By Tiffany Hill
Women and men streamed into a small conference room at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel. They were there for one reason: How to take their business global.
It was one of the sessions offered during the fifth annual East Meets West,1Hawaii’s premier startup event hosted by Blue Startups.2 The two-day event is geared toward entrepreneurs and investors who do business in the U.S. and Asia and features speakers from Hawaii, the U.S., China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore and New Zealand, many who have successfully started and invested in businesses across the world.
The afternoon session honed in on taking your business abroad and featured entrepreneurs from Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore. Going global is different depending on where exactly you want to grow your business, said session moderator, Casey Lau, a former Blue Startups entrepreneur-in-residence and the current co-host of RISE, the largest startup conference in Asia.
“When you expand, localization is key,” said Jeffrey Paine, a founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures,3 an early-stage venture capital firm in Southeast Asia.
For example, Eugene Kim, a partner at accelerator SparkLabs 4 in Seoul said that the Korean government is generous in funding businesses, to the tune of about 70 percent, but there’s a caveat. “Unless you’re a Korean company, or you have Korean nationals in your company, it’s hard to get funding.” He added that businesses also face stiff regulations.
Oscar Ramos, of Chinaccelerator5 said China’s laws could likewise be challenging for foreign companies to navigate as they expend their business in the country. The decade old Chinaccelerator helps startups from across the globe expand into China. However, said Ramos, large cities, such as Hong Kong and Beijing are technologically advanced and can provide useful market testing. “China has a lot of early adopters,” he said. “You can combine the expertise of (a certain field) with China’s technology.”
Connectivity and technology are two things Elisa Chiu said Taiwan excels at, making it easier for businesses to grow. Chiu is the founder and CEO of Anchor Taiwan,6 an entrepreneur immersion program. “We’re also early tech adopters,” she said. “(Taiwan is) big enough with 23 million people but small enough to navigate.”
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For more information on growing your business, stay tuned for updates on next year’s East Meets West event. More than 30 people speak at East Meets West, including venture capitalists, startup co-founders and CEOs of accelerators, photo editing apps, email delivery platforms, vacation booking sites and more. They hail from Hawaii, the U.S. China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore and New Zealand and many do cross-border business.