Last year was yet another period of drastic changes in my life followed by series of trips to SE Asia.
Things I felt in each startup scene in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are very diverse. At the same time I saw great necessity for creating bridge between these countries and Japan in terms of access to venture capital and human resources.
Hence, 2012 was also the year I started making angel investment in startups.
Trend in each startup scene was somewhat similar. I saw many startups in the area of P2P marketplace (from car sharing to job outsourcing), cloud & micro financing and smart phone based eCommerce targeted at niche segment.
By acting as angel investor I can be more involved with not only individual startup but also entire ecosystem across SE Asia as a whole.
If two startups are trying to get into the same area but from different countries (or angles), why not collaborate and increase chance of survival?
I understand there is opinion that chasing more than one region at the same time will result in higher failure rate since development and marketing effort will have to split. It totally makes sense to just focus on own region first and then move on to the next.
However, we have seen cases like Twitter, Groupon, Instagram where second dominant user comes from Japan. In recent cases, startups originated from Asian countries such as Between, Burpple, KakaoTalk are the few examples that are quite keen and aggressive to Japanese market.
What does it imply? From my point of view, it’s clear that Japanese market can function as secondary (or sometimes primary) accelerator to their business due to its high penetration rate of smart phones and habit of spending more money for online services than ones in other Asian countries.
I believe by making angel investment in startups I can narrow the gap between two ecosystems and help startup get the most out of what our country has to offer or vice versa.
I’m hoping 2013 will be the year for startups finally beginning to see both venture capital and human resources freely flowing across Asia.