There has always been hype around Silicon Valley – it’s warranted of course, San Fran has birthed many amazing startups and founders in it’s time. But being smack bang in the Asia Pac region, should Aussie Startups be looking closer to home for a mass market to explore? My thinking is yes, we should, and whilst majority of the herd will continue to venture across to the US for a while yet to get our product in front of 300 odd million pairs of eyes, there are a quiet handful of Aussie Entrepreneurs setting up shop, building teams and focusing on a Asian strategy for their business which will likely yield them a handsome acquisition offer in the not too distant future.
Let’s have a look at some of the Australian entrepreneurs going after customers in Asia and why it is such an important part of their growth strategy.
Alec Lynch: Design Crowd
Design Crowd founder Alec Lynch primarily has his core team based here in Australia and remote launched into the Asian market. Dealing with customers and designers in Asia his business is a bit unique in that he looks at both sides of the equation. Although currently the US is the companies biggest source of sales, the next year will see the organisation targeting the 26 million small and mirco businesses across India. Last week he also launched his first full time staff member in the Philippines as he prepares to tap into the huge designer market there.
“While the rise of crowdsourcing in Asia is not widely written about or discussed, the reality is that Asia is embracing crowdsourcing like no other region, with many of the world’s largest or leading crowdsourcing sites either based in the Asia Pacific region or powered by users from Asian countries. In this article, I highlight 5 things you didn’t know about crowdsourcing in Asia, illustrating the secret crowdsourcing boom unfolding in the continent” said Lynch in a piece written for Tech Crunch last year.
Georgia Beattie – Lupe Wines
Georgia Beattie is behind fast growing brand Lupe Wines, a wine packaging company that allows customers to enjoy single serve glasses of wine. Whilst her product is getting significant cut through in the Aussie industry the real shining star in her business is her Asian customer base. One of the notes that needs to be made with this particular success in Asia is that Australia have a lack of free trade agreements in that market. This makes it somewhat difficult to get wine into the market at a profitable margin.
With the Lupé product however, it is new and stands out on the shelves as a complimentary product to the wine bottles. The product has been well received, particularly in Japan and Korea: Beattie tapped into the assistance of the Victorian Government trade missions, who were supportive of the product and set up contacts and meetings. In addition to strong sales across Asia, investment has also come to the company from Singapore and they are currently looking at building relationships with Hotels and Airlines across the region.
Mick Spencer – OnTheGo Sports
Mick Spencer who started his Canberra based sports merchandising and apparel business at the age of 18, now has permanent offices set up in both China and Hong Kong. The company is able to tap into lower cost ways of manufacturing products and shipping to Australia, but on the reverse side of the coin Asia is one of the fastest growing markets in the business. The products which are a perfect fit for the very large sporting communities across the Asian region are going down a treat across the region, especially in Taiwan, a surprise strong market for them. At the moment OnTheGo is well ahead of their growth plans in Asia and see it as being a major part of their business in the next couple of years.
In a region that houses the bulk of the world’s population and where there are basically more smart phones than people, clever startups should at least be taking a trip across the ocean to check out opportunities that may exist for their business. In a place where there are more small businesses than the entire population of Australia, you never know what you may uncover…