Anyone involved in Echelon knows the main man Mr. Daryl Chung. Nicknamed the “Chungster”, he was once on the path towards branding his long hair in the same way James Harden’s patented beard has made the basketball star hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sadly, National Service came calling and the hair is gone — but the dedication to Echelon is not.

“It is my blood and my baby, so needless to say I am excited about all things Echelon,” said Chung.

Echelon Asia Summit 2018 is expecting over 150 world-class speakers, 200 investors, 300 exhibition booths and 6,000 attendees on 28 – 29 June at Hall 7A, Singapore Expo.

But every year e27 has the challenge of improving on the previous years — the team raises the bar, then feels the desire to improve on that standard. Once everything is over, it’s time to look ahead and think about how next year will be the best yet.

So what are the focusses for Echelon 2018? When forced to break it down, Chung separated Echelon into three core focusses.

It is going to be all about Southeast Asia

Recent Echelons have focussed on how Southeast Asia can learn from the more mature ecosystems in the startup world — be it how to take advantage of Chinese investment or taking advantage of market opportunities in India.

Instead of looking outwards for speakers, stories and inspiration, our focus in 2018 will be for the world to witness the emergence of Southeast Asia as the best startup economy in the world.

“Southeast Asia is all grown up now and it’s time to feature the limelight on our region’s homegrown founders and startups,” said Chung.

He pointed to a frustration that Southeast Asia does not have its own version of Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report.

While Echelon is not a report, the content will tell the narrative of Southeast Asia. The conference is gathering the region’s best, and most relevant, stakeholders to share insights and knowledge about the industry.

The point is that it’s time to stop analysing the economy by as a comparison to the rest of the world but rather to discuss the region in context to itself.

“It is going to be all about Southeast Asia this Echelon,” said Chung.

Experiencing growth & diversity in the ecosystem

Diversity is the inevitable result of having curated the TOP100 startups from 23 countries across APAC.

The companies come from all over the world, they represent every vertical imaginable, and one of the most exciting parts of Echelon 2018 will be seeing the event hall turn into a cultural melting pot.

“We’ve grown our community and we are going to be expecting more innovation, quality and diversity with the startups and delegates in attendance this year,” said Chung.

This is important because Echelon 2018 won’t simply highlight how the industry looks in Singapore or Malaysia, but attendees will be able to learn about opportunities in places like Cambodia, Myanmar, Mongolia or Kazakhstan.

For people who want to find the next diamond in the rough, Echelon is the best opportunity to do so.

Integrating SMEs, Corporates, and the Government

A key success metric for Southeast Asia’s startup ecosystem has been the fact that the industry has moved beyond itself.

What this means is that, in nearly every country, governments, corporations and more recently the SMEs, all understand they need to deal with the startup revolution or risk being left behind.

“As the ecosystem matures, its no longer solely just about startups and investors. This year, we’re looking to involve SMEs, Corporates and the Government equally across all features at Echelon to facilitate more engagement with the startups and incumbent stakeholders ,” said Chung.

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He pointed to a B2B marketplace zone where startups will showcase their tech solutions to other companies. In addition to business matching opportunities, there will also be fireside chats and panel discussions addressing SME digitization and corporate innovation in the conference agenda.

Echelon will also host its inaugural Government forum this year, convening government ministries, agencies, policy makers and regulators in commerce and technology, to facilitate economic growth and synergistic opportunities through digitalization and innovation in Asia.

Echelon’s mission

We’ve been through many iterations and come a long way since inaugural Echelon in 2010, but hold steadfast in out mission, driven by a four-letter abbreviation: ICTF. The acronym stands for the following:

Insights – We have 3 stages this year (Future, Founders, Create) to address emerging trends and disruptive technologies that are shaping the ecosystem, so that stakeholders can apply informed knowledge to build & grow their businesses.

Connections — The Echelon Connect zone will facilitate structured networking and business matching amongst different stakeholders to explore partnerships, further business development and pursue other synergistic opportunities for collaboration.

Talent — The most persistent problem of any startup is hiring. Finding the correct people to help with the company is the most important job of the CEO. But it is also extremely hard and never really seems to go away. Because of this, we have a Talent Zone at Echelon 2018 to help people find the perfect hires and startup folks to get jobs.

Funding — Echelon boasts of a 20% follow-on funding rate for startups that attend, and we intend to keep this record up with the TOP100 Fight Club and startup-investor speed dating to continue empowering fundraising and deal flow for founders and investors respectively.

“Every single attendee at Echelon – be it a startup, SME, corporate, investor, partner, speaker, exhibitor – is currency to e27’s belief in the vision that every startup deserves a fair chance to succeed, and an acknowledgment of our mission to empower entrepreneurs with the tools to build and grow their business,” said Chung.

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Finally, Echelon should be fun. We are taking two days of your time and while we take the industry seriously, it’s also possible to have a good time while at work.

Our Echelon After Party is always a blast, but this year we want to encourage people to come to the event and hangout.

Expect some R&R features to help take a break from the networking and keep an eye out for some fun and engagement with the TOP100 startups (hint: high striker).

Excited yet!? We know we are stoked to have you. If you haven’t signed up yet and want to avoid the inevitable FOMO, get 100% off all ticketing categories with the promocode e27-CHUNGSTER, or follow this link. While stocks last.