Compared to larger, more established markets like China or India, Southeast Asia is still an early-stage market for venture capital investments, but start ups in SEA are on the rise. Singapore is the economic leader in the region, with the nation’s well-established global connections, advanced IT infrastructure, and sound regulatory foundation making it an ideal place for businesses and startups to flourish. While emerging markets like Indonesia and Vietnam are fertile ground for new businesses to develop innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to existing problems plaguing the market.
There is a need for entrepreneurs to identify and address their markets’ pain points on an individual level. For this reason, rather than borrowing from old approaches from the West, founders in Southeast Asia have to reinvent the wheel and recognize the cultural and operational differences unique to each market in the region. This could be the level of digital literacy and existing infrastructure or simply consumer habits, for example in Indonesia cash is very much still king while in Singapore digital and card payments are the norm.
Within the region’s emerging markets, the absence of legacy infrastructures has made it so that many of these entrepreneurs are not burdened by the red tape of bureaucracy and established processes. With some of the highest rates of mobile and internet penetration in the world, the region makes for an intensely technologically savvy and literate populace, open to innovation and disruption.