Week in Review: It’s ALL about execution

  • Startups without a unique idea or business model need to get it right
  • The importance of execution will be seen in EasyTaxi-MyTeksi- TaxiMonger battle

Week in Review: It’s ALL about executionI WAS at the hospital on Monday accompanying my mom. While working (i.e. I was on the phone), I was interrupted by a student I know who happens to be working on fleshing out an idea he has.
Surprisingly, he asked what were the hot trends and technologies I was seeing in the startup scene in Kuala Lumpur. It is never the young kids who ask me this question, and that is why I was surprised.
I answered instinctively, “That’s a sexy question to ask, but it really should not be asked anywhere in Asia aside from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, as those are the markets where you will probably see leading-edge technology startups.”
This is really the result of the deep technology and innovation culture in those countries.
To wit, at last month’s DNA-TeAM Disrupt session, I met an entrepreneur whose startup, BuzzElement, aims to change the future of marketing research by providing brands with a collaborative platform to capture ideas and actionable insights by leveraging crowdsourcing and big data analytics.
Sounds pretty cool? Well, Hajime Hirose is Japanese and has 18 years of mobile and Internet experience spanning Japan, China, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Interestingly enough, in choosing between Malaysia and Singapore, he has chosen the former to build out his startup.
Back to the student I met. I told him that when your idea is not unique from a technology or business model point, the key then is your ability to execute and hire good talent.
I know ‘execute’ is a deceptive word. What it really means is that our startups have to get many things right (feel free to throw in any acronym you want here, e.g. MVP, etc) and do them better than similar startups in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore or Thailand.
And if you want to nitpick, hiring good talent also helps you ... execute!
Plus, every startup is getting the same advice, just about: Quickly prove your product/ service has traction in your home market; then, raise money and go regional or global.
But if you are a little bit crazier than the rest, and refuse to believe that the failure of your startup to get traction here is because your idea sucks, then pack up your bags and plant yourself in the most idea-receptive country in the world, the United States, and give it a go there.
That’s what Samad Aris and Azreen Latiff did in 2011 with QuickSchools.com. The dynamic duo are back for the Hari Raya festive break and I will be catching up with them for an update of how successful they have been in executing their business. Watch out for that.
But if you have the funding like Rocket Internet, then you are just picking an idea that has traction already in the United States or Europe and not replicating, but executing it, in another market.
Good luck to you if your startup happens to be in the same space the German giant is in!
In Malaysia however, we are in the early days of witnessing how this battle will pan out as the Rocket Internet-funded EasyTaxi has made Kuala Lumpur its South-East Asian beachhead and is up against MyTeksi and TaxiMonger.
Mind you, the copy/ replicate/ execute stage is going to get hotter with Catcha Group’s Patrick Grove busy raising money to launch his US$150-million fund targeting online businesses in South-East Asia. Market talk has it that he has already raised over US$50 million and is closing in on US$100 million.
Grove gave his take on what it will take to build a US$100-million market in South-East Asia, and replicating what works in the West is top of his list when making an investment.
So, are you executing well? No? What’s your excuse for not being able to do so?
Let me end my mid-week ‘Week in Review’ here and wish all DNA readers who celebrate Hari Raya, a wonderful celebration with family and friends – and drive safe.
DNA will still be publishing stories tomorrow and Friday (when you’re online, you’re global), feel free to multitask in between family time!
Previous Instalments:

Week in Review: What’s driving Syed Mokhtar’s telco interest?
Week in Review: Tip my turban to Singapore’s startups
Week in Review: Making the most of what we have
Week in Review: Angel, accelerator, the coolness of coding
Week in Review: Trust, security and standards, or lack thereof
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