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News  11, Jun 2012

[Echelon Live] An overview of the investment ecosystem in Southeast Asia

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Last Update: 11/6 @ 4:00PM

For this panel, we see Pieter Kemps moderating the panel consisting of Vincent Lauria,  Ari KlingerJames ChanAmit Anand as well as Hugh Mason, discussing the state of investment ecosystem in Southeast Asia.

This post is part of the live coverage of Echelon 2012, Asia’s leading tech startup event happening on June 11 – 12. If you spot typos, slight inaccuracies or need more clarification, do leave a comment in the post and we’ll address it in the next edit.

Difference between Southeast Asia and the Valley

One of the key different factors pointed out during the panel is that in the Valley, those that puts money into tech startup are those that make money from tech industry itself. This effectively brings in needed experience and connections to the table. Whereas in the Southeast Asia region, angel stage investors are lesser than the Valley. Ari also pointed out that the talent of war in the Valley fueled the number of acquisitions over the years, creating acquihires, something which is rare in the Southeast Asia region.

On Innovations and what’s hot

Contrary to popular belief that tech is the next big thing, Hugh Mason found out that the F&B industry in this region is an amazing innovation. That’s nothing surprising since Southeast Asia is known for being a food haven. While Vinnie thinks that cloud is the next big thing, Amit seems to bet on SME productivity apps which focus on efficiency. Despite the slight difference in opinion, the panel seemed to agree on one thing: mobile.

So what’s the deal with mobile?

In countries like Indonesia, mobile operators are starting to play a lead in driving innovation. Together with the mobile user base in Southeast Asia, there is no doubt that investors are looking towards mobile only apps. When asked to name one promising app, Hugh mentioned that ShopSpot, which recently graduated from the JFDI bootcamp, shows a lot of promise and is a perfect example of an app which comes out from the way we live our lives in Asia. James Chan mentioned Viki, one of his portfolio company which amazes him with its distribution mechanism as well as the social behaviour.

If you want to get funded, what are the hypothesis you need to prove before going for funding?

Vinnie: “In the Valley, you have to bootstrap. After you do that for a few months, and have some traffic, then you go for the investor. Another key difference is whether or not if you are a first time entrepreneur. If you have been there and done that, it is usually easier to raise funds.”

Amid: “You have to be clear about your product offering.”

James: “Understand how your startup fit into an investor’s portfolio, see whether there is a fit and know how to pitch towards that angle.”

Hugh: “Understand the problem, show that you have the solution, show that the market wants your solution.”

Closing with a 140-character advice.

Vinnie: “Show me the crazy”

Hugh: “Show me traction”

Amit: “There are a lot of companies before you were even born”

James: “Show me how you develop your product”

Ari: “Bake in your competitive advantage”

Thanks for following the live coverage of Echelon 2012. If you’d like to check out more coverage of the sessions at Echelon 2012, follow this link.

Jacky Yap

Jacky Yap

Having spent one year abroad in Shanghai under the NUS Overseas College Programme, Jacky has an avid interest in entrepreneurship and web based startups. Jacky used to run N-House, Singapore's first entrepreneurial themed residence in NUS, and was also part of the organizing team for Startup Weekend Singapore 2012. You can reach him at jacky [at] e27 [dot] co

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