Startup Guide, the lonely planet for entrepreneurs, is a series of city-focused entrepreneurial guides on the local startup ecosystem. Each book is packed with useful information and tips, exciting founder stories and insightful interviews with local experts. The guides are created in close collaboration with local community partners to assure a high quality of the content through know-how of the production process and involvement of locals.
We spoke to Anna Weissensteiner, Head of Business Development at Startup Guide and alumni from our Southeast Asia Class of Summer 2018.
Why did you choose to come to Southeast Asia?
At the start of 2018, Startup Guide had already covered most of the European region. We were looking for new opportunities for us to grow our operations, and Southeast Asia was one of the markets where there was more demand and opportunities to grow. Its startup ecosystem is booming and there is a surge in startup investments and funding coming to the region.
Singapore’s startup ecosystem was already a trailblazer in Southeast Asia – Forbes named it the eighth-best place in the world for business and the Global Entrepreneurship Index gave it the highest possible ratings for growth, process innovation, and internationalization.
It was also an opportunity to tap into a totally different cultural scene, to get to know the Asian target customers and markets, which is super interesting for us.
How did German Accelerator support the company during the program?
With German Accelerator, we were quickly connected to the startup ecosystem across Southeast Asia. In the first week of being in Singapore, we were already introduced to the key players in the ecosystem through the launch event in Singapore. Subsequently, our connections grew deeper through business trips to Malaysia and Indonesia, which were set up by German Accelerator and their mentors.
The strength of German Accelerator’s network in Singapore and the region helped greatly with securing meetings quickly with potential sponsors, partners, as well as contacts for production and distribution of the guides. This was especially important for us as we did not have enough connections to get local partners and sponsors for Startup Guide Singapore. Without joining the accelerator, we could not have done it in that short amount of time.
It was also great to have the team from German Accelerator to support us in our marketing efforts – we had the senior leadership from German Accelerator opening doors and sitting in meeting with potential partners to help build up relationships, their marketing team publicizing our kick-off event for the Singapore guide on social media as well as reaching out to local media contacts for our press release.
What advice would you give to other companies participating in the program?
To really be here, understanding and learning the cultural differences in Asia. Compared to Asia, Europe is considered homogenous. Each city is very different; the way you connect with people and build trust in Singapore is a completely different story in Jakarta, and even more so in Japan. It is very exciting, but also very challenging.
I would advise companies considering growing their business in Southeast Asia to join the program and use it as a stamp of trust. To say that we are here in Southeast Asia with the German Accelerator, backed by the German government with a local presence in Singapore – this really opened doors and established a solid starting ground for us.
Lastly, come with an open mind. I was very surprised by the friendships and open sharing of learnings from other program participants in my class as well as from the alumni from the program.
What are the next plans for Startup Guide in Asia?
We have plans to launch Startup Guides across Asia, starting with the first guidebook in Singapore on 14 March. We already kicked off the nominations for our second guidebook, Startup Guide Japan, and are planning to launch in the Asian cities of Bangkok, Jakarta, Seoul, and Tokyo in 2019.