How Budding Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia Can Survive a Start-up

Two key takeaways from IdeaSpace’s 5th start-up competition

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BY Pauline Mendoza - 20 Mar 2017

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Many dream of becoming the next big start-up in Southeast Asia. Judging from the hundreds of applications to IdeaSpace’s 5th start-up competition, it shows that the start-up ecosystem in Southeast Asia is becoming more robust, with ideas on solving real-world problems becoming more creative and diverse.

IdeaSpace Foundation, a Philippine-based organization that supports innovation, technology development, and budding entrepreneurs, provides an accelerator that enables tech entrepreneurship. “I think we’re a gauge of what problems people want to solve. We’ve seen an increase in applications covering education and O2O (online-to-offline); we’ve seen an improvement in domestic O2O like sourcing carpenters, sourcing cleaning people, addressing domestic concerns, looking for a yaya [babysitter],” says Diane Eustaquio, executive director.

Eustaquio adds that HR solutions are treading a more mature route, with start-up founders beginning to understand that HR solutions should be customized to various targets like SMEs.

“In the first part of our competition, we don’t look at the names and where they’re from. We just really look at how well they state their ideas,” she reveals. Though support for start-ups is present and growing — “Anyone from anywhere can have a chance at joining and having access to the resources of IdeaSpace,” says Eustaquio — the big challenge for budding entrepreneurs remains: How does one build a start-up and survive?

Here are the two key takeaways from this year’s start-up competition:


Be clear about your purpose

According to this Inc. Southeast Asia story, you don’t have a business if you don’t have a ‘true’ problem you are solving. Out of the thousands of start-ups across Southeast Asia, it is crucial that you’re very clear about your cause to get people onboard and believe and support your goals.

It’s the same with a start-up competition like that of IdeaSpace. Eustaquio explains that entrepreneurs should be transparent to themselves and to everyone about why they are building their start-up. “That’s what will make them remarkable,” she states.


Be strongly connected to your start-up’s pain point

Being immersed in the problem you’re trying to solve can make you a better entrepreneur and help you in facing all the struggles and challenges every start-up founder will inevitably experience.

“Some of the start-up founders that we’ve interviewed, they say things like ‘Oh, I really want to join IdeaSpace and I’ve been waiting for IdeaSpace…’ And I think that’s the wrong motivation — to be just a start-up entrepreneur [for the sake of joining a competition]. Your motivation should be driven by the pain point you yourself are experiencing and why you’re doing it. In most cases, the ones who are successful are those who really feel the pain point themselves,” Eustaquio says.