Startups in Asia! Know your ecosystem!

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2012/09/17 by lingdecklee

My Venture Capital and Entrepreneurship class professor once asked the class: ‘Compare to what they have in the Silicon Valley, do you think your home country can have something similar to theirs?’

I think we had more than 20 countries represented in that class, with Europeans accounting for nearly half the class. Yet, one by one, all of us replied no. Not even close. As a result, I nearly decided to write my MBA thesis on this topic: a comparative study of the startup ecosystems in Asia and Silicon Valley (okay, I did not do so in the end since I am more interested in doing a business plan for my startup project).

Anyway, the point is: just like any living creature on this planet, no startup can survive and thrive without the right ecosystem. The success factors are both internal as well as external, such as funding laws, government supports for new startups, education system and methods, research institutions etc. The list can go on and on. There are so many external factors to cause your startup idea to not work, irrespective of how good you, your team and your idea are. Yet, so many have naively ignored the external factors, thinking, ‘if they can do it over there in the Silicon Valley, so can we over here.’

Look, I do not mean to discourage any of us or anything. Rather, all of us should see beyond me, my team and my idea and take care of other external factors too. If your startup idea is so revolutionary but works ONLY in Silicon Valley, then find your way there by all means. The alternative is to create your own version of Silicon Valley here for your startup idea, wherever you are. We can all guess which option is simpler, nevertheless, someone has to sow the ecosystem seeds first, right?

If you are interested to know more, here are some interesting articles I found (all within the last 6 months):

Understanding A Startup’s Ecosystem in Asia; Between Business Failure and Collaboration

How to Understand Asia’s Start-up Ecosystem

Is Japan A Place for Tech Startups?

China’s Startup Ecosystem: An Overview

Thoughts on China’s Startup Ecosystem

Big Red Flag for Asian Tech Startup Ecosystem

India’s Startup Ecosystem Still Developing

If anyone is interested in researching this subject matter, let me know.

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