“Singapore is not that far behind from Silicon Valley,” says Dimmes Doornhein, Chairman – Supervisory Board, Aureus Analytics. The Dutch national is an entrepreneur and international executive with over 30 years of experience. He sits on the board of several technology companies across Europe, along with the Mumbai- and Singapore-based Big Data firm.
e27 chatted up with Doornhein during his visit to India this week. Here, the European serial entrepreneur shares his take on the burgeoning startup spirit in Asia and why he is bullish on India. Excerpts:
On Asia not being very different from Europe…
Startups in Asia and Europe face similar challenges — getting people with the right skills, language barriers, cultural disparity and the scattered way in which people do business. But fortunately, the ecosystem is developing.
Just as in Southeast Asia, the way things work changes drastically when we move from the Netherlands to neighbouring country Belgium. Hence, I strongly believe that in regions such as Asia and Europe, locals are extremely critical. Understanding the culture, people and the pulse of the market cannot be done without local insight. In fact, even though Belgium speaks the same language as us, I would dare not think of penetrating the market alone.
What is evident now is that Europe has its eyes on Asia now. We are seeing venture capitalists from Europe investing in Asia. Favourable conditions, along with bright ideas, talented human assets, a huge market and the monies have made Asia a world on its own. And I must say, it is quickly heating up.
On why Singapore is leading in the region…
Startups in Singapore have a strong planning structure. If there is an idea, entrepreneurs have the conviction to bring that idea to life. Another positive is that the city-state is fiscal-friendly. There is legal and government support to boost the ecosystem. What can be barriers to entry — people, money, market — are non issues, meaning all these elements are present in abundance.
Silicon Valley is an institute in itself. However, Singapore is not that far behind the US. It is just about putting the infrastructure together.
The only downside I see is that Singapore is an extremely expensive country, which is something that works against the ecosystem.
On India being in an excellent position…
It is only a matter of time before India sees a developed startup ecosystem. India is a young country and the tech talent produced every year is phenomenal. Startups have a problem-solving approach.
With the new government coming in and the focus on entrepreneurship (the proposal to set up a US$1.7 billion venture capital fund for startups in Union Budget), the vibe in the country is that now things are really going to happen. I believe all the elements are there, and now the time is ripe to get the system going.