We all know about the ‘matured market’ of the west; they’d say – do your startup here – this is where all the action is – this where money is – scaling is an issue in Asia and bla bla bla. No doubt, all this is very true but then its kind of hard to buy a story that things will not change soon in favor of Asia. Picture this: “Very soon indeed, coz it’d take only few good investors from the Valley to look at opportunities in Asia and invest into them. The rest of the herd and the nerd will follow the trend suo moto”.
And for those who ignore a fact that whatever is off-shored to Asia today is also a peep-hole that’d grow into a challenge for the ‘creators in the valley’ itself, one can only recommend this: grow up. Asian entrepreneurship is slated to grow, despite the challenges that lie ahead. So is it really the immaturity of markets in Asia as they put it, or is it lack of will that one can only wait to fade away sometime soon? In my humble opinion, it is anything but immaturity of the market and for the least the lack of will at all. The charm of this market is on, else why would Zynga open office in Bangalore, Facebook in Hyderabad, Amazon Webservices in Singapore for example?
If one looks at some of recent articles that talk about ‘meritocracy and entrepreneurship’ in the valley, a concern can be ascertained through the eyes of the valley, who talk about withdrawing talent from America. Some of it can be attributed to recession of course. But at the same time there is enough proof of rising stars from Asia – taking India, China, Thailand, Singapore etc. – where entrepreneurship has been budding for last couple of years. A thorough research on China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and India reflects that each of these countries have evolved pretty much like the New Zealands of internet, each having its own set of online offerings, suitable and evolved as per social sub-structure of the respective country.
Like New Zealand, which was cut-off from rest of the world with its completely isolated position way down south, where the animals, birds, plants, insects and even the fruits evolved in an entirely different fashion is something that can be likened to how internet has evolved in China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia per se. And nothing that you see in these places can compare with life-forms elsewhere in the world. India & Singapore being English oriented countries are somewhat closer to western online offerings, but are definitely unique owing to different culture & social situation as compared to west. In China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia where the spoken language is obscure, religious belief is spectacular, and at times policies are radically closed (even coercible), the inherent lifestyle and the needs of people is adapted in such a way that nothing that’s happening in the Valley or elsewhere really matters to people at all.
Take China for example. The country is totally a control freak with all spears against any word spoken outside of its realm. But does that deter the rise of popular internet based services like Baidu, Bedo, Taobao, Renren etc.? You will be surprised to note that despite the alleged “control” over information as depicted by media outside, the Chinese Government (sometimes referred as super-ministry) does use social media to connect with its people too. In it is the first such service launched by a key state-owned news website in China, Chinese Premier Hu Jintao too set up his account for People’s Microbogging. And it seems not a fake one, as we found out that this account has been verified by the service operator! The sheer size of population in the country ensures twitter-like scenario for the Chinese microblog.
Similarly there is Mobage Town & Mixi in Japan, Kaskus, Koprol & Kulacak in Indonesia, Nurien, me2day, Naver in Korea, Nuffnang, Elevyn in Malaysia and the list can go forever! What has really kept the action from taking full steam in Asia is a lack of consolidated effort in making each other aware of the available offerings. Blame it to the language bug. There is maturity here, wealth here, there is a fine streak of intellect, there is abundant talent and that tiny little bug of entrepreneurship too that very often we Asians bury aside. I know a lot of really smart & intellectual people who earlier resigned to fate of day jobs to either lead a simple professional life or to seek solace within family & kids that are looking up to entrepreneurship this time again. How long can such a zeal be kept under the hood, after all?
Growth for startups in Asia is not very far. It will not only be powered by competitiveness of the Asian countries but also be added with some amount of chivalry that has been missing in the past few generations from this part of the world. The herd of venture capitalists from valley will surely have to move to greener pastures sometime soon.