TechSauce Global Summit 2017 rocked the Asian tech scene at the end of July. I was lucky being among the participants, and was also happy joining the writers team and covering few of the sessions myself for largest tech media outlet in Thailand TechSauce. The article comes up pretty late since lots of things have been happening in my life since then – but it actually gave me a good opportunity to reflect on the event itself and also to gather up all the post-event articles that were getting published over the previous two weeks. So now I can proudly sum up the event and tell what Thai and South East Asian tech ecosystems are all about. On Thailand Thai tech ecosystem has been booming over the previous years. The ecosystem has seen the formation of StartUp Thailand – the central organization uniting the high growth companies, investors and the ecosystem supporters. Startup Thailand 2017 is organized under the theme “STARTUP THAILAND, SCALE UP ASIA” to showcase Thailand and Asia as the world’s leading region for future growth. The organization is even publishing a magazine dedicated to startups and the development of local tech ecosystem: what is means having a startup, unconventional marketing techniques, UX hacks etc. During the previous year’s TechSauce Summit 2016 conference the following startups got featured: AIRPORTELS – a trusted porter company, offering new experiences in traveling with their exclusive same-day luggage delivery and storage service between Airports and Hotels in Bangkok, Thailand. Everex is an innovative FinTech and Blockchain development company aiming to fuel the shift towards a bank-less world. With the team experiencing the world of capital markets and banking for a few years, the team saw the many flaws in the system and the need for change towards digitalized assets. Finnomena is the largest investment content platform in Thailand. Introducing themselves as Thailand’s leading financial gurus, they advise on the fundamentals of financial investments, portfolio management, as well as investment advice and portfolio insights. Giztix– the winner of TechSauce 2016 growth stage startup pitching battle is a logistics marketplace focused on shipping. Currently one of the top 10 in Asia, they have achieved 150k US$ transaction value, with a said 15% growth on a month-on-month basis. All of the startups above did continue to grow over the year, and some of them showed up again on TechSauce 2017 event. Thailand’s tech companies have been largely focused on fintech, logistics and mobility industries – however other sectors are growing fast too. TechSauce Global Summit 2017 The gig started even before the actual conference day. It’s an amazing practice making the roadshows around Asian capitals – inviting the local startup ecosystem members for the event and organizing pitching competitions. The winning startups got a chance to get a booth at the event and take part in the final pitching competition. That’s an amazing way not only to make more sales of the tickets – but also to bring over startups from different countries and therefore create more dynamics between the countries and industries. The conference featured 10 tracks: Accelerate Corporate Digitalization Digital Transformation FinTech Fusion Forwarding FinTech Main Stage Scaling Platform Tech Showcase UrbanTech Venture Capital The overall atmosphere around the place had been very focused and organized, calmer than on RISE Hong Kong for example where the number of participants was twice higher and therefore created a certain overflow of people around. TechSauce was energetic indeed, but also quite artistic, up to the point and focused more on making sure that the participants have the space and the social incentives like the epic ending After Party – which all helped to build real business and human relationships. Global Corporate Venture Capital “Is Corporate Venture Capital a science or an art?” – that was the question of the panel on global corporate venture development. As Paul Ark enthusiastically expressed, regarding his experience working with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) to collaborate with & foster FinTech startups: “You either disrupt us or enhance us; people working in the bank will not disrupt technology to make their services innovative.” He then explained that the corporate structure can make CVC their own worst enemies. So his advice for CVCs is to invest in startups that can enhance the company, add innovative ideas to their platforms, and new technologies that they didn’t have before. You can read the full article covering the panel on TechSauce. Sustainability And Change “KP has realized a trend: a variety of technologies developed for the consumer have matured and are now being applied to traditional industries. According to Porter, while there is a move toward massive digitization of traditional industry, two-thirds of GDP globally has yet to be digitized and presents a great opportunity.” Recognizing this opportunity, KP created a separate fund, G2VP, to invest in green technology for industry. Porter summed up its mission: “We invest in exceptional teams applying emerging technologies to traditional industries. Sustainably.” He also outlined five specific elements of the mission: Primary goal: generating outsized returns Management teams are critical, and we back the best Application, not invention Cherry-picking the best combinations and evolutions of scalable technologies, and Networks in industries that comprise over half of the global economy He added that environmental sustainability begins with economic sustainability. In transportation, Porter and his team have forecast a dramatic change with the development of sharing economies and autonomous vehicles. Rather than a 4% utilization rate for cars which are independently owned, at a cost of $1/mile to operate, and more than 1 billion cars worldwide — G2VP foresees a future where utilization rates could increase to 40%, at a cost of $0.20/mile to operate shared autonomous cars, and a 90% reduction in vehicles globally. Read more on TechSauce. Survival In The Ecosystem Competition Between China And SEA The lasting impression form the discussion was: “Start-ups should assume that China is here to crush you. They have the capital; they have the talent. It’s always good to assume that they will come and fight you and dominate the market.” Southeast Asian markets can benefit greatly from Chinese investment and the larger economy is set to grow exponentially. The people who may suffer are start-ups, however with deep evaluation, preparation and obtaining a unique or dominating stance in their specific market, they should see a harmonious collaboration with China, instead of an all-out war. 3 Steps to Digital Transformation The panel featuring speakers from GE, Ananda Development, SCG and PwC focused on how they understand this digital area and how are they are fostering change from within. #1: Accept that ideas will fail The leadership team must “buy in” to the idea of taking risks (even if these could cost you a million dollars). It also means fostering a culture that “allows people to really fail without punishment,” explains Ananda Development’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Chet. #2: Keep it fast & simple SCG’s Dr. Joshua also highlighted that big companies like to making things well planned, but in the end keeping it simple is fundamental to being agile. Test and learn, he advises. Also, when dealing with failure, your speed to turn around and pivot is critical, states Alvin from GE. #3: Put the customer first “If you are gonna do it, you gotta put customer first,” concludes Ben from PwC. GE’s Alvin adds to this point, saying that you must foster a mindset of curiosity and simplicity around your business, where curiosity means that “the bigger ecosystem is smarter than you.” DNA: How InsurTech And MedTech Come Together Only 4% market penetration of insurance products in Thailand proves that the market itself presents a huge opportunity. Instead of cost-support, the insurance industry has realized the need to move into prevention, enabling people to be healthier since it’s in our direct interest. Muang Thai Life Assurance has been one of the leading insurance providers in Thailand. And we’d identified one dramatically disrupting healthcare innovation that could solve the above-mentioned problem – DNA testing,” shared Nadia, who’s been leading the innovation center since its founding in 2016. Read more on how DNA testing is disrupting the world – and the insurance industry. How True Money quickly scaled to 60% of SEA How True Money scaled its fintech e-payments business in SEA? Over 60% of consumers in SEA do not have a bank account, despite over 60% smartphone penetration and a population that skews young (over 70% under 40 years old). This poses a challenge for e-payment service providers in the region, as the lack of a bank account means they are unable to access a large swathe of digital money services. One of the main reasons True Money has succeeded in the SEA market is thanks to physical payment stations (such as the 7-11 ‘Counter Service’ options in Thailand), which are manned by specially trained ‘agents’ who perform the same transactions available on the True Wallet mobile app in a physical manner. Conclusions TechSauce Summit was an amazing event this year. It was the first time for me to visit Thailand and Bangkok – and I am sure I am going to be back soon. Local startups ecosystem has proven to be extremely vibrant and full of bright founders driving it. Will I be there for TechSauce Global Summit 2018? I definitely hope so.