My trip to Tokyo has opened my eyes to that ecosystem. Despite very little perceived activity outside of Japan, there's an extremely vibrant scene there. For example:
- there's a public securities market called Mothers, where many of the startups do go and list because of easier listing requirements
- extremely active VCs and CVCs in B Dash, Global Brain, Atomico, Fresco, Rakuten Ventures, Softbank ventures, DNA, Digital Garage and others
- an intense interest in AI and robotics, which is at the forefront topic of most startup ecosystems around the world
- investors that are extremely patient
The reason this ecosystem has traditionally been perceived as closed has been that the ecosystem is extremely self-sustaining. Investors are getting returns through Mothers, they're investing back into the ecosystem through the form of accelerators, and entrepreneurs are building companies. There are virtually no angels - but that's fine because the corporates do early stage activity as well.
Because of the self-sustaining ecosystem, the issue is that there are very few global startups developed. The barriers to global startup development including English speaking ability and the willingness to go abroad. It's no surprise that the entrepreneurs that have global aspirations tend to be the ones that have studied overseas.
After having seen the Tokyo, Seoul, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong startup scenes, I remain passionate about a borderless global startup economy. Individual city ecosystems can survive by themselves, but the global startup ecosystem misses out on the synergies that each city and culture can do together.
In order to develop a borderless global startup economy, we need to have a few elements:
The piece I'm personally passionate about is how to develop this borderless startup economy across Asia. There are cultural similarities across Asia, the ecosystems all have their competitive strengths, and by combining these strengths we can strengthen the entire Asian ecosystem. This is a commitment for the next years here.
Thanks to the founders at ChatCast, Maxwell at BDash, Shin at Atomico, Taka at Digital Garage, and Adit at Rakuten Ventures for great learnings.