Opinion

Do start ups need marketing to take off?

Minh DohAnh-Minh Do is the Vietnam editor of Tech In Asia, a publication that covers Asia’s start up community.

In this Q&A, he talks to Mumbrella Asia editor Robin Hicks about starts up, whether they need marketing to flourish and why adland produces so few of them.

What’s the secret to a successful start up in the current climate in Asia?

At the moment, there is no real secret formula beyond solving a real problem on the ground and executing. As far as I can tell, this is true across the board.

What sort of mindset do you need to have to be a successful entrepreneur and launch a start-up?

I think the main things are passion and determination. These things will keep one going in the hard times.

How important is creativity in start-up land?

Very important, but not as important as execution and vision.

Does a start-up need marketing to be successful?

Yes and no. Many startups, especially if they are following a lean startup model, will prefer to grow slow first. By growing slow they can iterate and adapt their model to their users.

WebVanStartups are usually considered to be an organization or group of people looking for a business model, startups are also entities that have the potential to scale very fast (sometimes through marketing, sometimes through network effects). Therefore, once a startup has identified the business model that is suitable, they can then pump marketing. Doing so prior may lead to WebVan-like endings [WebVan, an online grocery delivery service which went bankrupt in 2001, has been voted one of the biggest dotcom flops in history].

Why do you think there aren’t many start-ups in the marketing or advertising space?

I think there are actually quite a few in the marketing space. The founder of Tokobagus in Indonesia said that he thinks online advertising is a big future trend for Asia, and he started a company, Digital Ambient Indonesia to tackle that.

Every year, we see startups at Startup Asia (Tech In Asia’s big conference held in Jakarta and Singapore, and Tokyo next year) that are in this space. One that stands out is a company called Rich Media Ads that makes mini-sites inside a traditional web banner.

Watch a presentation from Rich Media Ads at Start Ups Asia:

Which market in Asia impresses you the most in how it encourages start-ups?

I’d say Singapore and South Korea are the most interesting in this space, mainly because they have a lot of money that is going into building them.

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