Summary of Startup Asia 2013 #startupasia2013


Startup Asia 2013 took place in Singapore on April 4-5. It was a 2-day conference bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, media, and thought leaders across the Asian tech community to discuss market trends and discover innovative startups in the region.

There were good learnings for both VCs or global startups interested in South-East Asian ‘hot’ markets.

Here are a few takeaways from the conference:


– It takes 2.5 days to get 1 billion tweets now. It took more than 3 years to get the first 1 billion tweets.
– Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines are countries with most activity on Twitter.
– User experience is a priority for Twitter.
– Learn to use Twitter organically. It’s a great way to engage with your customers. Twitter is not a social graph, but an interest graph.
– Have an authentic voice. Use the same person to send the tweets to give your brand a human side.
– You can do thematic tweets. For example, you would give tips on Mondays, tweet inspirational images on Tuesdays and so on.

Women Entrepreneurs

– When you hire women it affects & improves the overall business.
– Diversity is a good idea – whether it is gender, culture, language.
– Your company culture is primordial: if you value work life balance, you will probably attract more women than usual.
– Startups are not for everyone – it is not for every woman and not for every man either.
– Women are taught not to be aggressive and not to speak up too much.
– It is important to encourage more women to find a problem they want to solve, launch their idea, and run with it. What would you do if you were not afraid?
– Women systematically underestimate themselves. It is called the impostor syndrome.

Now let’s have a look at SEA markets and users:


– 60M internet users: 24% of Indonesians have access to the Internet.
– Mobile phone ownership in Indonesia is 80%.
– 50% of mobile phones sold in Indonesia cost below USD 50.
– Feature phones still dominate in Indonesia.
– 30M 3G connections.
– Only 5% of Indonesians own a PC or laptop.
– Indonesia is known because of its passionate users: they don’t just follow trends, they create them.
– 12% of global tweets come from Indonesia.
– It took India and Brazil 3 years to catch up with Indonesia when it comes to Facebook.
– Indonesia: 60M bank customers: 25% penetration only. 16M credit cards (3-4% penetration).
– Land of opportunity: 55% of Indonesians are below 30, middle class is growing exponentially.


– 104.2% Internet penetration in South Korea.
– 87% of Korea teens spend nearly 1 hour per day (average 54.4mins) on social network gaming.
– Kakao Talk reached 84M users in 3 years.
– Kakao’s revenue is 45M and it is mainly coming from Korea; monetization is starting in Japan and they are planning to replicate the paid model in South-East Asia.


– Vietnam is potentially a goldmine but a very hard and tricky market to figure out. Running a startup in Vietnam is tough because it is hard to find quality people and having the right mindsets and the right culture. High valuation for a Vietnamese startup is rare.
– Vietnam’s population is 90M, internet penetration is 35% (higher than global average).
– 95% of people aged 15-24 have access to the Internet.
– 73% of Internet users are under 35.
– 66% of netizens are using the web everyday.
– 130 million mobile subscribers in Vietnam.
– Large proportion of Internet users are still using desktops in Vietnam.


– GameSofa is a promising Taiwanese startup, making 30M USD a year.
– Cap structure restrictions, payments, & late adoption of 4G are the 3 problem entrepreneurs in Taiwan face.

And if you are interested in Thailand, here are the minutes compiled by TechinAsia, Startup Asia organizer.

In summary, a great event with some very interesting insights about SEA. See you next year Startup Asia!

Image source: TechinAsia

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