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Startups in Asia Pacific - Statistics & Facts

Startups are companies with an innovative business idea and a high growth potential, often operating in a young or non-existent market. Once established, they are generally no longer considered 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 theoretically startups can penetrate every sector that meets the criteria of innovation and scalability, in reality, most startups fall 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 without having an office space. This flexibility has caused the rapid emergence of startups worldwide, with the term “startup” becoming one of the most used expressions globally. Although startups have been predominately associated with the U.S. and other Western regions, the Asia Pacific region has begun to build a reputation as being home to a number of powerful and successful startups. As such, the Asian business ownership rate has been increasing steadily, strengthening the region’s position within the startup market.

The Asia Pacific countries have begun to showcase their business style with an increasing number of successful new businesses. Interestingly, one of the most successful new companies in China is startup "Ant Financial", which has already been funded with over 19.14 billion U.S. dollars. In 2018, China's internet sector had 45 unicorn companies (startups with a value of at least one billion U.S dollars). India also followed China’s success rate, in which the business-wide funding of startups amounted to 13.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. This trend is also mirrored in other Asia Pacific economies. In Southeast Asian countries, new companies are founded on a daily basis. Grab, Gojek, and Tokopedia are just some of the local startups which have already earned the title of a unicorn. Thus, they are able to compete on an international level.

Ultimately, it is not the country itself, but rather the demand on the market and the business environment, which 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. The Ease of Doing Business Index by the World Bank Group compares countries annually according to criteria related to different market entries and company operations. In Asia Pacific countries, Singapore has always ranked highly of the ASEAN states. Furthermore, 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 motivations for founding a startup.

Despite the success of Asia Pacific, the region is still made up of lots of diverse economies, each country with different levels of progression. In this way, it takes some countries very little time to start a business, while business creation is time-consuming in others. However, the startup situation in the Asia Pacific region has been greatly impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus. Many companies have reported job cuts and revenue losses due to the crisis which the outbreak has caused on the economy. If the startup industry is to recover from the effects of COVID-19, then it is likely the Asia Pacific region will emerge stronger in the startup industry, due to its increased digitization throughout recent years.

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Startups in Asia Pacific

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