Channel NewsAsia

More Singapore start-ups plan to go regional

SPRING Singapore says more Singapore start-ups have been making concrete plans to expand overseas in the past three years, with a strong focus on Asia.

SINGAPORE: More local start-ups have been making concrete plans to expand overseas. SPRING Singapore says this trend was discernible in the past three years, and these companies are focusing more and more on growth within Asia. SPRING says countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have been cited as important immediate target markets for expansion.

One Singapore start-up looking to expand regionally is Packnada. It offers a "wardrobe away-from-home" service, where instead of lugging clothes overseas in your suitcase, you can leave them with the company which will make sure they are delivered to your hotel room, freshly laundered and ready for wear.  

Founded by Johnbosco Ng and Jonathan Lee, Packnada started with S$50,000 in funding from SPRING Singapore. "In terms of travel growth, Asia's definitely the place to be because we're enjoying double-digit growth figures compared to our western and European counterparts, so Asia is definitely the place to do business," said Mr Ng.

Experts note that start-ups usually gravitate toward Silicon Valley and China because of the vast opportunities and consumer base present in those markets. But they say start-ups are increasingly looking towards Southeast Asia for expansion, to take advantage of untapped growth potential.

Mr Edgar Hardless, Chief Executive of SingTel Innov8 Ventures said: "Southeast Asia is obviously a fragmented market, but obviously there are many many opportunities in the different markets around here. And start-ups, I think, here have a natural inclination, especially ones, for example, in Singapore, with a very small domestic market - they already have a natural inclination to want to look at the opportunities in adjacent markets because they realise that ultimately, Singapore alone is probably not a market that can sustain a start-up."

Besides market access, SPRING Singapore said local start-ups are venturing abroad for reasons like fundraising and sourcing for expertise. It supports platforms like the annual Echelon tech conference - to give budding entrepreneurs a chance to network.

"The quality of the companies have been growing very well year-on-year. That's mainly because the entrepreneurs are a lot more experienced. The early-stage venture scene has been growing a lot more mature over the last few years. So you've got good money, backing good people, which results in really good companies," said Mr Mohan Belani, CEO and co-founder at e27.                        

Moving forward, SPRING Singapore is looking out for industry players to help build a network of overseas partners, to assist local start-ups in growing beyond their shores.

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