Bridging Europe and Asia: building a start-up in Asia I
I have recently returned to the Asia zone after delivering a talk in Berlin on "Bridging Europe and Asia: building a start-up in Asia." My impetus for sharing my experience is not solely based on my ongoing start-up journey spanning both Europe and Asia, but also because there are numerous valuable insights that I am eager to impart. South East Asia and South Asia are considered to be the next growth hubs. Wherever I go, people discuss the economic miracles of Vietnam over the past two years and the upcoming potential of India. However, for many European companies or entrepreneurs, like myself, who have primarily operated in Europe and the US, the question arises: how can we succeed in these markets?
During my talks, I always emphasize the first rule: never consider Asia as a single entity. This is especially true in South East Asia. Even a startup with limited resources, it is essential to prepare to establish two offices concurrently in South East Asia. Depending on your industry, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia all have something unique to offer.
Why establish offices in two countries from the beginning? The cultural gap between Thailand and the Philippines is certainly greater than that between Germany and Portugal. To fully capture the growth potential of South East Asia, exposure to two markets is critical. As each economy evolves, different talent categories emerge in each market. Building two offices is an effective strategy for talent recruitment, company culture development, and product advancement.