A recap of the Tech in Asia Conference 2020

What do you get when you put together more than 3,600 entrepreneurs, investors, and tech enthusiasts on an online platform for four straight days? That, my friends, was the Tech in Asia Conference Virtual 2020 in a nutshell.

Illustration credit: Idea Ink Illustrations

Our biggest flagship conference was held between October 19 to 22, and during those four days, we saw attendees from more than 35 countries – 40% of whom are either founders or C-levels – make over 16,000 engagements on the platform.

As you can probably tell, it was a buzzing event full of activities for everyone. Here’s a quick recap in case you missed it.

Thought leadership

If you follow any tech leader, investor, or founder on social media, odds are you would have seen them speak at this year’s conference. Some of them were:

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  • Nicholas Nash, managing partner and co-founder, Asia Partners
  • Ming Maa, president, Grab
  • Rachmat Kaimuddin, CEO, Bukalapak
  • Divya Gokulnath, co-founder, Byju’s
  • Justin Kan, investor, Goat Capital
  • Xin Yi Lim, executive director, Pinduoduo

And that’s only a fraction of the incredible lineup of speakers we had. What did they speak about? Well, let’s dive into some of the top sessions with the highest views during the conference. And the best part was that our Core and Live subscribers got to attend all of them at no additional cost – a great return on their subscription indeed.

SEA’s New Golden Age

Nick Nash took the stage once again to bring us valuable insights. This year, he gave us the answer to the question, “How big does a startup need to be to go public?” That would be the “Rule of 25.”

Through his research and analysis, Nash found that companies that reached or were close to making a US$25 million gross profit level in their most recent fiscal year have gone on to raise a significant amount of investment upon going public.

Under the Hood: The Founder and Investor Relationship

A startup investor more than just hands money over to the founder. In this session, GGV Capital managing partner Jixun Foo and Grab president Ming Maa sat down and spoke with Tech in Asia’s CEO Willis Wee about the importance of the founder-investor relationship.

GGV Capital is one of Grab’s earlier investors, and Maa highlighted the role that it played – Foo in particular – in  urging the startup to launch  its payments business. Thanks to Foo’s push, the ride-hailing giant launched GrabPay in 2016 and went on to build more financial services.

Creating a Culture of Resilience in SEA

Former Hooq chief exec and current CEO of Seek Asia Peter Bithos spoke about the day he  broke the news  to his team that the video-streaming platform was shutting down.

One of the takeaways Bithos learned from that experience is that if a video-streaming platform doesn’t have a minimum investment of US$1 billion from the start, it’s going to be tough for the business to survive. During the session, he shared more of his experiences and the lessons he had learned from his time with Hooq, all of which have “prepared [him] for any tech challenge now”.

Innovation at its finest

What’s a tech conference without the young startups breaking into the scene for the first time?

This year, numerous startups set up booths on our platform to showcase their companies. We saw fresh products from industries such as education, advertising, health, and logistics.

Take it from us: After visiting a couple of their virtual booths, anyone would have gotten excited thinking about setting up their own startup too!

Besides our virtual startup booths, 10 founders also pitched their startups to the most renowned VCs in the region while an audience of hundreds watched live at our Startup Arena Pitch Battle.

In partnership with Surge, Sequoia Capital India’s rapid scale-up program, we had held four regional events in  SingaporeVietnam Indonesia, and the  rest of Southeast Asia, all leading to a grand finale that was staged during the Tech in Asia Conference.

Winner Papaya Insurtech, and runners-up ZumVet and Assemblr all received cash prizes, plus perks from Freshworks, HubSpot, and Tigerhall.

Putting offline networking back into a virtual conference

Besides organizing all these online sessions, we also conducted the curated Meet the Speakers and In-Person Speed-Dating sessions so that attendees could make even more valuable connections.

Some attendees based in Singapore met and chatted face to face with speakers such as Amit Saberwal (founder and CEO of Reddoorz), Gillian Tee (CEO and co-founder of Homage), and Jac Cheok (head of communications at Gojek Singapore).

The In-Person Speed-Dating session was just as exciting: Founders were given 15 minutes to pitch their startups to investors from Cocoon Capital, Monk’s Hill Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, and more. In return, they received advice, made connections – and some might have even secured potential funding.

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