There’s nothing quite so exciting as working on a startup enterprise; trying to bring your vision to life and setting your entrepreneurial self up for success and profitability. Unfortunately, it’s also the time in a business’s life when there’s no money coming in the door and it’s all going out the door instead. So why not think about moving your startup to Asia? We’ve got some great reasons for you to do so:
The Cost of Living is Way Lower than Silicon Valley
With a small studio apartment going for $2,500 plus in the Valley – there’s no denying that the cost of living can make a serious impact in the costs of getting a business off the ground. While a flight to Asia might set you back up to $1,000 – once you get there, there are plenty of low cost destinations you can settle down in to work on your ideas.
Chiang Mai, Thailand is one of the most popular start up spots and there you can find a decent apartment with reliable Wi-Fi for $300 a month or less. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam offers great central apartments for around $500 a month. Phnom Penh in Cambodia will set you back a similar amount. Other low rent destinations include Ubud in Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Vientiane in Laos and there are many more.
It’s not just rent that’s cheap though – in general food, drink, cigarettes, clothes, etc. can also be had very cheaply throughout Asia. It’s entirely possible to eat a decent meal for less than $1 in most Asian destinations. The food is generally very healthy too.
Work Part-Time While You Get Started
Because your cost of living is lower; you don’t need to earn as much cash to cover your overhead each month. Smart entrepreneurs in Asia often have a remote job that doesn’t require too many hours a day – so they can focus on their project far more than they could back home.
If you can’t work remotely or get freelance work then there’s always the possibility of teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) each country has different rules about who can do this, so you’ll need to read up before you commit to a place, but in many Asian countries a TEFL certificate (you can do one online for next to nothing) will set you up with a 20-25 hour work week in a school.
Access New Sources of Funding
If you don’t intend to go “cheap” on your cost of living then countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore might be the perfect place to look for funding for your projects. In Malaysia, for example, the guys who started GrabTaxi raised an incredible $400 million in their first round and eventually reached $700 million by the time they went to market – valuing GrabTaxi at a staggering $2 billion – that’s a unicorn right of the Asian gate.
Singapore has several government funded tech-startup accelerator projects and if you choose the right local partners; you can access those accelerator programs too.
Wait Longer to Access Funding
When you’re in Asia and you’re money’s going further – it gives you a longer runway before you need to seek funding. There’s an unwritten rule in funding negotiations which says; “if one of you can walk away – they’re the one with the leverage”. If you’re able to get your product to market and show some revenue coming in the door; you have much more leverage than if you’re stony broke and going cap in hand to venture capitalists.
The facility to wait means that you’re likely to hold on to a bigger percentage of the final company and on terms that reflect what you want rather than what your investors stipulate.
Get Access to Amazing Talent – On the Cheap
That low cost of lifestyle translates into much of Asia being very attractive to all kinds of professionals. You can hire developers, designers, writers, etc. for far less money than you would at home because of this. People who come to Asia to work, rarely want to leave Asia and job opportunities are highly competitive.
There’s also an abundance of local talent in some places which is even cheaper still. Vietnam, for example, has become a tech entrepreneurs dream over the last decade with Vietnamese education providing superlative programmers but with a very low GDP in Vietnam; they’re willing to work for much less cash than their Western equivalents. $500 a month will get you a senior developer with decent English language skills in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Become a Better Problem Solver
There are, of course, frustrating moments that come from living and working in a different place with a strange culture and language. These can, however, help you shape the way you approach problem solving throughout your business.
Difficulties make us creative and the more we get creative, the more creative we become. Startups need that kind of constant creativity in order to thrive.
But What About The Downsides of Asian Startups?
This is a great question. Running a startup in Asia is not a guaranteed trouble-free exercise. You may find that visas, for example, are harder to obtain the longer that you stay in a particular destination. You might feel homesick or isolated from friends and family.
You may also find that the absolute top tier of talent is out of reach too. There’s no doubt that places like Silicon Valley exist for a reason – they a haven of the very best of the tech industry with rewards to match.
Finally, there’s also the chance of becoming overly complacent and never getting around to moving things forward. Life is easy in much of Asia and particularly in South East Asia. The weather’s warm. The beer is cold and cheap. There’s a ton of cultural and leisure opportunities over every new horizon. So keeping a close eye on your project and retaining the drive to move forward will be an essential component of thriving in an Asian startup environment.