I just got back to the Valley from a Distro Tour of Asia with a group of mentors from 500 Startups.
It sounds glamorous… AND IT WAS.
Aside from doing lots of eating, we also helped 60+ companies in Taiwan and Hong Kong (from a pre-selected applicant pool) tackle their biggest questions in growth marketing, b2b sales, fundraising / pitching, and team leadership with workshops and lots of hands-on office hours.
We learned a LOT about the realities of growing and funding a startup in Taipei and Hong Kong. These are two talent-filled ecosystems in the “Asian Tiger” constellation of developed economies, and they have a lot going for them.
In Hong Kong the companies we met had a solid grasp on their initial customer needs and how to find those first customers.
But, startups and their founders in these regions also face some big, non-obvious realities that pose unique challenges.
From our perspective focused on startup growth and distribution, here are the challenges that stood out to us the most.