Startups from Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines were awarded as winners of a pitching contest organized by the ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC) at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on Thursday.
The contest was held on the sidelines of ASEAN Week 2021 online to recognize startup potential, enable innovation, inspire competition and act as drivers of economic growth to create new markets.
The contest offered a platform for ASEAN startups to share innovative ideas, meet potential business partners, engage in capacity building and strengthen ASEAN-Korea startup ecosystems.
Fourteen startups from Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam presented their current status, business models and potentials at the pitching contest and clarified the details asked by evaluators.
The judges asked questions based on business models, cost structure, funding needs, revenues and services.
Filmplace, a film-locations platform based in Singapore; Better team, a human resource service provider based in the Philippines; Bell Society, an Indonesian biomaterial producer; and EQUO, a Vietnam-based sustainability company, were among 27 startups awarded by a panel of six startup experts.
AKC Secretary-General Kim Hae-yong highlighted the role of 27 startups from 10 ASEAN member states working in a wide range of fields from communication, technology and healthcare to education and e-commerce.
He said, this year, unlike in previous years, the AKC organized an acceleration program to build the capacities of ASEAN startups and adapted the program to suit their needs.
Diverse topics ranging from market segmentation, human resource management, and pitching strategies were discussed through lectures, group meetings and one-on-one mentoring, said Kim.
"This new initiative is the AKC’s contribution to bringing the Korean startup ecosystem closer to ASEAN," he said.
According to Kim, in the future, ASEAN startups will play a significant role in their home country by creating jobs and expanding markets.
Evaluators applauded the startups for their innovative, market-friendly and proper utilization of resources when suggesting numerous strategies.
“Your true results come from your business and not this prize,” said Danny Han CEO of Diokos inviting all participants to South Korea.
“All that matters is your business,” said Rezia Usman, Regional Director of South East and South West Asia at Woosung University.
ASEAN adopted various development agendas relevant to startups including the Strategic Plan for SME Development 2016-2025 (SAP SMED 2025) and the Action Agenda on Digitalization of ASEAN MSMEs through Capacity Building Initiatives, said an AKC press release.
ASEAN is a foothold to more than 4,000 startups and had been home to roughly 40 unicorns by Feb. 2022 including Garena, Gojek, Grab, Lazada, Razer, Tokopedia and Traveloka, said AKC.
According to AKC, ASEAN is now a popular investment destination for venture capitalists raising a record $25.7 billion in 2021 by ASEAN startups, fintech and logistics sectors.
“The figure in 2021 is almost three times than in 2020 where startups raised $9.4 billion,” said the release, as well as highlighting the previous investment peak of $14 billion in 2018.
Korea has emerged as an important supporting partner for ASEAN’s startup development efforts as evident by the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Startup Partnership between the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSMEs and the Ministry of SMEs and Startups of Korea, according to AKC.
AKC organized "ASEAN-Korea Startup Week" for four consecutive years in line with the ASEAN region and state agenda. In its fifth installment, AKC is set to focus on capacity-building opportunities for ASEAN startups and offer a networking platform to startup ecosystem entities in ASEAN member countries and Korea, read AKC release.
The contest is expected to enhance mutual understanding of ASEAN and Korea’s startup ecosystem and players, and to aid in the soft landing of ASEAN and Korean startups within the global market.