Emaze kicked off its PITCHUP ’15 contest recently. Submissions from around the world have exposed surprising hubs of startup activity in Indonesia, Cameroon and the Philippines – and what they prioritize
Emaze, the next-generation presentation making software, kicked off its PITCHUP ’15 contest on Friday, March 20, garnering significant local and international attention. A sampling of the submissions has exposed surprising hubs of startup activity in Indonesia, Cameroon and the Philippines, and uncovered noteworthy industry trends. While the U.S. leads the way with over 33% of all submissions, followed by Israel and India neck-to-neck with just over 14% of submissions each, Europe has shown underwhelming representation with only 15.3% of all submissions.
This may be linked to the language barrier that marks a significant marketing disadvantage for European companies networking with the heavily American-centric, predominantly Anglo-oriented Israeli startup scene, as well as Israel’s limited presence in EU tech networks. Pitches in expected sectors such as e-commerce, FinTech, mobile apps and online directories where to be expected, but were outweighed by a surprising number of pitches in newer industries including EdTech and healthcare.
For a full account of our pitches, check out this infographic:
An emerging, socially conscious tech scene in Cameroon
While it is widely thought that the business environment in the African continent is largely unsuitable to technological innovation, this is only partly true. Startup activity is on the rise in Africa and has been responsible for a number of successful startups in the past decade.
Despite the technological hardships that still plague large swathes of Africa, we were excited to see a slow but steady trickle of presentations from the African entrepreneurial landscape submit to PITCHUP ’15, including a surprisingly high amount from Cameroon. The bulk of pitches feature social entrepreneurship business models relying to some extent on government subsidies. One submission that particularly stands out is EDUCAB, an EdTech venture in its seed stage intending to use virtual studies as a means of making primary education accessible in the more remote parts of the country where enrollment in elementary schools is far lower than in the urban centers.
Indonesian startups have healthcare on their mind
Asia has seen a dot-com explosion in the past few years, mainly due to higher ownership of mobile and tablet devices in the region. Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia, has played a pivotal role in the region’s tech boom. However Indonesia is a curious case in its capacity to foster startup activity within its borders. On the one hand, 50% of Indonesia’s 260 million population are under the age of 27, making for a prime consumer demographic for startup services. On the other hand, Indonesia is home to an exhaustive array of languages and cultures, posing many integration challenges for content-driven products.
Indonesian submissions to PITCHUP ’15 disclosed a growing interest in healthcare. “The government initiated a universal healthcare plan last year, but it will have a very hard time implementing this reform in poorer communities. With some 2,000 hospitals that service a population of over 2.5 million, they will need something in the way of what we are offering – a mobile hospital device,” said Fikri Wicaksono, Co-Founder of HeaLink. HeaLink is a bootstrapped startup hoping to raise enough capital to implement its software in local medical centers. To date, it has garnered the interest of four public hospitals with which they intend to collaborate once primary funding is made available.
The Philippine startup scene is diverse – they just need the capital
Another substantial player in the Southeast Asian tech arena, the Philippines has all but maximized its potential. With the country’s largest telecommunication providers effectively monopolizing the local startup scene, owning the incubators and accelerators responsible for seeding over 80% of Filipino startups, it is a difficult climate for many startups. “The startup arena in most parts of Asia is still in its infancy. There is so much startup capacity in the Philippines. Many foreign educated professionals come back to the Philippines and have ideas for startups. Also the population here is ready for a technology boom. But funding opportunities are still hard to come by,” explained Arnulfo Fajardo, Founder of the Taro(laing) Project, an agriculture venture in its seed stage aiming to cultivate the nutritional superstar that is the company’s namesake – a fast growing and highly durable plant native to the Northeastern part of the country.
Submissions to PITCHUP ’15 from the Philippines have varied dramatically in industry, funding level and business model, suggesting precisely the lack of domestic funding opportunities for companies overlooked by the country’s two reigning incubators. From a bootstrapped EdTech learning app named “Kouki Saves the Day” to the seed stage KAAGAPay, a capital-raising platform for third sector institutions, startups are left to fend for themselves in a limited ecosystem overwhelmed by smaller incubators offering low capital and high ownership/equity rates. Most heard of the competition by way of being familiar with the emaze brand. For them, the opportunity to get their idea in front of foreign investors is an appeal far greater than the cash prize.
The views expressed are of the author.
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