GeeksOnAPlane At echelon 2010 In Singapore: An Overview Of South East Asia's Web Scene


Following Shanghai, Beijing, and Seoul, the GeeksOnAPlane (GOAP) tour reached its fourth and penultimate stop last week: Singapore. The island nation isn’t a very big market by itself (population: 5 million), but it’s located in the center of South East Asia, home to 600 million people. Only a small fraction of the population in that region currently has access to the web. However, it’s just a question of time until places like Indonesia (240 million people, 12.5% Internet penetration), Vietnam (89 million, 25.7%), or the Philippines (98 million, 24.5%) catch up to the rest of the wired world.

There’s quite a lot happening in this region of the world already, as demonstrated by the 650 local entrepreneurs, investors and executives who attended echelon 2010, a two-day web industry event organized by Singaporean startup community e27. What follows is a summary of just a few presentations, panel discussions, and startup demos the GOAP witnessed at that event.

Needless to say, there was a lot more going on during those two days in Singapore (for the purpose of this post, I am just focusing on the Asia-related stuff; here‘s the complete agenda and here‘s the speaker list). If you want to know more, e27 itself covered much of what happened at the event on its blog and offers a slew of video recordings on its Ustream page.

Asia-related presentations and panel discussions at echelon 2010

Asia’s web industry (panel discussion)

Podcast series This Week In Asia (iTunes link) recorded its 50th episode live on stage at echelon 2010. Guests included investor and GOAP head honcho Dave McClure, Gen Kanai (Director of Asia Business Development for Mozilla), Mohan Belani (Director at e27), Rama Mamuaya (founder of Indonesian tech blog DailySocial), myself, and others.

You can listen to the podcast, which touches upon various topics around Asia’s web scene, over on This Week In Asia’s site (the sound quality improves after the first two minutes), download it on iTunes, or watch the discussion on video here.

Indonesia’s mobile industry (presentation)

Indonesia is hot right now, not only in South East Asia. One of the most interesting (Asia-related) presentations delivered at the event came from Jakarta-based Andy Zain, founder of Mobile Monday Indonesia.

Zain said that the mobile web in Indonesia is bigger than the fixed-line Internet (210 million cell phone owners), that Indonesians love browsing the web on their handsets more than anyone else (they’re consuming 661 pages monthly), and that 80% of all new handsets sold in the country are web-enabled.

Here’s Zain’s presentation:

Hit this link to view the presentation on video.

Social gaming in Asia (panel discussion)

Unfortunately, there is no video recording of the third Asia-related discussion panel (Social Gaming – How a Fast Rising Global Phenomenon is Developing in Asia) available. But e27 has summarized what the six panelists talked about in a dedicated blog post.

Startup demos at echelon 2010

Thankfully, echelon 2010 not only gave big corporations and star entrepreneurs some airtime, but also made room for South East Asian startups to show their wares (dozens of them, in fact). All of the companies offer their wares in English (and quite a few were approached by investors from Asia and elsewhere on the spot, I’ve heard.)

In TechCrunch 50 tradition, ten of the startups actually launched their products at the event. You can watch the entire launchpad on video here and here.

Here’s a list of all the products that were first unveiled at echelon 2010:

  • Zelrealm, a virtual items-based monetization tool for social game developers (more info on the e27 blog)
  • MyCube, a “digital life management tool” that will be built on top of existing social networks (more info)
  • scraplr, a “Yahoo Answers for tasks” that makes it possible to share tasks on Facebook and Twitter (more info)
  • TangoFX, a video platform (in alpha) that lets multiple users connect while consuming video content through widgets (more info)
  • Pandaform, a simple form builder mainly targeted at small organizations (more info)
  • foound, an LBS for the iPhone that intends to make it easier to organize “hangouts with friends” (more info)
  • FlickEvents, an event management platform (more info)
  • Maxus Contentian, a copywriting add-on for the Drupal CMS that’s targeted at small businesses (more info)
  • MoVend, an in-app payment system for Android mainly targeting South East Asian developers (more info)
  • Time Voyager, whose game engine JX2 will be marketed to makers of 3D games (more info)

foound (tag line: “Why check-in alone when you can hangout with friends?”) was widely regarded to be the top product of the echelon launchpad. The eponymous Singapore-based startup expects its iPhone app to hit the App Store within this month (the foound team – along with some members of the GOAP group – is pictured on top of this post).

Among the around 40 exhibiting startups, I found three companies to be standing out from the crowd (although there were probably more). These were Flutterscape from Japan (a unique, cross-border social commerce platform), Creately from Australia (a collaborative online diagramming tool), and insync from the Philippines (“Dropbox for Gmail and Google users”).

Many thanks from the GOAP group to the echelon 2010 organizers (especially Mohan Belani and Sneha Menon) for their hospitality.

Only a small part of the group has now moved on to Tokyo. The final stop of the GOAP tour (which formally ended after echelon) is Sapporo, where the Infinity Ventures Summit, one of Japan’s most important web industry events, will be held from Thursday.

For GOAP information in real-time, follow the #goap hash tag (the official Twitter account is here). “Official” GOAP pictures are still being uploaded over on Flickr.

Photo credit: Kris Krüg, Static Photography

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