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Business  10, Jun 2014

Echelon 2014: SEA conducive to startup culture, say experts


The panel was unanimous about the region’s rising opportunities, with a large number of emerging startups and investors keen to invest at multiple stages

On the panel: (L-R) Akshay Garg – Co-Founder, Komli Media; Steven Goh – Co-Founder & CEO, mig33; Edgar Hardless – CEO, SingTel Innov8; Peng Tsin Ong – Partner, Monk’s Hill Ventures; Alex Lin – Head, Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd; & Vincent Lauria (Moderator) – Managing Partner, Golden Gate Ventures

On the panel: (L-R) Akshay Garg – Co-founder, Komli Media; Steven Goh – Co-founder & CEO, mig33; Edgar Hardless – CEO, SingTel Innov8; Peng Tsin Ong – Partner, Monk’s Hill Ventures; Alex Lin – Head, Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd; & Vincent Lauria (Moderator) – Managing Partner, Golden Gate Ventures

Southeast Asia has become the most preferred destination for global trade and investment due to a large number of emerging startups in the region. Many investors have showed great interest in the markets by investing at multiple stages. However, credit today is still tight and not easily available. There are several challenges and opportunities post series A funding for the startups.

At Echelon 2014, Alex Lin, Head, Infocomm Investments and part of the panel moderated by Vincent Lauria, Managing Partner, Golden Gate Ventures said that the Southeast Asian market is booming and there are a lot of investors interested in investments at early and growth stages. Edgar Hardless, CEO, SingTel Innov8 also agreed that the quality and quantity of startups is accelerating and the market offers a great opportunity in the coming months.

According to Steven Goh, Co-founder and CEO, mig33, the region is exploding and the opportunity has arrived. He also added that the rise of internet in these emerging economies is very different from the first world countries. “The world is regionalising quickly and it is a very exciting time for the SEA markets.” He also added that the Asian markets are playful and noisy as compared to the US market, which is very functional.

There is a localisation of opportunity and there are many accelerators providing assistance to local entrepreneurs, thereby promoting the startup culture. The corporates are also building ecosystem to support the new and emerging startups.

Akshay Garg, Co-founder, Komli Media, shared that as companies grow, the milestones change and moving forward, the companies have to hit profitability and occupy a significant share in the market. He also stated that one can only innovate if they have lived in that environment. The experts also shared that the investors are attracted to innovative ideas and not to a particular race.

A few startups in the region have been profitable after raising significant amounts of investment. But the number of startups exiting is low as compared to the West.  An IPO is still considered as a holy grail for startups in every country and the discussion explored alternate ways for a startup to exit. According to Peng Tsin Ong, Partner, Monk’s Hill Ventures, in three to five years, there will be a higher percentage of exits in the region.

This is a live coverage of Echelon 2014, Asia’s largest tech conference. Follow the hashtag #echelon2014 to join the Twitter conversation. View the full coverage here.



A writer at heart, Twishy thinks that no idea is small and nothing is a mistake. Some of the great works come from beautiful mistakes that are perfectly imperfect. She believes in unearthing new talent and feels that genius can be written on a bar napkin too. Incisive reporting coupled with exceptional ideas has been the love of her life. When not writing, one can find her exploring the best places to hang out with loved ones.

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