How to overcome barriers often experienced by startups in Asia

We are in the midst of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.

Whether it’s giving birth to entirely new industries or revolutionizing existing ones, the startup culture across Asia-Pacific is playing a big role in the finer layers of this development.

Nowadays, however, it can be tough to break through a highly saturated market. Startups that have experienced success in one market can feel challenged when it comes to taking their idea internationally and adapting it to work in new and different markets.

Expanding into new markets

A startup’s success relies on improving the existing scale of efficiency in the market. When deciding to take the business internationally, make sure you pay attention to the following:

Do your research

While it may seem obvious, the number one reason why many startups fail is that there was no market need. Use in-depth analysis of countries and regions to identify the places where your startup could win market share fast and with less effort. 

When you make data-based decisions, you’re more likely to launch a successful product in local markets. Start by examining your target audience, research legal restrictions, calculate the ease of doing business, size up your competition, and estimate your ROI. 

What may seem like an unnecessary expense may be the solid foundation on which to build a global strategy for your startup. It also shows that you have long-term plans, which is exactly what investors are looking for when choosing startups to support.

Be on the lookout for structural help

In many cases, governments and independent organizations are on the lookout for startups with unique ideas and offer various incentives such as tax breaks and funding opportunities if they establish businesses in their regions. China’s attempts at rivaling Silicon Valley led it to invest heavily in startups that changed the game for its tech scene.

Know your priorities

When you run a startup, everything seems vital and urgent for the success of your project. And you want everything done now. That’s why prioritizing is crucial when startups localize. Different types of products and markets means that there is no universal method to follow, however a good strategy is one which defines macro goals and restructures daily tasks in suit. For example, visibility of the product and customer satisfaction are two (perhaps very) important short-term goals. Optimizing daily tasks around macro goals helps achieve them with maximum efficiency and is a natural way of task prioritization.

Start small, dream big

It doesn’t matter if you start out small, what’s important is to get your foot through the door. Have a plan for how you want to grow and use the opportunity to study the market and your competitors. You will often end up learning more about your customers and will be able to fine-tune your product to their needs. 

Even if you start small and going bit-by-bit, if you keep international expansion and localization in mind early on, it will save you more trouble in the long-run and you won’t need to reinvent the product when fully taking your business to new markets.

Look for local partners

Making use of partner businesses can help alleviate the pressure of starting from scratch when entering a new market. In addition to providing key insights into the local market, they could help your brand grow through association, provide critical revenue streams, and potentially add on beneficial services to the original product.

Localizing the business model

Once you’ve established a foothold in a new market, you can focus on localizing the business model and further adapting it to the markets needs. 

Understand the demographics

In a fast growing consumer market like Asia, it’s common to look at the market as one with a rising middle class. While this is true, many more markers such as ageing populations, filial structures, and cultural quirks combine to create a variety of purchasing habits and consumption patterns that are uncommon in other parts of the world. 

Whether it’s through adding a localized flavor to an international restaurant chain or providing auxiliary services on a ride-sharing platform, understanding these demographics puts you in a better position to create products that solve genuine problems, and create better delivery systems that are most convenient for consumers to access and use. 

Be agile

Startups and fast-moving businesses prioritize agility above all, to be able to keep up with the evolving needs of their consumers and the changing tides of markets and new innovations. The great news here is that localization doesn’t necessarily slow fast-moving businesses down. 

To do so, make sure that you maintain the same agile processes and mindset when you implement your localization strategy. Startups that have the proper processes in place will likely be more successful in localizing their product.

Measure success

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are crucial to determine whether your investment yields the desired results. Is your current strategy working and do you want to continue going down that path? Or maybe it’s time for another round of funding.

About Yoan Kamalski

Yoan Kamalski founded Hmlet alongside his long-term friend and business partner Zenos Schmickrath to address the pitfalls of sharing a living space with others, and providing a housing solution where people can flourish and grow. Yoan believes that today’s mobile workforce is looking for a curated place where they feel empowered to reach their full potential. This philosophy has driven the success of Hmlet, in which Yoan was recognised by Forbes as part of their 2018 ‘30 under 30 Asia’ list.

hmlet.com 

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