With over 150 entrepreneurs, business leaders and industry champions featured and interviewed by us, we have had some amazing insights. We have compiled some 8 of the best for now and included them in this list for your reference.
The best entrepreneur insights from 2022
- Lance Pormarejo, A-Labs Executive Director
- Terng Shing Chen, CEO of SYNC PR
- Murli Ravi, Co-Founder of Tin Men Capital
- Paul Ong, Partner at InnoVen Capital
- Pedram Assadi, Chief Operating Officer at foodpanda
- Craig Dixon, Co-Founder and General Partner of Accelerating Asia
- Felix Tan, CEO and Co-Founder at Skilio
- Anurag Bhalla, the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Outsized
Here are the insights from just a few of the amazing entrepreneurs who have shared their thoughts on our platform.
Lance Pormarejo from A-Labs
Lance candidly discussed the crypto and Web 3 landscape in The Philippines and the challenges the ecosystem is currently facing.
The challenges of the Filipinos in space I believe are no different from the challenges encountered by our foreign counterparts such as regulations, bad actors in space, etc. However, we do believe this is stemming from the fact that Web3 is still a young technology where non-crypto natives are still having a difficult time defining what Web3 is about. But what’s encouraging is that despite all these, the Philippines is in the top 10 global rankings when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption and is higher than the global average when it comes to bitcoin and Ethereum ownership.
Back in 2021, the surge of users on the Metamask wallet rapidly grew where the Philippines represented 20% of its monthly active users translating to 2,000,000 Filipinos. A fact that we cannot overlook, and have to build on.
Terng Shing Chen from SYNC PR
Terng discussed the challenges facing business growth in Malaysia and what the supporting ecosystem gets wrong in supporting the growth.
Startups form a growing niche of businesses that have the budget to spend but are looking for solutions that cater to actual problems that they face right now. Most agencies don’t look at the current situation to adapt to the issues or overcharge to cater a good solution that immediately puts it out of range for most startups.
Because of this, we see a lot of opportunity, but at the same time, there is also a lot of education required to help bring the industry forward. There is a problem with the infrastructure as well, which in this case, refers to the media, social media platforms and channels. It isn’t as developed as other markets, but we still see a lot of potential in the market.
Murli Ravi from Tin Men Capital
Discussing the industries that have the most potential in Southeast Asia, Murli broke away from the conventional to talk about the backbone of the region’s economy in his interview with us.
The backbone of Southeast Asia’s economy is made up of traditional industries such as maritime, manufacturing, agriculture, hospitality, construction, logistics, commodities and many more. These industries are increasingly adopting digital technologies starting from a low base. Leaders in these industries understand that even a small percentage increase in asset utilisation enabled by technology can be worth a lot in absolute dollars. Our portfolio companies have already shown how these opportunities can be unlocked.
While this trend was already taking shape when Tin Men launched in 2018, the imperative for enterprises to digitize accelerated sharply during the pandemic.
In general, technology is a deflationary force as it increases productivity and reduces costs, a well-established trend observed over decades across several economic cycles. This means that customer demand for enterprise software increases relative to other expenses during inflationary periods, such as the one we are in right now.
Paul Ong from InnoVen Capital
Paul from InnoVen discussed the rise of venture debt in the region and how businesses need to be creative when looking for alternative funding routes.
The rising interest rate environment has led to a valuation shock in the financial markets, which in turn has made private market investors more cautious about the valuation levels that they are currently investing in. We believe that the pace of investments has started to slow down, largely due to investors displaying a more risk-averse behaviour as well as being wary of not overpaying. A lot of companies that have sufficient capital on hand are also postponing raising funds given the market conditions.
Yet, there are many companies out there who still need to raise money for runway extension, and some companies in market leadership positions may seek to build a war chest of capital to capture any business opportunities that may arise in the current climate. We have observed that there has been a lot of capital that has been raised for Southeast Asian investments that have not been deployed. Hence, although the region is not immune to the global macroeconomic situation, we believe that investment activity will still continue, possibly more in the form of a convertible note and debt structures.
Pedram Assadi from foodpanda
Pedram discussed the mistake some businesses make when looking at Asia and how there are so many unique challenges and opportunities within the region.
While Asia is often ‘grouped’ as a region, all our 12 markets are very diverse. The way customers, riders and vendors use the foodpanda is also different, so it’s especially important for us to keep in tune with what the ecosystem in each market requires.
In addition, there is also a difference in individual market maturity and saturation. For example, Singapore and Taiwan are further ahead on the digitalisation maturity curve and have more tech-savvy customers contributing to tremendous growth rates. On the other hand, there are other countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh that are earlier in their maturity stage for digitalisation of food delivery. However as they have a large population of more than 150 million, there is great market potential and we are doubling down our investment efforts for the long term.
In order to serve a diverse set of markets, we have harnessed a hyper-localised approach to fully empower local teams and decentralize local decisions which have proven to be a great factor in our success in Asia. Adapting to the local markets has allowed us to be closer and more relatable to our partners, customers, and riders.
Craig Dixon from Accelerating Asia
In our interview with Craig, he shared how his investment philosophy matches with their higher goal of creating positive impacts through their investing.
In the markets we operate in, we’ve invested in startups across verticals including fintech, agritech, eCommerce and transport – all of which have a positive impact on the communities they operate in and are addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This includes startups like KaryaKarsa, an Indonesian platform that enables creators to distribute, monetise their work and generate diverse income streams. Then there’s a range of impact startups in the smart city and energy space such as EnergyLite which enables companies to install zero-cost and zero-hassle solar energy for their operations.
Gender Lens Investing is one component of impact investing and it’s not just about female founders but also startups that address gender issues. We were an early investor into BeamAndGo – a payment and digital marketplace that empowers Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), mainly women by giving them control over how their remittances are spent by their families back home. We’ve also invested in a range of female founders like TransTRACK.ID closed investments from Cocoon Capital and the Indonesia Women’s Empowerment Fund. Actually, our portfolio includes 40% female co-founded companies, around 4X the average or VCs globally.
Felix Tan from Skilio
Felix used his own personal experience as well as his users’, to provide some much-needed insight into the challenges facing the newest generation of the workforce.
One of the common pitfalls that businesses get wrong in the hiring of Gen Z is the lack of transparency in what they will be doing and learning in the role they are hired for. Gen Zs have a strong motivation to prioritise skills and personal developments in the company that they work for. It does not help that the traditional job description today is poorly crafted to demonstrate the skill sets required or will be developed as part of taking on the role.
In fact, our research with Gen Z jobseekers showed that 80% of them are unsure about the skill sets that employers are looking for from their job description. One Gen Z jobseeker mentioned that “job description might not be all-encompassing of what skills are really required”. In fact, the ASEAN Youth Survey done by the World Economic Forum found that youths attach high value to skills development and training when applying for employment.
Therefore, we believe that one of the key factors being overlooked by businesses engaging the Gen Zs is the clear articulation of the exact skills required for each job position and what kind of skills they will develop as part of embarking on the role.
Anurag Bhalla from Outsized
With the current economic struggles and hiring issues, Anurag’s words from 2022 still ring true about freelancer growth in the region.
First of all, I’d like to say that we have not seen any signs of a decrease in demand, quite the contrary. At least in the skilled segments where we operate, companies are crying out for experienced professionals who can help them execute key growth and efficiency initiatives in a flexible way.
In uncertain times, companies are reluctant to add fixed costs in terms of permanent employees and there are often hiring freezes rolled out during times like these so instead opt to hire talent on a flexible / project basis which shifts their cost base from fixed to variable. Big businesses still need to continue to execute their growth and efficiency strategies but it is critical to do this in a way that provides the necessary flexibility to adapt and pivot in what continues to be a volatile political, social, environmental and economic landscape.
The organisations that win will be those that are able to remain resilient within these conditions and a key characteristic that drives resilience is agility.
Please note that the responses have been edited for clarity and grammar.