Week in Review: Startups need to broaden their horizons

  • Highs and lows of the year: What about the technologies?
  • Need better bridges between tech and business thinking

Week in Review: Startups need to broaden their horizonsI WAS getting ready to flog a dead horse – again – but two articles Digital News Asia (DNA) ran today gave me pause.
 
My frustrations started as I was reading my colleague Karamjit Singh’s announcement about our upcoming DNA-TeAM Disrupt panel session, which will discuss the highs and lows of this past year in the technology ecosystem.
 
Given that this month’s session is being hosted and sponsored by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), it is understandable why the panel discussion, as framed by Karamjit, would be centred on the startup space.
 
But I also wondered, what if it was going to be hosted at a more neutral venue? Would the participants and Disrupt audience still only care about the startup space?
 
After all, the technology ecosystem compromises more than just startups, and any discussion of the highs and lows of this year in tech should also include technological breakthroughs, industry setbacks, and even policy moves by the Government.
 
Does your typical startup in Malaysia care that the Government this year announced the formulation of two national frameworks, one for the Internet of Things (IoT) and the other for big data? That the country might even appoint a national chief data scientist?
 
These are two technology trends that have been pretty much the buzzwords in the greater ecosystem this year, but you don’t hear about many Malaysian entrepreneurs exploring the possibilities, except for outliers like 1337 Ventures founder Bikesh Lakhmichand, who believes that IoT is going to be a goldmine for app developers, he told our first Disrupt discussion of this year.
 
I was all set to rant again about how too many ‘tech startups’ in Malaysia were about services, and not enough about actual technology, when I read the two articles I mentioned above.
 
The first is by long-time entrepreneur and Acronis founder Serguei Beloussov, who argues that startups have to stop thinking too much about technology, and think more about business. Stop dreaming about changing the world, and think about building a good business, he writes.
 
That’s good advice, but it also comes from someone with a real passion for technology breakthroughs, since he has explored, through other ventures, quantum and even teleportation technologies.
 
The second is from our own Edwin Yapp, who covered a Gartner briefing where one of the firm’s top analyst talked about how businesses should adopt startup culture while retaining the traditional way of doing IT. Gartner calls this ‘bimodal IT.’
 
Neither article disproved my point on the need for more technology in our tech startup space, but they did make me realise the need for the two worlds – business and technology – to bridge a mindset gap.
 
Having great technology is not going to help you survive, as we have seen from companies like NeXT Computing, Cray and even Silicon Graphics, if a solid business model cannot be built on it – a model that can survive the vagaries of the market.
 
Yet having a great business model with very little technology built around it is very ho-hum – you might as well be manufacturing bolts, to turn around Beloussov’s example.
 
I figure you need both.
 
Editor’s Picks:
 
Telcos long way from harnessing full potential of analytics: Cisco
 
Thailand, Indonesia smartphone growth hampered by cost: BuzzCity
 
Media habits: Enter the binge-watching Malaysians
 
With 10mil downloads, Between eyes platform play in 2015
 
Designers and developers, living together … what next?
 
Sean Seah’s long and winding road … upwards
 
BMC Software gears up in pursuit of APAC opportunity
 
 
Previous Instalments:
 
Week in Review: Does Anthony Tan have the chops to win the war?
 
Week in Review: Will funding floodgates open in 2015?
 
Week in Review: Asking the right questions
 
Week in Review: Is Malaysia ready to welcome them?
 
Week in Review: Execution always trumps ‘me too’ model

 
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