In the US, over 70 percent of tech startups “stall at some point” in the venture capital process and “fail to exit or raise follow-on funding,” CB Insights, a research firm.
Whereas, startup activity in Southeast Asia has never been as robust as it is now, with funding for homegrown ventures hitting a record US$7.86 billion in 2017.
Founders of companies in different stages of growth, from relative newbies to those that have gone through mergers and acquisitions, Tech in Asia.
For Ng Jing Shen, co-founder and CEO, Paktor, dating was simply another problem that software could help solve.
Together with Joseph Phua, the former Amazon software engineer, Ng launched dating app Paktor in 2013. Ng has helped it grow to more than 880,000 monthly active users, and Paktor now claims a user base of over 15 million.
Its largest markets are in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea.
Paktor has since acquired livestreaming service 17Media as well as other dating apps in Taiwan, the US, Brazil, and Spain.
Dating is extremely culturally sensitive, and the app needed to have its very own DNA. Not all Asian countries are the same.
One should learn to respect the similarities and differences between the countries. The local context and history of dating in each of the countries drive the way for building the product for each market.
Look forward to using the app to,
• find like-minded friends,
• have assurance that they are able to connect with quality matches
• expand their social circle
Paktor as a bar with a good band – Having a good band attracts more people, and good music makes people want to spend more time in the bar. Coming to the bar more often also naturally increases chances of meeting new people.
Ensure high levels of localization in user experience culture-specific dating nuances.
Paktor also believes that while dating can start online, it will always end up offline. Synergizing the online-to-offline experience of dating will lead to a superior experience for our users.
This led to launch GaiGai, an offline dating counterpart, which specializes in matchmaking and one-on-one consultation.
It is a constant cycle of experimentation, testing, refinement, sieving through data, and making sense of user patterns.
Ankiti Bose, co-founder and CEO, Zilingo
With a background in management consulting and investment, Bose teamed up with Dhruv Kapoor, ex-Yahoo engineer to launch a fashion and lifestyle marketplace for Southeast Asians.
Zilingo has raised US$81.9 million across four funding rounds and is reportedly discussing an US$80 million with its current investors.
The platform has around one million active users.
Let’s say you are starting up in fashion or fintech or real estate. You may want to disrupt the business, but it’s key to understand very well what you are trying to disrupt. Half-baked knowledge can hurt your own product market fit.
As an early-stage founder, you are simultaneously fundraising, building product, learning how to deal with money and legalities, building a team.
It helps to have guidance and expertise in those matters from someone who has already done them.
Entrepreneurs gain domain knowledge from experts in consumer behavior and psychology. Understanding why someone needs your product is crucial.
A strong mentor who can guide you through prioritizing is helpful as well.
Benefit from having other successful founders being closely involved in business as mentors and advisors.
Esther Nguyen, founder and CEO, Pops Worldwide
Around 10 years ago, Nguyen left her life in San Francisco and moved to Vietnam to establish Pops Worldwide. But before doing so, she sought investors in the Bay Area.
Today, her entertainment network has 32 million monthly active users and more than 800 content partners globally. It has strong performance in Vietnam and Thailand. She now plans to expand to Indonesia and the Philippines.
“I never stopped to think about how this would change my life. I didn’t think it would mean not retiring to the Bay Area, where my friends, family, and investors are.”
When entrepreneurs go in to start companies, they get very passionate about their idea. Sometimes, they forget to think what this move would do to their loved ones and to themselves.
“I was raising money in the Bay Area, where no one understood Southeast Asia. [It was] during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. How was I going to find that needle in the haystack?”
Today, it’s quite different – you have a lot more options in the region. if an entrepreneur is looking to raise money today, they should tap into where they are most comfortable.
Trust your gut. Ask people around you – good advisors, people in the industry, and people you trust. You make the final decision, but take their advice into account.
“You’re just going to have to keep knocking on doors. Every time you pitch, ask them to introduce you to three or four people they know who may be interested. You may have to do 1,000 pitches, but that’s how you raise money in the end.”
Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Enterprise
Source: A discussion with fournders of Patkor, a Dating App – local publication