This piece first appeared on Ask(Your)VC.
That title isn't clickbait: I'll tell you upfront that I don't believe that there is any such thing as the Next Silicon Valley. Apples to apples comparisons across regions are mostly meaningless. Now that that's out of the way...
I was invited to speak on this topic at dmexco earlier this month, Europe's largest digital media conference and expo, with 30,000 attendees. The discussion was moderated by Terry Kawaja of Luma Partners and my co-panelists were Marvin Liao of 500 Startups and Stefan Gross-Selbeck of BCG Digital Ventures. The conference organisers have produced a slick recording of the session here.
Although I don't believe in notions like the Next Big Thing, I do strongly believe that there is globally unparalleled potential in what I term Emerging Asia.
South and South-East Asian countries are a few years behind Japan, Korea and China, and still have poor broadband coverage on the whole, low digital media spend, low incomes relative to the developed world, etc etc. Yet these same marketes contain in aggregate close to 2 billion of the world's people. Their median age is a mere 26 and the fastest growing demographic is aged 15-24. The top 5% wealthiest people in India have the same aspirations and spending power as the average Western consumer -- while also easily outweighing their Western compatriots in terms of sheer numbers.
People in Indonesia and Philippines are far and ahead the world's leaders in terms of time spent per day looking at screens. Not US users, not Koreans, not even the Japanese come close.
Attitudes to entrepreneurship are changing and no one bats an eyelid at the idea of launching a company in Emerging Asia that targets Western businesses as clients.
The number of VC firms actively seeking to make Series A and B investments in Emerging Asia of between $1 million and $10 million (i.e., well below Silicon Valley norms) is less than 30, possibly less than 20.
Singapore, although small and far wealthier than its neighbours, sits right in the centre of all this activity and is a natural hub for start-ups to set up regional HQs, access financing and, at a later stage, become a venue for exits.
Finally, not all of this is mere potential: over the past 6 or 7 years, we have seen about a dozen technology companies hit the magic billion-dollar valuation mark.
Isn't all this mind-boggling?
It's clear that these markets are massively attractive though not without their risks and obstacles. We discuss some of this in the video.