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Forget Unicorns, Meet The Dragons

Written by Varun Mittal, Founder, Fintech Nation

6 May 2024  The concept of growth hacking originated in Silicon Valley. When we look at startups in ASEAN, they need to create their unique model and playbook for growth hacking since many things that worked in the West would only sometimes work in the East. Over the last 10 years, ASEAN startups have developed their models based on their unique macroeconomic, customer segment, and development models through experiments and trysts with economic cycles. 

Unlike Silicon Valley, ASEAN startups prefer evolutionary change, and even disruptors focus on creating additional value instead of just being a replacement for incumbents. The focus on avoiding extreme free-market approaches and varying degrees of centralised planning makes the ASEAN growth model unique. ASEAN cherishes order among chaos, alignment among debate, and construction of the future before disruption.

Most ASEAN economies have been independent for less than 80 years. The first 40 years after World War 2 focused on establishing the basics, such as public infrastructure, social stability, and monetary policy autonomy. Venture capital and startups have become mainstream in ASEAN in the last 20 years, only as a mixture of government initiatives, corporate venture arms by local and regional corporations, and Asian arms of global venture arms. In this paradigm, founders and investors in ASEAN apply various approaches to growth driven by its unique cultural and economic factors.

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