Business Advice for Entrepreneurs in Asia

Business Advice for Entrepreneurs in Asia

Here are some condensed pieces of wisdom for and by entrepreneurs in Asia.

“A lot of people complain about yesterday. We have no power to change yesterday. But this very day, 30 years later, is what we can control and decide. Change yourself, take baby steps, and stay determined for ten years. I thank the times of change and everyone's complaints. Because when everyone is complaining, that is your change, an opportunity. It's only in times of chang that someone can be clear of what he has and wants, and what he needs to give up. ” - Jack Ma, in his last speech as CEO of Alibaba.

Mark Chang gave a great piece of advice to once-budding Malaysian entrepreneur, Khai Yin, who then went on and founded “I know only of the ‘kerbau' (buffalo) way, that is, to work hard and wait for the rain.”

If there's an entrepreneur that can talk about being resilient, then that is Firdhaus Akber who founded Streetdirectory and then he was ousted from the company and had to fight a lawsuit. “Entrepreneurs need to understand that they may not be successful on the first time. Most aren't. One needs to learn to pick themselves up and try again when they fail. What I learned from my Hong Kong investors was their nonchalant attitude towards failure. Why be so concerned about failure? If you fall down, pick yourself up and try again. Just keep trying, there's no one who will fail forever.”

What you can learn from Patrick Linden is the value of listening to the right advice: “It is important for entrepreneurs to stay firm to what they believe in. And if you need advice, go to the right people who have been there and done that rather than those who don't fully grasp the reality of entrepreneurship.”

And once you are at the top, you should follow Gou's advice and keep going, keep working hard and never easy up: “I never think I am successful. If I am successful, then I should be retired. If I am not retired, then that means I should still be working hard, keeping the company running.”

You also need to focus on what you think matters most to you and what you love, what you are passionate about, like Le Hong Minh advises you to: “You need to love your work, and work hard at it. to do that, you must pay attention to your priorities at the moment Constantly ask yourself, ‘what is the most important thing to you right now?'”

Even when you do what you love, don't forget that the purpose of a business is to make money. If what you do doesn't make money, then it is a hobby. That is what Sachin and Binny Bansal from Flipkart advise you to: “Perseverance and hard work are very important. The core of any business is to earn money. You have not done your job well until you find a stranger who is willing to open his/her wallet to give you money for the services/products that you are offering.”

Manuel V. Pangilinan from PLDT agrees with most entrepreneurs, particularly Steve Jobs, that the key to success is hard - and also honest - work. “The abiding lesson is that enduring long-term wealth, especially for self-made people, really comes from doing the right thing - no shortcuts, no corruption - and earning it the right way.”

Masayoshi Son, from Softbank, advises entrepreneurs to always think of the future. This is a great piece of advice and source of motivation because if you always think of the future, you are always going to work hard to make that prospect a better one. “Do not limit yourself to thinking in the present. Think above and beyond. Do not be bound by this age; aim to create a new age that will delight people throughout the world.”

Yoshikazy Tanaka, GREE, is also known as the Mark Zuckerberg of Japan. He says that the hardest part of it all is getting started. Once you've started your business, you've already overcome the hardest struggle: “I think the number one advice I can give is - you just have to start it. Just get your feet in the water and do it. I learned a lot from just trying it out.”

Philippines Railway Projects

Philippines Railway Projects

The Government of Philippines' cabinet-level agency National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board's Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) has approved Mindanao Railway Project's (MRP) Tagum-Davao-Digos (MRP-TDD) segment and two Department of Transportation (DOTr) rail projects. With this purpose, the board's ICC has advised DOTr to coordinate with the NEDA Secretariat to accomplish its approval requisites.

When Mindanao Railway Project is completed, it is expected to provide an efficient and reliable transportation, benefitting tourism, industry and overall economic development in the Davao Region area.

This project is the first part of the proposed 830km MRP loop, which includes a 102.28km commuter railway that will operate from Tagum City to Davao City. The project will locally financed and is expected to cost PHP35.26bn ($710m). The railway is expected to be finished by the third quarter of 2022.

ICC has also approved the North South Railway Projects (NSRP), which is a proposed railway line between Metro Manila, the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines and Legaspi City, the capital of Albay province, in the Philippines.

The project is part of the Government of Philippines' (GOP) aim to encourage economic and urban growth in the most populous regions of the Islands by providing essential connectivity through a world-class passenger rail service.

"MRP-TDD is expected to provide an efficient and reliable transportation upon completion, which would facilitate tourism, industry and overall economic development in the Davao Region area."

The Official Development Assistance (ODA) will finance the project, which will cost nearly PHP285bn ($5.75bn). The three tracks of he NSRP-South Line will run from Tutuban to Los Baños and from Los Baños to Sorsogon for the long haul (581km), and will terminate at Port of Manila.

The Malolos-Clark Railway Project (MCRP) will cost an estimate of PHP211.43bn ($4.27bn) and will connect with the ongoing Tutuban-Malolos portion of the North South Commuter Railway.

MCRP will operate from Malolos, Bulacan, to Clark International Airport (Phase I), and from Clark International Airport to Clark Green City (Phase II).

Although operations and maintenance will be conducted through a public-private partnership (PPP), ODA will also finance this project. Construction is set to start in the second quarter of 2019 and is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2022. Phase II is schedule to start as soon as Phase I is finished and it is set to be completed by 2024.

The NSRP is going to revitalize the oldest rail system in southeast Asia by delivering a 56km-long commuter rail and a 653km long-haul passenger rail services between Metro Manila and the under-served regions in South Luzon.

The project was launched by DOTC and the PMR in July 2015, which marks the start of the bidding process for the South Line, the Manila-Legazpi section. The winning bidder will design, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the project.

As soon as the line becomes operational in 2020, it will support ten daily trips, with seven train sets, passing through 66 stations. Each day, it will handle 316,000 passengers in the initial year of operation. The project will significantly alter transportation in the area as approximately 44,000 public and private vehicle users are expected to shift to the new railway service.

The NSRP is aimed at facilitating transportation and logistics services between the north and south, two rapidly-growing urban regions in Philippines. The project originates in Metro Manila, which is the country's largest city in terms of urban density, with a population of approximately 12m. Therefore, the railway will considerably alleviate traffic congestion in the city. Meanwhile, the Island of Luzon is the biggest and most popular island in the country, housing 48m residents.

After one study not finding the project feasible, another study was conducted and it found out that it was viable in a PPP format. This study was conducted on the southern section of the NCR to find out the viability of the commuter rail project when combined with the Mainline South of the NSRP.

The design and construction of the long-haul passenger rail line will include restoration and renovation of the existing track for safe use. It will also include upgrades for attaining a design speed of 75km/h and allowing a maximum permissible axle load of 15t.

Source for Tech Start-ups

Source for Tech Start-ups

Over the course of the last few years, the Philippines has not only undergone an economic boom but also a tech revolution. After much transformation, the country has succeeded in re-inventing itself and becoming a leading source of tech start-ups and talent.

After an intensive program aimed at privatizing and modernizing Fort Bonifacio - a former military base - turned it into the Silicon Valley of the Philippines. Boasting luxury condos, malls and skyscrapers, today Bonifacio Global City looks like any other major financial hub in the world. This modern financial district is the beating heart of the country's tech scene and it is hard to believe that not even two decades ago, it was still a military base filled with barracks built during World War II.

From being left behind in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has become the breeding ground for tech start-ups that quickly reach the billion-dollar value mark. These successful start-ups are fast becoming the norm in the country, which has produced 30 start-ups of the like within a year.

The country's booming economy - one of the world's fastest growing economies - is mostly responsible of that growth. As its massive business process outsources industry, employing more than a million workers, the Philippines has grown a ferociously strong tech services industry. The country also fosters talent as the some of the industry's fastest growing sectors are those employing advanced skills, like data analytics and mobile app development.

Boasting growing innovation, flexibility, talent and resources, the Philippines is fast attracting a growing number of tech start-ups. The Philippines also boasts a large English-speaking population, a young and highly educated workforce, and low labor costs.

Each year, tens of thousands of graduates specialize in engineering and technology. Most of them are highly skilled in app design and programming languages, which ensures a thorough capable workforce. Nowadays, internet has made it possible for companies across the planet to tap into this skilled workforce and find an ideal pool of on-demand talent for emerging tech start-ups.

As a former US colony, the Philippines has a workforce that is already familiar with the American culture, which is an advantage for companies looking to outsource.

There has also been revolution in society, a shift in culture and a change in the general mindset from one generation to the other. While Filipinos were happy to work in a call center in the past generation, there's a new generation of young and educated Filipinos who are willing to design and build their own products, and compete with tech films from around the world.

Thanks to this shift in culture, investors are now interested in working with Filipino companies. For instance, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company invested $445 million in Germany-based Rocket Internet to establish a strategic partnership with the objective of encouraging a joint development of digital payment technologies for emerging markets.

Thanks to its strategic position, the Philippines are a gateway to the larger Southeast Asian market, since it boasts a westernized market while maintaining a shared ethnicity with many of its neighbors. Therefore, the Philippines is also a unique market that presents an interesting testing environment and it has served that purposed for a variety of products and services, including Uber and Facebook.

As Filipinos can speak English, start-ups can test their products in the Filipino market without having to translate them into another language.

The Filipino population has also laid the groundwork for a tech revolution given it active presence in social media. According to Opera Software's State of the Mobile Web report, the Philippines is the world's most active country on social media. Moreover, according to a study by Taiwanese advertising tech start-up Appier, 20.8 percent of multi-screen users in the Philippines use at least three devices, so they are actively purchasing technological products.

The Philippines tech sector has also been backed up by the Government. During the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo stated, “I have to admit, the government has lagged behind in its understanding and support or the (start-up) sector. That's something we'd like to change going forward.”

In summary, whether the Filipino tech start-up industry will soar in the future or not, what seems clear is that the country appears to have laid the groundwork for the industry to succeed and could pave the way for other emerging nations.

Asian business start-ups

Asian business start-ups

It bodes well for prospective businesses in the Philippines that there is currently a resurgence in technology-orientated start-ups elsewhere around the Pacific rim. Here is our overview of some of the more exciting developments.


An Indonesian innovation, BrandClozet offers Indonesian users a weekly service, offering flash sales of both local and global labels. BrandClozet is run by its founder, Detty Wulandari, affiliated to Fazzione. This organization has been offering flash sales to members since 2012.


ReferralCandy is an app that has been developed by Anafore, a business start-up operating from Singapore. This has been designed to allow users to implement ‘refer a friend' type programs, using the platform of email marketing. ReferralCandy is integrated with major e-commerce resources, such a Magento and Shopify. An oversubscribed funding round recently saw 778,000 being raised in US dollars for this start-up.


Cinnamon is a start-up based in Japan. They pitched a popular photograph manipulation app, Seconds, at the Startup Asia Singapore conference recently. In addition, they have also announced receipt of $1.5 million worth of funding, received from CyberAgent Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, Incubate Fund and TSB Innovation Partners. This welcome injection of cash has arrived just in time for Cinnamon's launch of PicChat – the revamped version of Seconds, the latter having been removed from Google Play and the App Store.


ITviec, based in Vietnam, is an IT-specific recruitment agency that has been ticking over nicely since its inception last July. ITviec can be relied upon to provide interesting background information on the IT industry's trends, that is of use to technologically-driven employers and employees beyond Vietnam.

Kelas Cinta

Indonesia's KelasCinta (which translates as love class) are aiming to be a one-stop answer for dating and relationship needs. It is the brainchild of offline training company, Hitman System, who have been educating Indonesian singletons since 2006!


Based in Malaysia, Apzillo allows application developers to promote the apps they are working on through the advertising medium of dedicated website space. In this way hits can be transformed to more user-generated revenue.

Art Loft

Singapore's Art Loft, launched at the end of last year, is a website for the renting and buying of various types of art. It was instigated by an art enthusiast, along with the founders of a Singapore start-up called Soldgers. The latter had previously dabbled in the penny auction business. Art Loft currently has over 500 piece of art listed in the site, and are actively looking at ways of generating more interested investors.