As Asia’s tech startup ecosystem continues its rapid development in 2015, a new and emerging class of startup is hitting the scene – venture builders in Asia. These are companies that specialize in building other companies. Also referred to as company builders, startup builders, venture factories, and startup factories, a venture builder is a firm or company whose business is the creation of new companies.
A few years ago, Asia venture builders wouldn’t have been possible. The lack of a deep bench of entrepreneurs, software coding talent, angel capital flows, and friendly regulations in most Southeast Asian (ASEAN) countries would have made impossible the idea of Asia venture capital startups creating other startups. But fast forward to 2015 and we have the very beginnings of the Asian versions of Betaworks, Science Inc, Expa, and the Obvious Corp.
Asia venture builders generally use centralized resources including dedicated technology development teams, operation and launch teams, recruiting and human resources, accounting and finance, marketing, administration, and even time-shared CEOs in the some cases. And most importantly, internal and sometimes externally sourced seed capital to fund their Asia startups. Think of it as an Asia incubator or accelerator that only serves wholly-owned or internal startups and projects.
“Inspire Ventures is launching two startups the first half of this year,” says Tom Kim, Founding Partner at Inspire Ventures in Bangkok, Thailand. Furthermore he adds, “And given the market progress we’re seeing combined with accelerated investment appetite for early stage growth plays from investors, we are developing and launching two more startups for the second half of 2015. That’s four company launches this year which is beyond ambitious but achievable for our astute team.”
One important characteristic amongst Asia venture capital startup builders is the existence of a strong resource sharing culture that creates immense synergy across a company builder’s portfolio of startups. The challenge faced by Asia venture builders is that very capability to amalgamate all the resources under one roof to develop that sharing culture.
This ecosystem-first strategy for startup builders and venture capital in Asia is a far departure from what we’ve become used to as a standard startup lifecycle when founders paired up, bootstrapped until they had a MVP, then sought seed financing to take their business to the next level. Startup factories, venture builders, and company builders in Asia are adding rocket fuel into the old founder model by cutting out the years worth of frustration experience by startups due to a lack of resources, knowledge, funding, and infrastructure to develop, launch, and operate their businesses.