Participated in a panel discussion at the gala dinner of the NUS InnovFest 2012.
The moderator from Channel NewsAsia was surprised at the scale of our operations because Groupon/ Beeconomic was already huge but that was just in one city (Singapore).
Amit Anand of Jungle Ventures chimed in at one point to encourage entrepreneurs to think beyond Singapore. Indeed, the longer I stay in China, the more I consider myself fortunate to witness firsthand the scale of the challenges that entrepreneurs face, and the opportunities that come with those challenges.
The next Google will not be from Southeast Asia — deep tech is not our forte. The next Amazon will not be from Southeast Asia — we do not have the scale. The next PayPal will not be from Southeast Asia — we do not have the common market.
Our Southeast Asia is a fragmented market of different currencies, languages, regulatory systems and cultures. Each market in Southeast Asia is at its own pace of development. Therein lies opportunities for Southeast Asians.
The disparity in development means that we can conduct “business model arbitrage” — bringing ideas from other places to Southeast Asia for execution, similar to what Beeconomic in Singapore or Groupsmore in Malaysia did which resulted in them exiting to Groupon.