[InnoVEX FORUM 2022] What Startups Need for Growth and Expansion

 2022-08-24 By: InnoVEX Team

Startups can bring innovations and developments that are in demand by not only the individual users, but organizational users as well. However, innovation is not a static process and its dynamic nature demands constant improvements and developments that can overtake the previous iterations. In this regard, interdependence will be an inevitable situation as innovations of all stripes will have to rely on an existing resource to fully take shape.

Titled "Taiwan Startup New Age - What's New for the Next Decade?"; the forum focuses on how startups can thrive from the emerging market trends and scale up their businesses. The forum featured keynote speeches by:

  • Andrew Lu, Partner Development Lead from Global Partner Solutions of Microsoft Taiwan;
  • Laetitia Lim, Co-President of La French Tech Taiwan;
  • Tai, President of TechOrange;
  • Hao Chen, Head of Product at Qubic, MaiCoin Group; and
  • Athena Chen, Senior Strategist of WGSN
  • The forum discusses various topics that can help startups including resources available for them, funding options, tech trends, and more.

    Corporate, Community, and Consistent Resources

    Andrew Lu, Partner Development Lead from Global Partner Solutions of Microsoft Taiwan delivered a keynote on the resources that corporate partners can provide. As one of the largest technology corporations, Microsoft's aim is to empower every person, every organization to achieve more; not just enterprise clients, but also SMEs and startups. While CVCs (Corporate Venture Capitalists) are common, startups need more than just money to survive, grow, and thrive. To create an effective partnership, it is important for the startups to be clear on what they need and for the corporate partner/ investor to be clear on what they can provide.

    As startups have to compete with enterprises, other startups, and even individual experts; they will need funding, resources, training, and partnerships that will be able to provide them with competitive advantage. For corporations who aim to become partners or invest in startups; they can opt in to provide their products or solutions that the startups need or will be able to use. In addition, as corporations generally have considerably larger networks and connections, linking up the startups to these potential partners will also be able to promote a healthy and conducive professional relationship. Other resources such as training will also be important as corporations’ experience can be used as a point of reference or learning point for the startups.

    Laetitia Lim, Co-President of La French Tech Taiwan focused her keynote on the community resources startups and talents might need for global expansion. Depending on the real or potential market size, startups might need to expand internationally or globally sooner than they would prefer. However, this move will need readiness of both internal resources such as differentiation, talents, and expertise; as well as external resources that outside sources can provide. While the traditionally held ideas focus more on funding and technical resources, startups can hardly thrive without a conducive ecosystem; which is more than just about funding, resources, or network scope; but also about ease of movement.

    International growth will give startups access to a larger market, but trying to expand everywhere all at once or only to one new market might not be the best option. Instead, they can try to aim for a common market/ trading bloc. However, it is important to remember that a common market is not a single market so expansion from one bloc member to another will still need further adjustment, but the startup might be able to bypass some entry requirements to other bloc members' market. When expanding to an international market, it is important for startups to act local and think global; as well as finding communities that can facilitate, connect, and share resources, information, etc.

    Global Competition Emphasizes the Need for Robust Ecosystems

    Tai, the President of TechOrange focused on the importance of a robust ecosystem for startups and the economy. Currently global competition has encouraged innovations for companies and countries alike to remain in a leading position or even to overtake the competition. Indeed, the purpose of innovation is to go forward and beyond what currently exists and when combined with entrepreneurship, innovation becomes crucial for long term economic development. Currently there are 2 main ways to increase economic output: by increasing input or increasing efficiency. For a country, increasing input means incorporating more people and talents into the ecosystem so they can generate value while increasing efficiency means to develop and incorporate methods that can generate higher outputs from the same input. To achieve this, startups are necessary as they are the keys of job growth, innovation, and economic resilience.

    The startup ecosystem (particularly in Taiwan) is on an upward trajectory, gaining recognition and achieving noteworthy international performance. However, a systemic strategy is needed to sustain this upward trend. Systemic innovation comes from an intentional and organized process to evaluate opportunities to introduce change; whether internally or externally. The competition is not only between organizations, but also between countries and for countries that currently hold a leadership position to maintain their position; they need to establish a systematic strategy as soon as possible. In this regard, boosting investment only is not enough; but the ecosystem will also need a healthy market environment, supportive legislation, and talent cultivation.

    Hurdles of Innovation Adoption

    Discussing one of the more recent emerging trends; Hao Chen, Head of Product at Qubic, MaiCoin Group shared his insights on innovation adoption. Innovation requires an open mind for both development and adoption as newly developed products and solutions might be completely different from existing ones. In addition, new products and solutions will inevitably have issues to fix just as much as users will have concerns to address; especially if it is based on other emerging tech trends. Innovation as a concept will have various entry barriers; including fees, access, risks, usage, etc. and one of the requirements to address these will be a user friendly approach that can lower the adopters’ entry barrier.

    Some innovations might also need an intermediary technology or platform to be functional. Existing technology will also give a degree of familiarity that might make adoption of new tech less appealing. There are many methods to overcome this challenge such as promotion through well-known IPs or famous brands. This type of promotion can encourage their loyal fans to at least try the innovations and then hopefully will spread organic awareness and positive reviews of the innovations. On the developer side, they need to understand that new innovations come with security concerns and they need to address these concerns or they or their innovation will fade into security. At the same time, it is also important to educate the users on what the new solution or products can do for them. They might not need to understand how it functions, but if it does not bring a net positive, the adoption will have no merit.

    Decoding APAC's Future Commerce

    As one of the fastest growing and developing regions, Asia Pacific (APAC) remains one of the most lucrative and sought after market segments by companies around the world. With recent changes and developments caused by the pandemic, the APAC market has adapted with the times and adopted a stronger focus on innovation. In this keynote by Athena Chen, Senior Strategist of WGSN; she shared her insights on strategies that startups and businesses can consider or adopt to enter the APAC market.

    Currently there is a shift of customer attitude towards an equal parts online/ offline hybrid. A majority of APAC customers now do their shopping through mobile apps which highlights the necessity of local relevant online payment options. At the same time, the growing digital-first shoppers segment also expects seamless shopping experiences which means startups and businesses must adopt a mobile first mindset as the regional popularity of mobile payments is one of the key market differentiators for APAC consumers.

    APAC consumers generally incorporate a social element in their shopping and they might be looking for hyper personal & interactive brand experiences online. With a high social media usage, one of the unique marketing channels for the APAC market are the micro influencers who can lean into the local narratives with authenticity and relatability. Another unique feature of the APAC market is the so-called group buy models where customers buy products in bulk to enjoy benefits/ discounts. The APAC region also has various local only social media so depending on the market, certain platforms might enjoy huge popularity or very low usage. Startups and businesses must do their research and make sure their business is visible on the relevant platforms.

    As the number of APAC youths grow, startups and businesses might also consider tapping into the virtual escapists market. The starting point for this market would be the entertainment sector as startups and businesses would need to invest in virtual storytelling and immersive sales strategy to convert regional shoppers. New technologies like the metaverse will also introduce new user interaction tools to expand access to brands and celebrities. This emerging segment needs startups and businesses to be creative and communicate with their consumer communication including through gamification, interactive livestreams, and other methods that can be adopted from the entertainment industry.

    Watch the forum video here.

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