There have been a couple of articles about issues in the Southeast Asia startup ecosystem recently, and I feel the need to join in the party. What I have read so far are the same old points which we have all heard before: People in Southeast Asia don’t take risks, they’re scared of failure, there are not enough Series A investors etc., etc.
To me, I think it all comes down to one big problem: we are just not good enough entrepreneurs. (I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I can be a better one.)
It’s simple, really. Good entrepreneurs build good teams who build good products who attract users who are willing to pay for those products. You want Series A money? There are investors in Asia who will give it to you, but first, prove that you can build a f-ing awesome product. Prove that you can gain traction. Prove that it’s a scalable and profitable business model. (Alternatively, sell a f-ing good dream that investors might buy). If you can’t do that, then no one can help you. Even if there were millions of Series A investors, no one would invest in your shitty startup.
So where can you find these Series A folks with cash in their pockets ready to invest? That’s your problem as an entrepreneur (this is why entrepreneurs need to be strong and resourceful). It’s not hard to find startups who raised Series A or beyond. Some, like MyRepublic, even scraped from 40 investors to raise $10 million. Is this doable? Yes, but only if you have an awesome team and product.
As entrepreneurs, we shouldn’t be looking at the ecosystem, shaking our heads, and saying, “Oh man, this is a fucking mess, ain’t a good place to build a company. Let’s sit at one corner and sulk.” Leave that problem to the bloggers who write about the big picture.
And I admit that the startup ecosystem here does kind of suck; it’s certainly not as rosy as what we read on TechCrunch. But Southeast Asia isn’t short on good entrepreneurs. If you’re an entrepreneur reading this, would you choose to blame the ecosystem or go out there to build a f-ing good product for your target users? I believe we should choose the latter.
Being a good entrepreneur takes time and failures. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, a lifelong journey. The more you do, the better you get. Southeast Asia needs good entrepreneurs and you could be one of them. If you are, you will be facing multiple failures. Get used to it.
I say fuck the problems with the ecosystem. You can’t change the ecosystem but you can set the direction of your startup. The biggest problem that is within control is you, my fellow entrepreneurs.
As our compatriot Mikaal Abdullah said:
It will be the very same entrepreneurs that are struggling with these challenges today that will solve the problem for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
Stay strong.(Image credit)
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