It isn’t about Alibaba in 2017 but about what it was in 1999 when Jack Ma went on to the street and asked about 30 people if they knew Alibaba and thought to himself ‘this is the name!’ for people’s knowledge about ‘Ali Baba’ from the Arabic literature One Thousand and One Nights was appealing.
From China’s WeChat with over 900 million monthly users to India’s Thyrocare that has 1122 outlets across India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Middle East, Asia is the home to many successful businesses that were once a person or a group of a person dreaming big. India and China, two big contributors to the world economy and mansion to many startups that turned into billion dollar companies and the neighboring nations that got inspired by these two and awakened young minds towards innovation have been the well-portrayed story in the book of startups. While not every new company is a startup, we can say that a successful business that offered a product or service that became the talk for a while was once a startup and the reason they came this far is mostly because of the innovation, vision and the belief of the founders.
In countries like India, the government itself has been running startup campaigns for a couple of years now. Though statistics suggest that the campaign failed to give the desired number of startups in 2016, falling 67% from the previous year, the year 2015 had a rise of 87% according to Tracxn, an analytics firm that tracks startups. It is a bad news for India because it is predicted to replace China as the most populated nation by 2022, which will hold hands with unemployment and poverty if more and more jobs are not created. Startups and newly formed projects can be the light at the end of the tunnel if India continues to support startups like Flipkart, SnapDeal, and the controversial Ola which will employ people in the enterprise creating jobs and adding different skills in their job descriptions.
Even a country like Nepal without a prosperous economy has a directory of startups that will take weeks to read about individually. But maybe, startups succeed well in a developing nation rather than a developed one because the startup is all about letting the new ideas and Nepal has a lot of ideas that aren’t in yet. Microsoft Innovation Center in Nepal has been actively helping new tech startups from their training to funding and there are organizations and events actively aiding and supporting the entrepreneurial vision of youths. Startups in Nepal varies from mobile apps, PC software, online services to products and technology developments. Although the startups here fail to gain international attention, the internal talks on startup activities and trends have been a great interest among people in recent years. The latest big news on startups was when the Kantipur Media Group (KMG), the leading media house in the country decided to invest to F1 soft International, the largest Financial Technology company of the country for its signature product eSewa and mobile banking applications. The rumor says it’s about $15 million amount and which is the highest investment a startup company received in Nepal so far. This kind of activity surely creates the hope in the emerging startup founders of a possibility of entering into a large scale.
Singapore, another Asian nation is not only connected to many countries that fostered its international trade but it is also a leader in IT industry. It was named the best startup ecosystem of Asia 2 years back while it has been hoping its position in the world’s list as well. Most of the startups in Singapore use app store and play store as their work ground for most of them are apps and software related to lifestyle, messenger, food services, transportation etc.
Apps are not only the trend in Singapore but they also constitute most of the startups in India, China, Malaysia, and Japan.
Japan has taken its anime industry to another level by many startups launched on the basis of anime and manga target Okatus worldwide. Apps that let users dress up like anime characters and play games are most popular startups based in Japan.
E-commerce is popular in almost all Asian countries and throughout the world. It is an obvious and not worth mentioning fact that most startups throughout the continent and the entire world economy is based on IT and the majority of them are in the forms of mobile apps.
Wechat from China is a successful messaging app but it was started as a project at Tencent Guangzhou Research and Project Center in October 2010 had over 889 million monthly active users in 2016 and in 2017 it was reported that more than half of WeChat’s users spend over 90 minutes a day on the app. This is a one success story that will pump the adrenaline in young mind’s veins and make them google ‘How to start a successful business?’
Success stories are the sweet part of the fruit but it’s the bitter part that pulls the innovator’s leg. Statistics show that most startups fail and shut down in the first two years. A learning conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics found that 90% of Indian startups fail within the first five years and the reason being ‘lack of innovation’. The study also surveyed venture capitalists and 77% of them believe that Indian startups lack new business model and innovation. Apart from innovation, other reasons found were the lack of skilled manpower and funding. Not everybody can be the next WeChat but being a crucial part of the economy is surely the current trend of Asia. Asians have their version of international company for almost everything. India has Gaana for Spotify, Ola for Uber, and China, they have a Chinese version for almost everything we can think of.
While only a few Asian countries have been acing the race of startups, talking about just numbers, Asia is the land to look out for.
Edited by Anuj.