Friday, June 21, 2024

Google exec: Local startups promising but PH suffers from lack of investment

The top Google executive overseeing the startup community in the Asia Pacific region said Philippine startups have great potential but they are hindered by the lack of funds to make them succeed.

Thye Yeow Bok, Google’s head of startup ecosystems for Southeast Asia, South Asia Frontier and Greater China

Thye Yeow Bok, Google’s head of startup ecosystems for Southeast Asia, South Asia Frontier and Greater China, said in a media briefing that the country’s fintech startups are promising.

He said one such example is the local startup Advance, which aims to allow Filipino workers easy access to zero-interest credit through responsible partnerships with their employers.

Despite the record amounts of funding flowing into the greater Asia Pacific region, however, Bok also pointed out that one of the largest obstacles facing Philippine start-ups is the lack of investments in the country’s start-up market.

He noted that many Filipino startup founders often go abroad just to find funding.

Outside of the Philippines, the Asia Pacific startup scene is booming. As of now, there are currently 198 tech unicorns in Asia Pacific, almost 200 startups valued at $1 billion or more. The number is second only to the United States’ 290 unicorns and far exceeds Europe’s count of 69.

“More Asia Pacific Startups are creating original, innovative, and helpful products that are used by people globally,” said Michael Kim, head of Google for Startups at Asia Pacific.

“In particular, Asia Pacific startups are leading the way in super apps. These products are constantly improving the lives of others and we’re seeing really rapid adoption.”

To help fledging startups in the region, Google for Startups shared the five technology trends it sees in Asia Pacific start-up ecosystem and why the region’s startups are well-positioned to capitalize on them.

The trends are: artificial intelligence (AI), decentralized finance (DeFi), e-commerce and finance technology (fintech), health technology (health tech), and sustainability.

  • AI

AI can be found in almost in applications in all sectors — from chatbots to robotics to immersive learning — and is being looked into by the region’s governments, traditional corporations, and startups. Kim highlighted the online metaverse space as one of the anticipated drivers of the next wave of AI innovation.

  • DeFi

DeFi allows individuals, merchants, and businesses to directly conduct transactions by cutting out intermediaries through emerging technologies. It has garnered more attention, especially in Southeast Asia (SEA), where DeFi startups raised $1 billion in equity funding in 2021.

  • Fintech and e-commerce

Asia Pacific is considered a high-growth environment for fintech and e-commerce startups due to Southeast Asia’s widespread adoption of mobile and social media apps, the popularity of influencers, and the innovative methods of online selling gaining traction such as live selling.

“The rise of Asia Pacific super apps like Grab and WeChat and the rapid adoption of mobile payments have really helped propel Asia Pacific into one of the fastest growing fintech markets in the world. And linked with fintech is e-commerce, whose growth is powered by innovation and fintech services,” noted Kim.

  • Health tech

Due to the pervasive effects of Covid-19, health tech has been increasing integrated into healthcare. The rise of Asia Pacific startups centering around health tech were prompted by ageing demographics, rising consumer expectations, and technology innovations.

  • Sustainability

Asia Pacific is the region most vulnerable to climate change and the startups in this area are utilizing cloud computing, AI, and big data to generate greener supply chains, optimize traffic, and track extreme weather disasters.

Aside from the trends, Kim added that Asia Pacific is a prime environment for startups due to the deployable venture capital in the region, the accelerated adoption of digital services due to the pandemic, and the expanding role of startups in Southeast Asia.

“Now, we’re actually seeing start-ups become the pillars of many [SEA] countries’ economies,” said Kim.

Google for Startups derived these five trends from their observations of the startups they assisted through their free startup accelerators, Start-up Academy, and Google Campus programs.


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