Eight notable startup mentors shared experiences and provided support on financial growth, brand building, data protection, and how to scale a business during the 8×8 Global Speaker Series organized by Shanghai-based Chinaccelerator on Sunday. This came shortly after the program revealed the 12 startups that will form its latest cohort, with sectors ranging from software-as-a-service, martech, proptech, gaming, and blockchain.
Startups first have to focus on becoming “investable,” recommended Kal Patel, resident advisor at Oxford Foundry. “It’s about people. You and your team control who you are as a person and how you behave.” The most investable founders are the ones who can create waves that attract people to follow and engage, who have a fast learning curve and impact-driven mission, he added.
Jack Ren, managing director at Eminence Ventures said that strategic thinking should be rooted at the core of every business. When building a product, founders need to think beyond that, about the strategic elements that are required for the business to endure, he explained. For Timothy Yu, founder of edtech firm SnapAsk, it’s about trial and error. “Entrepreneurship is like a shooting game,” he said. Founders grow by adjusting their target and learning from failures.
Investors serve as a backbone to the entrepreneurs, believes Nichapat Ark of Openspace Ventures in Thailand. It’s important for founders to leverage on the network of their investors. They can help with partnerships, fundraising preparation, and hiring. “Form your investor bench wisely,” he said. “Money is not the most important thing, but compatibility, understanding, and having the same belief and vision,” she said.
Celine Chiang, head of content strategy with Booking.com in China, emphasized that localization could be the key to drive growth of cross-border businesses, especially in the e-commerce sector. This includes building communities of key opinion leaders and key opinion consumers, creating hyperlocal content, and designing global websites that are in local languages, user experience, payments options, and customer service.
Rui Ma, founder of Tech Buzz China, believes that startup founders should figure out how to garner media attention early. This can be done by providing background information and context, as well as focusing on product design and usability. The most important point to bear in mind, according to Ma, is to be “very careful” when talking to people outside China, and to think from their perspective. “The same story that works for China most likely won’t work abroad,” she added.
Victoria Hoang, data partner for Bristol Myers Squibb Asia, emphasized that data is the most valuable resource for businesses. Establishing trust with data, particularly cross-border data, is fundamental for her. Hoang advised companies to first ask customers for permission to collect their data, be transparent about the data collection, and be clear about the usage.
The young startups, which are set to pitch their products to a wider audience in a virtual demo day on June 2, hail from Indonesia, India, South Korea, Australia, China, Russia, the US, and Canada. The accelerator offers a six-month program in which selected startups receive guidance, training, and resources from mentors, partners, and investors, as well as an investment of up to USD 150,000 from SOSV and its syndicate partners. The selected startups are:
- Amma, which offers a pregnancy tracker.
- Aro Entertainment, a talent management firm that aims to connect consumers with celebrities and brands.
- Awakening Vector, specializing in helping businesses manage their visual data.
- BizBaz, a financial services platform that utilizes AI to offer a credit score solution in Southeast Asia.
- Data Republic, which enables companies to analyze and share their business data in a secure cloud environment.
- GetCraft, a platform designed for creative professionals and businesses in Southeast Asia looking for work.
- Huviair Technologies, which provides a cloud-based productivity management platform that measures and monitors the construction progress in India by tracking data from drones, laser scanners, and cameras.
- Lattis, a multimodal software platform that enables vehicle operators to create a car-sharing service.
- PouchNATION, which supplies event solutions across the region including ticketing, access control, cashless payment, brand activation, and real-time body temperature screen-monitoring.
- Rocketship, a one-stop mobile app that allows teachers to run cohort-based live online courses and connect with their students by offering features like texting, document filing, and calendar.
- SuperWorld, an online marketplace that allows users to buy, sell, collect, and curate over 64 billion unique plots of virtual land across the world.
KrASIA is an official media partner of the event.