From Consumer Brands to Tech Giants: The World is Looking at Asia
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Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.
- William Butler Yeats
How many times do we really look at things from a news lens? I went to speak at a conference last month in Egypt — the Techne Summit Alexandria 2018. It was an eye opener to say the least, in terms of the quality and quantity of entrepreneurs who were in attendance. There were investors from the Middle Eastern countries and also entrepreneurs from the US, Europe and Africa. I was pretty much the only one from Southeast Asia. It was a delight to see how American brands, investors and start-ups have envisaged opportunities in North Africa as opposed to the rest of the world. As for Alexandria, I found a lot of things which amazed me. Interestingly, Uber was a more preferred cab ride over the local cabs. McDonald’s, Hardee’s, KFC, Starbucks, Costa were some of the busiest restaurants and cafes in the markets of Alexandria. I marveled at the fact that a city where people speak, write and understand Arabic more than English, American brands have been able to build a niche for themselves in the market. Had it not been for the under-developed real estate of Alexandria, one could have easily thought of it as an American city. However, not many countries and economies seem to be in a rush to lap up the opportunity Alexandria offers. Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and he saw to it the city grew from a small port town to become the grandest and most important metropolis in ancient Egypt.
In the issue, our cover story is about the journey of OnePlus — a little-known company a few years back — which from being a newcomer in highly competitive market of smartphones has become the leader now. The company recently surpassed Apple and Samsung to top the premium smartphone segment in India. We met Vikas Agarwal, general manager of OnePlus India who explained how the start-up pursued perfection all these years to consolidate its position in the market and eventually managed to supersede the hotshots of the industry.
As promised, we are bringing some cutting-edge stories from the Asia Pacific region in this issue. We have featured the man who is helping people give up meat in Hong Kong and beyond. And another who is helping Starbucks’ expansion in Malaysia. A feature on start-ups that are fighting air-pollution with their innovative ideas in China. Plus, a feature on why Singapore is the most happening market for blockchain companies.
We also roped in Peter Vesterbecka — creator of Angry Birds and co-founder of Fun Academy — to write about how we can revive our education system. Interestingly, Vesterbecka suggests something peculiarly Finnish to deal with obsolete education system — giving students a certain liberty to find their own paths as opposed to burdening them with books and exams.
We also caught up with founder of Simplilearn, Krishna Kumar who explained how he has taken learning to a whole new level. And we have featured some entrepreneurs and business leaders from the LGBTQ community in our issue focus this month. They shared with us their struggles and what the Section 377 verdict means to them.
(This article was first published in the October issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)