Startups in Asia Pacific - Statistics & Facts

Startups are companies with an innovative business idea and high growth potential, often operating in a young or non-existent market and usually in need to find a functioning and scalable business model. Once established, they are generally no longer considered as a startup. However, they sometimes do keep their successful startup approaches such as innovation capacity, flexibility, modernity and flat hierarchies, trying to incorporate them in their business culture. Although startups can penetrate every sector that meet the criteria of innovation and scalability in theory, in practice, one can find the most startups in the technology and internet sector. The focus on technology, which means that almost no goods or other infrastructures are required, makes it possible to found startups in basements, garages, or college dorms. As a result, new startups rapidly emerged worldwide and “startup” became one of the globally most used expressions.

Up until now, the term startup has still been mostly associated with the United States, to be precise, with the Silicon Valley. This is likely going to change, since the Asian business ownership rate has been increasing steadily, holding its own share of success stories. For instance, one of the most successful new companies in China "Ant Financial" has already been funded with about 14 billion U.S. dollars. In 2018, China's internet sector had 45 unicorn companies. In India, the business-wide funding of startups amounted to 13.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. This trend can not only be witnessed in major emerging economies such as India and China. In Southeast Asian countries, new companies are founded on a daily basis. To name a few, Gojek and Tokopedia are two local startups who have already earned the market valuation of an unicorn and thus are able to compete on an international level as well.

Ultimately, it is not the country itself, but rather the demand on the market and the business environment, that determines whether a startup can be successful. While the product demand is market driven, various criteria can be used to compare the business environment internationally: On the one hand, there is the Ease of Doing Business Index of the World Economic Forum, which compares countries annually according to criteria related to different market entry and company operation. In Asia Pacific countries, Singapore has always ranked among the leaders over the past few years, followed by South Korea and Australia. On the other hand, surveys among business founders have revealed perceptions on the startup environment in different countries. These surveys do not only give better insights into the working environment, but also show individual drivers for founding a startup. According to one of those surveys, only 28.9 percent out of two thousand entrepreneurs in India said that the reason for starting a business was the lack of alternatives in the labor market.

Overall, new startups will continue to emerge all over the world as a result of the growing globalization and digitization and Asia Pacific countries, in particular, will be the focus area for future startups.

Interesting statistics

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Startups in Asia Pacific

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