Starting up in ASEAN is not the same as in the US: Asian culture is less empowering to the individualistic ambitions that often drive entrepreneurs. In this video CXA Group CEO Rosaline Koo gives us some perspectives on starting a business in Asia, why it is different now from the “.com” era and what it is to be an entrepreneur in Asia.
Rosaline Koo presents her perspectives on starting up in Asia in the current business environment. She is interviewed on the side of the Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit that took place in December 2014.
Key points about starting up in ASEAN
Compared to the “.com” era when companies started Internet services thinking that customers and revenues would eventually come by themselves, tech startups now are more focused on creating real businesses: solving real problems, getting revenues and earning profits.
Startups that have a solid business models, pinpointing a problem and responding to a specific unmet need, do obtain funding. Profitability, sales and growth are very much scrutinized to be granted funding in ASEAN countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore, where the startup environment is quite well developed.
Disruption from startups for big companies
Large companies have to meet their quarterly business objectives and cannot take big long-term risks. They have several layers of processes to comply with before enacting any decision, which makes them slow to move and adapt to changing business conditions.
Therefore startups that can take risks and move fast do have an edge to outrun large corporation and disrupt their business models. So, in order to be able to innovate and move to new business areas, large companies buy little innovative startups and try to integrate them without breaking their dynamism and innovative culture.
Product innovation and adaptability
In her own healthcare benefits startup, CXA Group, Rosaline Koo enables much more personalized healthcare benefits services and provides more customized advantages than her main competitors, multinational Western healthcare insurers. Innovating and providing more customized services against large companies’ standardized services, she could attract several multinationals to become her clients.
Startup culture in Asia
In the US, failure is seen as an ordeal that has been confronted to come out stronger in personal and business activities. On the contrary in Asia, it is seen as a loss of face to the entrepreneur and his family. So being an entrepreneur in Asia really takes even more courage, perseverance and a rebel spirit to go against one’s culture and the status quo.
Bloomberg video from December 2014