#Asia China is 3-5 years ahead of Southeast Asia: Harry Wang


The Founding Partner of Linear Venture tells Echelon Thailand attendees what he thinks about Chinese investors, entrepreneurs and the market


L-R: Harry Wang, Founding Partner, Linear Venture and Kevin McSpadden, Correspondent, e27

China is three to five years ahead of Southeast Asia, says Harry Wang, Founding Partner, Linear Venture, in a fireside chat moderated by Kevin McSpadden, Correspondent, e27.

The discussion, held at Echelon Thailand in Bangkok, revolved around how Southeast Asia can learn from China, and whether entrepreneurs in the region should see China as a key market to expand to.

“[It’s an] uphill fight,” says Wang, who opines that from his experience, the Chinese are “more hardworking than” a lot of Americans” (and in this case, we can draw the conclusion that they are more hardworking than any other person).

While it is a good market with 1.3 billion people as of July 2014, China is extremely competitive; newcomers will be fighting with competitors with billion-dollar valuations and massive investments, regardless of vertical.

However, he still thinks that China is the natural next step for founders looking to expand out of Southeast Asia, as opposed to the US. China, he says, shares many similar characteristics with Southeast Asian countries.

Reasons to look at China

One would be density, which promotes certain business models like O2O, a popular buzzword that refers to startups connecting consumers to physical goods or services. A city that is densely populated – compare Beijing to Bangkok – allows for companies to optimise e-commerce logistics at a lower cost, he explains.

Also Read: 4 founders chit-chat at Echelon Thailand about selling their startups

Southeast Asian investors also need to be less averse to taking risks. One way to do so is to look at where the potential portfolio companies are headed, instead of just bothering with the latter’s profit and loss statement.

China used to be like Southeast Asia, but investors soon realised that, in order to build up an ecosystem of brilliant, high-valued tech giants, they would need to loosen their grip when it came to giving money to startups.

According to Wang, who worked at Facebook for a number of years before leaving to advise Chinese tech companies, when China’s economy started picking up, it jumped on the opportunity to adopt mainstream technologies and services available in the US. In the same way, Southeast Asia should look at China and the US to see if there are ways to replicate certain successes in the region.

Disclaimer: Linear Venture is an investor in Optimatic Pte Ltd, the parent company of e27.

Attend Echelon Thailand 2015, taking place on November 26 and 27, from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM with an exclusive after-party that runs till late. Tickets are available for purchase online, use promo code e27Subscriber to enjoy awesome savings. 

The post China is 3-5 years ahead of Southeast Asia: Harry Wang appeared first on e27.

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