Last week, we had our first event in Sydney – Echelon Ignite Australia. With almost 300 attendees, our one-day event was filled with a full day of Southeast Asia-centric content and concluded with MathSpace emerging as the most promising Australian startup.
Thailand and Indonesia: Countries you should look at
Patai Padungtin, principal at Builk Asia as well as Anthony Liew, Chief Executive Officer of Merah Putih Incubator, both shared various statistics of Thailand and Indonesia respectively, showcasing various trends and opportunities to Australia startups and investors interested in the two countries.
- 69 million population, second largest economy in ASEAN
- 78 million mobile subscribers, 25 million internet users, 20 million access internet through mobile
- 18.5 million Facebook users
- 10% of LINE’s 150 million users are from Thailand.
- Thailand has the third largest number of 7 Eleven Stores after Japan & USA (7,000 outlets), offering a great payment gateway for e commerce companies
- There are 10 coworking spaces now in Bangkok
- 10.8 million smartphones and tablets are expected to be shipped in 2013.
- There are more than 16 million credit cards in 2013.
- Thailand is among the global top 15 mobile apps market in terms of downloads. It is also the only Southeast Asian country on the list, according to App Annie.
- 240+ million population 6%+ GDP Growth for the past three years
- Indonesia is the largest country in SEA, makes up more than 30 percent of the total SEA population.
- 55 million internet users (Internet World Stat as of May 2012)
- E-commerce is huge in Indonesia. Anthony cited examples such as Disdus (Groupon), LivingSocial, Tokobagus, Tokopedia, Rakuten, Rumah123, Zalora, Lazada, Traveloka and many more.
- Mobile apps is huge in Indonesia. There are more than 220 million mobile subscribers
- While the potential is huge, Anthony also noted that there are a few challenges for companies and startups to overcome, notably: competing with free alternatives, lack of incentives to buy online, lack of good solutions for mobile payments, and certain regulatory retards which makes setting up in Indonesia painful. Of course, there are ways to go around that.
Of opportunities and investments in Singapore
Other than the Thailand and Indonesia opportunities, another widely discussed topic at Echelon Ignite Australia was the topic of funding and opportunities in Singapore. According to Edgar Hardless, CEO of SingTel Innov8, if you can’t get funded to US$250,ooo in Singapore, you’re not much of an entrepreneur.
“In Singapore there is plenty of money up to the 500k mark. In fact to be honest., the reality is if anyone comes to me in Singapore saying they are struggling to raise $250,000, I actually sometimes don’t rate them as an entrepreneur. Because there is literally so much money available. There are 15, 16 TIS (Technology Incubation Scheme) incubators. . . who are available to give funding up to around $600,000.”
Singapore based angel investor John Tan on the other hand, cautioned startup founders to not raise any funding unless they absolutely have to. To John, fund raising is a “necessary evil.”
“Don’t raise money unless you really have to, I think there’s something to be said about bootstrapping and growing organically. Honestly, to me, fundraising is a distraction. If you really need that money, avoid the temptation of raising more than you need. When you have not a lot of money you are more disciplined in how you spend the money.” – John Tan.
MathSpace wins Most Promising Australia startup
After a day of Southeast Asia-centric content and panel, 11 startups pitched themselves to a panel of judges consisting of Mohan Belani of e27, Edgar Hardless of SingTel Innov8, Amit Anand of Jungle Ventures, Benjamin Chong of Right Click Capital as well as Garry Visontay of Sydney Seed Fund. MathSpace is cofounded by former derivatives trader Mohamad Jebara and tutor Chris Velis. The cloud-based maths learning software is now in its trial phase for 15 schools in New South Wales and Victoria, and Jebara says he has a very high conversion rate among those he has approached.
MathSpace will be pitching against 10 other startups at the main Echelon event on June 4 in Singapore.