A number of Asian start-ups are giving their larger global competitors a run for their money. Notable successes include ride-hailing service Grab, e-commerce group Lazada and real estate company PropertyGuru, which have fought off more established competitors to achieve rapid growth across Asia.
The secret of their success seems to lie in finding the right combination of local flavour, innovative breakthroughs and strategic partnerships.
Asian business and brand strategist, Martin Roll, points to common characteristics of successful start-ups.
"Whether East or West, the anatomy of a start-up is really the same – it's about disrupting, it's about newness, it's about arbitrage," says Roll, an 18-year resident of Singapore, and adviser to Fortune 100 and family businesses. He also suggests that local knowledge and being agile are key to success.
"Grab, Lazada and PropertyGuru were all early movers who had excellent timing, were well-funded and helped turn traditional industries upside down… For locals, there's a sense of 'yes, Asia can do it', and that instils a sense of local optimism and patriotism too.”
Different players we spoke to in the start-up scene point out that among the myriad success factors that go into making a local player successful on the regional or global stage, three stand out as mandatory.