APAC region

WHY SOUTHEAST ASIA IS THE NEW STARTUP HUB

KARMEN TANG
FOUNDER OF ANOTHER STARTUP STORY
APRIL 29, 2019

Founders used to be obsessed with breaking America and Europe, now the ‘Middle Kingdom’ is becoming more appealing with the rise of accelerator start-up programs.

SEA has multiple countries all at different development stages and cultures. The ten ASEAN nations each have their own culture, set of consumer behaviors and local trends, in which there are still many problems to be solved.

The population size of SEA is two times that of the US, meaning the US and Europe are no longer the largest consumers of internet usage. Smartphone usage is only expected to increase and grow exponentially. For example, Vietnam has seen an increase in smartphone possession from 35% to 65%.

What does this mean for us? In this digital age, it means a massive shift in consumer/retailer behavior. Consumers are now better equip through the use of apps to allow them to make better decisions to improve their quality of lives.

Source: Global Web Index, We Are Social Report, Mar 2015

Source: Global Web Index, We Are Social Report, Mar 2015

The brands that have already made a massive disruption in the SEA market include the likes of Alibaba, Lazada, GoJek, Traveloka and Grab. All of which aim to improve efficiency, but there are still a number of issues like underdeveloped infrastructure and logistics. All of which present great opportunities for startups to come in and solve real problems.

The Chinese start-up scene is now stronger than ever, with the advanced level of technology, a rise in investors and VC funds and of course, the predominant Chinese work ethic. Not to mention, the lower corporation and income tax rates which makes it more attractive to the founders.  Utilizing this higher supply and advisory networks will equip founders with the support they need to excel in their ventures.

Source: Arden Capital, e-commerce in Southeast Asia

Source: Arden Capital, e-commerce in Southeast Asia

The SEA economy is one of the most rapidly growing regions. Led by Singapore, the most developed country in the region, other countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong are not too far behind. A recent survey showed that Singapore has the most amount of successful startups in SEA.

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Cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore have so much to offer in terms of sight-seeing, shopping, amazing food and nightlife. With English being the commonly spoken language, it makes it very traveler-friendly and expat-friendly. Asia has also become a popular destination for downtime retreats for artists, creatives, influencers, thought-leaders and entrepreneurs.


Despite the high rental costs in Hong Kong, the average cost of living is only US$2800 a month compared to a 46% increase of US$5211 in Silicon Valley.


Despite this surgency of startup culture and tech disruption within the APAC region, there is definitely room for more. These favorable factors mean there’s never been a better time than to start your own business here. With an abundance of opportunities, it’s really the place to be.

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