difficult things to overcome?
Rama: Business model. Indonesia’s Internet market is still very hard to monetize.
Dung: defining the purpose of doing startups
Christian: [quote]I think to get early seed funding is very difficult.[/quote] There are so many potential angel investors here that have so much money to spend, but they don’t have a clue about the Startup community or tech startups, however you want to phrase it. And then you have the other side, where knowledge about when to get funding is actually missing, and how to attract it.
How about the trend in next 03 years?
Rama: [quote]in 3 years, I think the e-commerce business is going upwards, dragging the whole Internet industry along. Good times![/quote]
Dung: I think three years are too long to provide such a prediction in Vietnam ICT startups. [quote]This period also helps to create a new generation of entrepreneurs gained enough knowledge, experience, power and ability to attract funding and talents from other regional and global market to Vietnam to strengthen for the next level of startup revolution.[/quote]
Christian: Anyhow, just to give you my idea about the next 3 year trends.
- One will be bringing solutions from more developed countries into the country, either by companies expanding (like currently Uber, Easy Taxi) or by founders picking up ideas from the west other countries.
- [quote]I expect the Japanese to get in big here. Thailand and Japan have always been tight. We can already see that Japan is interested, several Japanese speakers at Echelon Ignite..[/quote]
- In general growth, but it will depend a bit on how stable the country will be politically. I think we will see some things in the education sector/ social ventures, just because Thailand has such a bad education system and it’s one of the main pain points.
And you, do you agree with them?