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News  18, May 2012

Valleys of the East – Innovative startups in Asia

Photo: Google Images

The VC landscape varies significantly across the different ‘Valleys of the East”, the Silicon Valley type areas that have started to develop across Asia.  Shaped by their respective economy, culture, business climate, market dynamics and opportunities, the startups also tend to have a different focus. Let’s explore how some of these are tapping into opportunities presented by their local market dynamics.

India – IT, BPO, and the skill gap

India is an emerging economy with specific dynamics and challenges that are caused by the mere size of the country and its population. The fast growth of the IT and Outsourcing industry has driven the requirement for “Learned” manpower. There is a massive gap between high-skilled jobs and low-skilled labor, and some people believe that this could adversely impact India’s economic growth.

Enter Classle, a startup that provides an online social learning platform. Build on the Amazon Web Services cloud, Classle offers online Academics, Projects, Quizzes, and more, all backed by an analytics engine that creates personal profiles and scorecards. This enables students to experience a social and fun way to learn and make their talent visible to employers. For employers in the IT and Outsourcing industry, it offers them a way to identify and hire talent faster and easier, with less risk as they have access to in-depth profiles & analytics on the candidates. Classle is a great example of a company that is born out of the needs of the local market, but could grow to address similar challenges in other emerging economies.

Singapore – high-end manufacturing

Singapore has developed incredibly fast in the last 40 years and now combines a high GDP with steady growth. Its economy leverages their location and port to be a main trading and financial hub. The country has also developed its high-end manufacturing industry, which helped it to become a prime location in the chip industry. When designing chips, a large part of the time and costs are actually spend on hardware and software to run simulations.

Plunify recognized this problem and built a smart platform for ‘Cloud-accelerated Chip Design’. On top of Amazon Web Services’ cloud infrastructure, they built algorithms and an integration layer around different software tools for various stages of the chip design process. Altogether, this delivers a platform that drastically reduces the cost of the chip design process, while significantly accelerating the time to market. As such, they are potentially playing a key role in the growth and modernization of the chip industry in Singapore.

China – powerhouse of game developers

China is not just growing fast as an economic power-house; it also grows fast as a tech-savvy, connected society, with a very large and active community of engineers and developers. Many of these are based in the Zhongguancun area in Beijing (see my previous post) and focus on developing social games.

A great example of a successful social game developer in China is FunPlus Game, a leading social gaming company that currently ranks as one of the Top 7 game developers on Facebook with over 3 million daily active users (DAU).  In Europe, they are the top game developer on the leading social networks and the Netherlands and Germany and their farming game is the number one game in the Arabic version of Facebook. FunPlus games runs on AWS. “With our social game growing from 1 million to 3 million in 3 months, we can spin out more than 300 servers quickly, only managed by 1 engineer”, says Yitao Guan, CTO of FunPlus Game. His company continues to develop great games, leading to fast growth across the world.

All three companies are examples of innovation, entrepreneurship, and an ability to spot opportunities presented by local market dynamics. And these are just 3 of many…

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal thoughts of Pieter Kemps and do not reflect the views of his employer or their associates.

Pieter Kemps

Pieter Kemps

Pieter Kemps is responsible for establishing and managing Amazon’s relations with the Startup and Venture Capital community in Asia. He engages frequently with the leading Incubators and VC's across the region and helps them to create value in their portfolio companies by leveraging the AWS platform. In doing so, he supports startups that use AWS to better develop, market, and monetize their offerings, and connects them with VC’s where appropriate. He has an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Summa Cum Laude), specialized in Entrepreneurship & Venture Capital. Pieter has been in South East Asia for 8 years and works closely with the startup eco-system in Singapore. He truly enjoys working with startups, and spends lots of time with them in Manila, Bangkok, KL and even Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong. He is a mentor for GSF Accelerator in India and has been speaking at Echelon, TechVentures, beLaunch, TechSparks, and more.

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