Southeast Asia is a diverse region made up of 11 countries, each with their own languages, cultures and religions. And when it comes to market expansion for startups, the region is further characterised by several challenges, with a lack of logistical infrastructure (especially in the archipelagos of Indonesia and Philippines) and a large share of an under-banked population amongst others.
On the other hand, the region also presents interesting opportunities with most people directly leap-frogging PCs and laptops into mobile. Digital consumer behaviour is fundamentally different, and while many other regions are flat-lining in digital growth, Southeast Asia’s internet penetration still has significant room to grow.
This was a presentation prepared by my colleague Kevin Hoong and I, for founders arriving in Singapore for 500 Startups’ Global Launch Program in early 2020. (Yes, this was right before COVID-19 blew up – and it’s odd how things are so different now)
Here are five digital startup trends which I found (more) unique to Southeast Asia:
- The rise of the “super-apps”
- Solving last-mile logistics with a distributed agent economy
- Offline to online digitisation
- Leapfrogging credit cards with new payment infrastructure
- Mobile entertainment and shoppertainment