Global communications company Infobip recently hosted an Asia Pacific (APAC) focused webinar for the launch of Infobip Startup Tribe program, which saw participation from various startups and ecosystem players from across the region.
The webinar titled “Bringing Next-Gen Customer Engagement to Startups” featured key speakers, including Vishal Harnal, managing partner of 500 Southeast Asia, one of the leading venture capital firms in the region; Michael Kim, head of Google for Startups APAC; and Richard Ker, VP, Global Partnerships and Ecosystem Development of Aerodyne Group, a global drone-tech innovation leader from Malaysia and was moderated by Nikola Pavesic, director of Startup Ecosystem for Infobip.
During the panel session, Pavesic, Harnal along with Kim and Ker, discussed the opportunities for customer-centric solutions for startups and the many challenges and opportunities they have encountered. More importantly, they all shared insights on how to grow and move forward in the new normal, and in the face of the impact this pandemic has had on companies’ abilities to scale globally.
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At the webinar, participants learned that in Southeast Asia (SEA), localized and specialized business models are quickly growing with specific ecosystems and rural digitalization being major focuses. Customer engagement has changed with the acceleration of digitalization. As consumers now expect to engage with a business anytime and anywhere, it is important for startups to have an always-on customer interaction infrastructure to provide consistent engagement.
With internet penetration and digital services in APAC now on the fast-track, an omnichannel approach to customer engagement that involves streamlined communications across multiple conversation streams is a must
Aside from providing inspiration to budding startups, Charist Montenegro, country manager of Infobip Philippines, also cited the importance of having the right customer engagement solutions and tools to help them succeed.
“Valuable insights were shared during the Infobip webinar and one key area that was emphasized is that startups need to effectively reach and communicate with their target customers across different channels. The Infobip Startup Tribe program addresses that need and we are excited to see breakthrough ideas from Filipino companies,” Montenegro said.
Start-up ecosystem in APAC
Harnal spoke about APAC’s startup ecosystem advancement over the last seven years and why some of the future opportunities lie with customer engagement. He highlighted that over 30 startup unicorns now exist in the region, with household names such as Bukalapak, Carsome, and Grab — all of whom are customer-centric at their core. He also shared how a strong communications support system is necessary if they want to stand out among the competitive crowd, especially in an “always-on” era. This includes delivering satisfactory customer experiences and streamlining operations for cost efficiency.
“After leading initiatives and being part of the industry for many years, I am looking forward to adding value to startups on a mission and help them fast-track their growth,” said Pavesic, who is based out of Tokyo and has introduced the program. “This inaugural event marks our foray into connecting many notable and aspiring startups with creative aspirations that make up this thriving ecosystem in APAC. I’m really excited to be bringing Startup Tribe to APAC and I can’t wait to see how the community grows after leveraging on trusted accelerators like our expert council, extensive resources, and global networks.”
Apart from discussing the thriving startup ecosystem in APAC, the panelists also spoke about challenges that startups in the region have already faced.
“Many startups are currently not able to meet their partners face-to-face, which challenges them to find new innovative ways to go global and to have business growth abroad while staying within their country,” Kim said. “In markets like Seoul and Tokyo, we are seeing founders grow their business exponentially within their country and many of them are actively looking to expand overseas, especially to Southeast Asia. Through our various Google for Startups programs, we are working with startups to enhance their online interactions and strengthen their online sales techniques.”
“Over the years at Aerodyne, we have managed to build a great brand value by being customer-centric, gaining their loyalty and leveraging on organic marketing where we try to educate our internal staff to be more customer-centric, so they are able to understand their customers better,” Ker said. “We have also adopted an always-on approach in our communications and social media channels, so we are able to engage and respond to our customers and their inquires whether big or small, within a four-hour window.”