For entrepreneurs in Asia, the future looks brighter than ever.
More than anywhere else in the world, Asia “has leapfrogged other forms of connectivity” to become what’s called “mobile-first,” said Jesus Martin, chief strategy officer at Microsoft Asia.
“And because Asia has gone mobile-first, mobile has become the platform that underpins innovations and new business models.” Mobile primarily designates the strategy for designing products and experiences for smartphones and tablets.
This is also why the Asian start-up scene is taking off.
“We got the largest share … of investments entering the region,” Martin said, citing the CB Insight report, where Asia leads in global deal share with 36% in Q4 2021.
“The outlook couldn’t be better.”
Martin said that China, India and South Korea see unicorns created “every week”. He was referring to startups worth at least $1 billion.
“In India, SaaS has the potential to become the next trillion dollar business,” he added, referring to software as a service, which allows users to access software through the internet. rather than installing them on a cloud computing platform.
What are the hottest trends in the Asian startup scene this year? CNBC Make It finds out.
1. Great Apps
According to Microsoft, super apps are “really thriving” and are the “new innovation powerhouse” in Asia. A super app is a single portal that allows a user to access multiple services from a single app.
Beyond just hailing a cab or getting food delivered, one can even book medical appointments, take out loans, or pay with a mobile wallet, Martin said.
He pointed to the example of Grab – a super app offering food delivery, transportation and financial services.
“They’re changing the way we live, from making it easier to commute anywhere to ordering food, and they’re pioneering taking a customer’s entire lifestyle online,” he said. declared.
Other popular super apps in the region include WeChat in China, Paytm in India, GoTo in Indonesia, Zalo in Vietnam, and Kakao in South Korea.
“They are the reason we are seeing real change, with more people in Asia having access to products, services, employment, engagement through social media, and more,” Martin said. .
When it comes to games, Asia leads the pack.
According to research firm Niko Partners, Asian gamers will generate more than $41 billion in revenue by 2025, with Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam being the fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia .
Globally, most revenue is generated in China, home to gaming giants like NetEase and Tencent.
Microsoft Asia said cloud gaming in particular is a huge growth area in the region, especially in markets like South Korea, China and Japan. The appeal lies in the ability of users to “play on any device, anywhere, anytime”.
“Asia’s gaming industry remains a global driver, moving gaming across multiple devices. With the number of video gamers approaching three billion globally, Asia-Pacific is responsible for more than half of that,” according to Martin.
Martin attributed this to the growing use of smartphone users in the region.
According to analytics firm Newzoo, five of the 10 countries with the most smartphone users are located in Asia, with China and India leading the way.
As more and more people stayed home during the pandemic, e-commerce sales have seen a massive increase around the world. This trend is expected to continue to accelerate in Southeast Asia this year, said Microsoft Asia.
An estimated 70 million more people – from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – have shopped online since the pandemic began, according to a 2021 report from Facebook and Bain & Company.
“E-commerce in the region is at the forefront of social marketing and customer experience,” Martin said, citing Singapore’s Shopee and India’s Reliance Jio as examples.
“They have built retail ecosystems with the customer at the center offering the best selection, price range, digital payments and logistics that ensure fast delivery.”