In my podcast, I explore the many different facets of the world of high tech from development to marketing, to sales, to entrepreneurship, all with the goal of collecting key insights on startups for listeners to gain value from this knowledge-sharing. So, what did I discover this week?
Taiwan, the island nation off the coast of China, needs to be taken more seriously as a promising tech hub. Lately, in the news, it seems all that Taiwan is being overlooked for its technology industry and is associated with the geopolitical, hegemonic nomenclature, namely “the country China may invade.” But, when you take a step back from the media mongering and military posturing, what you are presented with is a country with a host of opportunities for tech founders and entrepreneurs that is looking to grow its cooperation globally.
So Why Taiwan?
While a looming trade war and recession have had a ripple effect on Taiwan, Taiwan’s tech sector remains strong. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Google continue to invest heavily in Taiwanese tech markets, both in the IoT and AI sectors. The medical devices sector, likewise, is soaring. Additionally, Taiwan’s cultural similarities to China and closeness to other major Asian markets make it a great place to begin expansion into East Asian markets with a solid geographic foothold.
Moreover, Taiwanese engineering talent and technology innovators make it a desirable hub for growth and expansion. Students in universities and professionals alike are developing new technologies daily. And, with the government’s Asia Silicon Valley Development Agency (ASVDA) trying to raise Taiwan's global market tech share around the globe, Taiwan has not only the ambition but the actual ability, to position itself among the other major tech nations.
“They are thirsty for more innovation, they are interested in bringing it in and are interested in learning from the Startup Nation and learning how we got there and imitating that,” adds Rani Shifron, Founder of Healthier Globe, and Israel Director for the IP² Launchpad Taiwan-Israel Program. The Pacific belt Asian countries are tech-savvy and want to use technology. Working with Israel, in Rani’s own words, is a natural progression. Whether directly investing in Israeli tech or bringing it to the region, East Asian markets are pulling Israeli technology with the hope that through it they will be able to reap the benefits that the Israeli tech sector has over the years.
Taiwan An an Anchor
Having years of experience in international business development, Rani sees Taiwan as a place for growth on unprecedented levels. “Taiwan is probably the easiest market to penetrate,” Rani states, as he likens the Taiwanese situation to one that is much like Israel. Being a nation that is somewhat isolated and needing to fend for itself, the Taiwanese have needed to turn to technology as a means of boosting and securing their own global position. As such, a tech-savvy nation whose government places priority on tech and protects intellectual property rights, much like Israel, combined with a population that speaks good English makes Taiwan a very attractive ecosystem for those looking to expand into East Asian markets. This fact is even better supported when you consider that some of these elements are missing in other nations in the region.
“It’s easy to work with them, and Taiwan in recent years has become the gateway to the Far East,” Rani mentions. “You come into Taiwan and through local partners, it is much easier to enter China for instance, because of the language, and other countries as well such as Japan and Korea.” Of course, just like any market expansion, it is important to work through local partners on the ground who can help you navigate cultural and governmental obstacles you may encounter. Through these partners, companies can better position themselves to take advantage of government-funded tech opportunities or simply find the right partners and customers for expansion. Furthermore, the base a company establishes in Taiwan will be significantly more helpful as companies expand across East Asia.
How Can You Get Involved
“Educating yourself about the market and how to interact in it is the biggest challenge,” Rani emphasizes. The mentality in the Far East is something much different than often Israelis and other Western-minded professionals may be accustomed to. As Rani puts it, business is often not the hard part. It is both sides understanding the other, how they work, and what each side truly wants from the deal. With that in mind, the IP2Launchpad programs managed by i2i Taiwan and Rani created different training sessions to help bridge the cultural gaps on both sides, so that both sides may learn patience and how to understand the other.
In addition, through their launchpad program, Rani helps to connect Taiwanese industries, investors, and companies to their Israeli counterparts. In this way, he not only makes links between both countries, but he proactively finds the best partners for Israeli companies when it comes to entering the market, and vice-versa. Using the launchpad, Rani hopes to deepen the connection between Israeli and Taiwanese tech ecosystems in the long run.
At the end of the day, international expansion is something most companies dream about. Doing it, however, can be complicated. Yet, when you understand that sometimes markets that may not be ‘your first choice’, are actually the better choice, international expansion does not seem as intimidating after all.