A guide to starting up in the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain

May 21, 2019

Your fantastic tech powered idea may change the world. Getting ready to press the launch button is one of the most exhilarating feelings as a startup founder. However, setting up and scaling a successful tech startup is a task peppered with several challenging digital milestones – developing a successful product, finding a suitable startup ecosystem, having the perfect go to market strategy, identifying the right clientele and sponsor and most importantly, getting funded!

It is estimated that 100,000 technology startups reach the initial funding stage every year. Angel investors - which often include family and friends - help about half of these companies with their initial expansion. Lesser than 10% are ultimately able to scale up and show the steady potential to receive a first round of funding.

If you are an entrepreneurial tech startup and have successfully crossed the setup milestone - your enterprise and technology has progressed from an interesting proof of concept to a promising commercial opportunity. As deep tech continues to gain momentum worldwide - here are the top 3 factors to be considered while laying your Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Block Chain (BC) startup’s foundation:

  1. Keep your fingers on the Geo-Digital-Pulse

Choosing an optimum location for your startup is not an easy decision. A lot of factors come into play that can influence your choice – a collaborative startup culture, skilled and experienced staff, backing from the government, and an overall startup fostering ecosystem.

Deep tech startups are the buzzword across ASEAN countries, as they support two megatrends - urbanization and digitalization. For instance, Southeast Asia (SEA) sits on the cusp of a major economic boom – with a rising middle class and a thriving tech startup ecosystem – making it a great test bed for deep tech startups. Recognising the innovative capabilities of disruptive technologies and their innate ability to improve human lives, the ASEAN chair has proposed the ASEAN Smart Cities Network - where disruptive technologies are the main drivers of societal innovations. As part of the Startup SG Equity scheme, the Singaporean government has set aside $170 million for co-investment into tech startups - with up to $4 million for deep tech startups. This is one of the most ideal ecosystems for any IoT/AI and BC startup to jumpstart their growth.

Several governments are also eager to provide lucrative incentives, so that startups set-up shop within their borders. As an example – Chile is encouraging startups from all over the world to move south of the equator with Start-Up Chile - a program that partners with big companies like PayPal, Amazon, and Microsoft to offer visas and grants to tempt new startup entrepreneurs. So, while picking a great startup ecosystem – remember it’s not just the what - the where is equally important as well!

  1. Differentiate with Socio-Economic Innovations

Deep tech startups are fast gaining ground and recognition, as the innovative solution to some of the world’s largest problems – social and economic. Tech startups especially in SEA are rising to meet the challenge of innovating for some of the most rampant issues the globe is facing today – food shortage, energy depletion, infrastructure challenges, new diseases – to name a few. A good place to start is by identifying a niche area your startup wants to cater to - either companies (as a B2B player) or a desired consumer segment. Then build innovative products and services with their pain points in mind to gain the cutting edge.

Successful Indonesian startup Go-Jek has built a dynamic business model that caters to the crowded streets of Jakarta that witness some of the worst traffic scenarios in the world. It also caters to rural areas without paved roads and the company is now planning to expand into several more countries in SEA. Meanwhile Singapore recently witnessed the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health and the National Environmental Agency partnering to develop an AI agent that can forecast dengue incidences up to four months in advance. Smart home solutions, smart cities, autonomous pollution reducing vehicles, retail chain efficiencies, energy conservation – there are a plethora of IoT/AI and BC use cases across all these sectors and is an ideal vehicle for a startup to leave its digital footprint and help change the world!

  1. Develop a breakthrough Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy

The only thing that is more powerful than an idea is its flawless execution. Figuring out a GTM approach is no trivial matter and it separates the startups that will be successful and sustainable from those that won’t. A smart GTM should have metrics that empower a startup to become a cash-flow positive, self-sustaining, ready-to-scale enterprise over a short period of time.

Take Dropbox as an example. Drew Houston and his team put up a simple, influential use case in their YouTube video on why the consumer needs Dropbox! Published in 2009 - the video is so popular that it remains one of the greatest examples of a brilliant GTM strategy and its socialization. Or Cure Fit – the fitness startup - which started with the health gurus, however leveraged this experience to generate a great GTM plan and started catering to a much larger market, based on their early experiences with the experts.

GTM cannot be an afterthought and there are several questions in this regard that a fledgling startup should be relentlessly trying to solution – What is your value proposition? Should you have a direct sales force or sell indirectly through others? Can you ensure a better market reach through other channels - such as social media or advertising? The list goes on. Make sure your business’s unique POC partners with a dynamic GTM – to give your startup the tipping edge.

These and several other success factors must be leveraged while plotting your startup success trajectory:

  • Invest early on in public relation or media outreach to market your deep tech products and solutions

  • Increase your success potential via strategic tie up’s with suitable Incubators and Accelerators or collaborative tie up’s with deep tech giants

  • Innovate by harnessing the combined power of the dynamic trio - IoT/AI/BC and build cutting edge products and services

  • Accelerate your growth potential through mutually beneficial Venture Capitalist investments

  • Build a balanced team with complementary skill sets at all levels

The digital industry is abuzz with innovation – new products built on emerging technologies are launched daily and the market is waiting to embrace the next big, disruptive idea. There is a huge opportunity for savvy risk-taking entrepreneurs and agile startup ideas. Jump onto the deep tech startup wagon, take a chance on the new business venture you’ve always wanted to launch and ride all the way to digital startup success!

Looking for inspiration and tips on how to make your business a success? Get in touch with the Interchange community or ask our experts.


Other news