Summary of Echelon 2013, Asia’s Leading Tech Event #echelon2013

Echelon 2013

Echelon took place on June 4-5, 2013. Industry leaders, influential investors and business mentors came together to discuss trends in digital, mobile, the internet and where Asia’s tech industry is heading to.

Here is a summary of some of my favorite talks:

Building products that solve problems – Sahil Lavingia – Founder & CEO, Gumroad

– When you build stuff, at the beginning you’re not going to be good at it. It’s ok. Stick at it, eventually it will be good.
– Intuition is nonsense. Try a lot of things, and you learn a lot of things. Nothing is more important than just building.
– Do, do, do, that’s the only way to learn and improve. Don’t just talk about wanting to build things, just build them.
– Pick one problem. Just focus on a single thing and outsource everything that is not part of your core problem.
– Launch as soon as you can. If you can provide some value, do it now.
– Believe in your assumption(s), believe in your vision & the future you are working towards. Have trust in your customers.
– Focus on the immediate value that you can give today, not tomorrow. Users care about ‘now’.

Shifts in investments trends in Silicon Valley and the Series A crunch – Dave McClure – Founding Partner, 500 Startups

– VCs screw up as bad/often as startups do.
– 500 Startups’ strategy: make small bets in early-stage startups and wait 6 – 12 months to keep investing in the top 20% performers.
– Don’t prioritize money from the government for money from your customers
– Instead of spending money for a MBA to read about successful case studies from other companies, use that money to build your own company
– Copy/use 99% all the amazing stuff out there. Innovate on the other 1%
– Raising money is a means to an end, not the goal. Founders sometimes lose focus.

What are Asian telco doing to move away from just being dumb pipes of the mobile and internet industry (panel)

– If telcos want to stay innovative, they have to think about new business models and partnerships to go forward.
– Telcos play a great role as connectors. They can open up markets, help startups grow says the panel.
– Innovating in a big company is difficult because of politics & bureaucracy. Working together with true innovators is important. Singtel Innov8 is partnering with the startup stars.
– In Indonesia, less than 10% of population has smartphones (early adopters). Feature phones are still predominant.
-SingTel’s Chen Chuan Loo says Singapore has highest smartphone density on planet: it is a great place to launch a mobile app.

Asian Consumer Trends: Digital Cramming – the urge to do more in every mobile minute Tara Hirebet – Head of Asia Pacific, trendwatching.com

– Innovation starts in Asia’s megacities.
– Half of Shanghai people spend their time multitasking between multiple screens (TV, laptop or mobile).
– Mobile moments: plugged into mobiles 24/7, Asian consumers will embrace digital quickies and hypertasking apps that allow them to save time and squeeze more into every minute.
– Culture cramming: Asians will snap up devices, apps, interactive sites and games that allow them to celebrate their culture cuisines, customs, festivals and faith, online and on the go.
– In Asia, we are used to the lack of privacy and personal space, whereas in the West, privacy is paramount.
– R(e)tail: today, Asia’s biggest megacities and one-stop shops are online offering aggregation, curation and access without geographical limits.

The future of Social Media and Mobile Communications in Asia – Thomas Clayton – President & CEO, Bubble Motion

– Asia: highly diverse population (52 languages, 1000+ dialects, 27 currencies), mobile centric society (3B+ mobile subscribers vs 1B Internet users), feature phone users outnumber smartphone users 4-to-1
– Credit card penetration is minimal in Asia. Lowest customer loyalty in the world for mobile services.
– Asia accounts for 65% of world’s Internet growth.
– Asia is so price sensitive that a 20% increase in taxis for Singapore had huge impact.
– Asia is mobile first because of the inverse correlation between income and mobile centricity.
– Smartphone penetration in Asia still lags sizably — but Singapore expected to hit 90% smartphone penetration by 2015.
– China is now the largest app market in the world.
– Monetization of apps is still very low in Asia because price sensitivity is very high in Asia: likelihood to pay for an app in Asia is 1/6th of that of Western markets.
– Over 50% of Asian mobile app revenue comes from Japan.
– Twitter and FB are both focusing on feature phones for growth in Asia.
– Line dominates most of SEA: Thailand with Indonesia and Philippines tipping in that direction. Line’s monthly revenue is more than Whatsapp’s annual revenue..

Are Banks Ready For Isaac? – Scott Bales – Chief Mobile Officer, Moven

– Some people leave the bank voluntarily. They don’t trust banks anymore. They want simple products.
– At the age of 17, 97% of people choose their bank partner for life.
– Banks are product manufactories but they are not good at building good user experiences.
– Problem for banks means opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Startup markets around the region (panel)

– Casey Lau: Government in HK doesn’t know what startups are. Little support compared to Singapore.
– Paul Rivera: Just because more people are creating startups doesn’t mean there’s a bubble: the bubble in SEA is not big enough to explode.
– Better success stories from HK startups will go into China first, not too familiar with SEA.

In summary, a very insightful event. e27 will be compiling the slides from the speakers in the next few days — watch out for them on their blog!