The Gregorian year of 2012 started with an ominous ring to it. But 2012 waltzed along anyway, and so did December 21. And here we are, at the cusp of a global new year.
Before you young folks party the night away, we thought it good to school you in the happenings of the Asian tech startup scene over the last 12 months. Or, if you’re reading this in 2013, welcome to the past.
One of the world’s largest technology launch platforms, DEMO, came to Asia in late FEBRUARY. Myanmar hosted yet another Barcamp while Rocket Internet continues its blitzkrieg in Asia with a Pinterest clone. And full-fledged e-commerce comes to LiveJournal.
TREND ALERT: Crowdfunding starts to take off in Asia.
Singapore’s today’s almost legendary reputation of funding-overflow saw new private investors join hands with the government to start more VC funds. And MARCH also saw some of the world’s best iOS developers gather in Australia while Apple CEO Tim Cook visits an Apple store in China.
US’ Square also gets more competition in Asia with Swiff and PayPal Here.
And in more physics: Technology + Coca Cola’s Marketing poweress = Hug a Vending Machine.
Wrapp returns fire against Rocket.
Southeast Asia’s first Y-Combinator style incubator, JFDI.Asia, welcomed its first batch of startups and culminated with a demo day after 100 days of bootcamp in MAY. With Singapore’s first nation-wide tech company open house taking place a few days after.
TREND ALERT: Rise in startup accelerators in Asia.
One of Asia’s largest telcos, SingTel, goes on a shopping spree. While the company’s home country of Singapore tops the Mobile Payments Readiness Index study by MasterCard across the world.
JUNE saw three key startup events in the region: Echelon, beLAUNCH in South Korea and Startup Asia Jakarta. (Read: 4 things you must know to tackle the “Wild West of tech entrepreneurship” that is Indonesia.)
Intel Capital shows more interest in Asia with investments in Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam. This middle of the year also saw good news for Asian Apple consumers as the iTunes store touches down across the region.
And the Rocket launches its Square-missile in Asia.
JULY saw the finals of the nation-wide ON3 pitching competition in the Philippines and Australia hosted the grand finals of Imagine Cup. India’s InMobi acquires more companies and the world’s largest blackout occurs in India.
TREND ALERT: Medical tourism platforms and startups that allow you to find a doctor easily.
Amidst the global fascination with new CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! in Southeast Asia demonstrates a butcher’s regret after it buys, kills, then later resurrects Koprol, Indonesia’s answer to Foursquare.
TREND ALERT: Cosmetics subscription commerce the next Clone Rush
SEPTEMBER played host to India’s largest tech discovery platform, we saw Japan’s answer to SXSW and ChopChop’s founder break his cushy investment banking job scholarship to start the company in Malaysia.
Google also thinks Lao is important for its Translate tool.
Thailand’s Ookbee and Indonesia’s SCOOP partner for e-publishing platform expansion. When competing startups partner rather than continue butting heads full on, one plus one equals three and one less kitten dies.
TREND ALERT: The sharing economy explodes, accommodation, co-working and rideshare startups pick up momentum.
And again, from the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia’s produces augmented reality app, Harpoen which was one of the winners of the World Summit Award Mobile.
Crowdsourced teeshirt design giant Threadless threw a huge day party in Singapore, one of its most important markets, ever.
TREND ALERT: The rise of platformed creativity in Asia and how it’s connecting creators to consumers.
Japan’s gaming giant, GREE announced a partnership with Asian telco giant SingTel while Philippines and Indonesia gets Google Free Zone. And Taiwan’s Cubie and Japan’s CinemaCraft join the 5th batch of portfolio companies of US’ 500Startups.
TREND ALERT: Rise of e-commerce in Asia
Japan’s VC, Global Brain brought outside-Japan startups and individuals like myself for a Japan-Southeast-Asia-themed forum.
IN SUMMARY, WE BELIEVE IN THE TWO ASIAS: urban/developed and rural/developing. We like ambitious founders, and we like sleeping, but some entrepreneurs like it so much, they sleep with their co-founder.
If you don’t, there is still hope for you.