Banks open innovation activities in Southeast Asia

Recently, I have been invited to speak at the Fintech meetup in Ho Chi Minh City. The theme of the event was “Bankers and Fintech Startups”, a perfect ground to present the findings of our research on banks open innovation and corporate venturing activities in Southeast Asia.

Open innovation, and more specifically outside-in innovation, refers to corporate practices of including outside stakeholders in their innovation processes. An increasing number of industries is coming to realize that innovation is not confined within their organization boundaries and thanks to accessible knowledge and capitals, outside players could pose serious threats to their businesses.

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Did the bubble burst? A turning point in VC Investments

Recently there have been a lot of hefty discussions about the bursting of the startup bubble, with VCs limiting drastically their investments and activities. It all started with a Report by the National Venture Capital Association showing that in Q3 2015 US VC firms raised $4.4bn, a whopping 59% decrease to the previous quarter and a 33% slowdown from Q3 2014. What happened following to that, was a significant decrease of investment activities in Q4 2015 on a global scale. Now that we have some numbers to work on, let’s take a look whether it is fair to say that the bubble has burst.
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Southeast Asia Fintech accelerators in 2016 – ultimate list

Accelerators play an important role within startup ecosystems, as they provide priceless access to mentors, allow founders to receive expert product feedback, provide funding and offer various opportunities to pitch to investors.

In return for the benefits an accelerator provides, it usually asks for percentage equity in the company (from 5 to 15%) or a chunk of the first seed round. Although this might seems a lot to give away, is important to remember that, according to Gallup, nearly 50% of startups fail in the first five years due to the lack of mentorship and lack of access to markets and potential partners.

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Inventor vs. Entrepreneur – Vertical vs. Horizontal skills

Last week we had a presentation in front of board of directors of a transportation technology startup regarding some work that we have been done on parts of their business plan, in order to prepare them for fundraising in the next couple of months. The board and management team is comprised of inventors of their (patented) engine technology, engineers and first FFF investors (lawyers and business men/women).

What came into my mind, was that in our opinion there was “the innovator” missing in the team, the Apple’s Steve Jobs, the Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg that should have the vision, entrepreneurial skills and mindset to navigate the startup through the early and possibly late stages of its commercialization.

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The Rise (and Fall?) of Food Startups

Raise a hand if in the last two days you have been exposed to advertising of a food related startup of some sort. As I thought… lots of hands shooting up.

Food startups have been thriving over the past years, both in numbers of new companies and in valuation. So, what allowed for this sudden boom, how has this industry evolved and what lies ahead?

Still in 2011, Bloomberg reported about the new food startup industry in terms of new products, drinks, types of food to cater to specific tastes and needs (i.e. gluten free products) or specialty restaurants (mentioning The Melt, a grilled-cheese restaurant concept). The identified drivers for this development are found on a human, less technical dimension. An overall trend towards health consciousness was picking up, and medical research focused more on issues like child obesity, allergies and diabetes. The challenges were still those of any regular restaurant, like health inspections and tax regulations. But the battle for users was not far. Continue reading “The Rise (and Fall?) of Food Startups”

My first experience with the Slovenian startup ecosystem

Two weeks ago I had the great chance to visit Slovenia (for the first time), despite being a border country to both Austria and Italy, in which we have been pretty active.

I was invited by ABC Accelerator in Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia with roughly 300K inhabitants), which was running its second accelerator batch with around 10 startups on topics of Smart Cities & Health, to provide some insights on startup growth focusing on the setup of a multi-channel growth engine. I love this topic and it had us head-down a couple of times with some of our startup clients and tenants.

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4 reasons why I am betting on Southeast Asia and you should too

When 12 months ago I decided to quit my corporate expat job to focus on startups and venturing in Asia, many called me crazy. The simple reason might be that if you are not based in the region, you probably won’t catch the exciting atmosphere we are experiencing in this part of the globe. Markets in Asia are still developing, and that’s exciting in terms of potential new innovations and  business opportunities. Here’s what I believe makes the region hot and my bets for 2016.

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