Read our previous article to find out what happened in the startup scene in Southeast Asia in 2017 and how it will compare to 2018.

2018 will be a weird year*. At least for technology and in the startup industry.

*Editor’s note: We try to avoid using vague descriptive terms, but after much discussion, we feel this is the most accurate description we could find.

We have a growing startup industry bolstered by Singapore and Indonesia. Malaysia’s growth remains quite stagnant, while Thailand and The Philippines are growing, but from a rather low base.

But what does this mean for the technology and startups in 2018?

The startup industry continues to grow

Fast growth in certain areas

Bolstered by Bitcoin and ICOs, we see cryptocurrency continue its upwards trajectory. However, what we also see increasing is the number of scams involving ICOs and some form of cryptocurrency.

The China ban didn’t slow it down much and there is enough global interest to sustain the industry even if the world’s most dominant economy isn’t open to it.

Adding fuel to the flames, Litecoin continues to grow, on the back of the demand for Bitcoin. This looks set to blow up in 2018, with fears being raised that if it is a bubble, it will create a domino effect and impact more industries than we realise.

America will look towards Southeast Asia

Silicon Valley will likely set its eyes on the growing startup and investment scene in 2018. There have been forays, but they’re still few and far between. However, startups are starting to target US VCs and US VCs are always looking outward to find new markets.

This is inevitable, but we think 2018 might be the time for it to finally materialise.

More Americans from Silicon Valley have moved over to Southeast Asia to be part of what they see as the birth of a new technology powerhouse. Vietnam, The Philippines, and Thailand are showing fast growth and catching up with their neighbours, Singapore and Indonesia.

the Indonesian startup industry will rise

Go-Jek is Indonesia's largest startup
Image courtesy of Go-Jek

If you ask any person in Southeast Asia which market they want to target, they’ll say Indonesia. However, if you ask them which market is profitable, they probably won’t say Indonesia, because of infrastructure issues, such as internet connectivity, traffic issues, and little government support. This leads to an unstable startup ecosystem.

However, the rise of companies like Go-Jek and constant improvements in infrastructure are helping improve the overall ecosystem and encouraging growth, along with profitability.

What else can we expect?

A rise in regulatory issues surrounding a few industries seems imminent. Industries like HealthTech have continued to grow relatively unscathed, but that looks unlikely as more players start to make waves across multiple markets.

Ridesharing continues to grow despite regular bans and strong lobbying from industry incumbents. With the ComfortDelGro and Uber merger, there seems to be a large clash coming up in the near future, which may decide the future of transport in the region.

China taking over any and all mindshare in most of the region when it comes to innovation and technology. America’s dominance in technology has eroded to a point that even the die-hards in the region are starting to notice. Look at AI and how far ahead China is, compared to anyone else in the world.

Do you have any predictions about what’s coming next for the region? Drop us a comment or send us a message here.

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