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Adeo Ressi: Singapore Has The Highest Funding Rate, But That May Not Be A Good Thing

Adeo (left) with Matt Marshall, founder of VentureBeat.

by Nicholas Aaron Khoo

We managed to catch Adeo Ressi, CEO of The Founder Institute and CEO of briefly at the sidelines of DEMO Asia 2012 to get his views on the startup scene here in Asia.

Quality Of Ideas The Same?

Although Adeo expressed in earlier interviews that the quality of ideas, whether in Silicon Valley, or Europe, or Asia are the same, he thought that it is more “fine tuned” now as The Founder Institute is operating in 25 cities. Adeo feels that there are some differences in ideas in different markets but on the whole, it’s “more consistent than you would imagine”.

He also believes that some of the most innovative ideas are coming out of Paris and the highest rate of ideas being funded are in Berlin and in Singapore, the latter due to the active involvement of the government.

On South East Asia

The Founder Institute now has three chapters in this region, namely Singapore, Vietnam, and Jakarta. Adeo believes that companies in Singapore are very strong and we have the highest funding rate due to the various government programs. This is both good and bad, since in places where funding rates are lower, entrepreneurs are forced to make “OK” ideas better.

But in Singapore, since it’s relatively easy to get some capital, it encourages people to have “OK” ideas which may be good, but not necessary great. As a result, these entrepreneurs are allowed to pursue mediocre ideas, which keeps them in a comfortable state for too long. They are delaying the inevitable and will eventually run out of money before they “fix themselves later”.

Adeo feels that the jury is out on how good or bad our government programs here are as he is a firm believer that the market should ultimately correct mistakes. Ultimately, Singapore is supported by artificial market dynamics.

On What Makes Silicon Valley More Successful

Although there are many factors (including good weather), Adeo attributes Silicon Valley’s success to three main aspects:

  1. Draconian meritocracy. Better companies with better ideas and better talent are able to move much quicker so they split off from the pack. Companies with just good but not great ideas, good teams but not great teams, good traction but not great traction, get killed by the system.
  2. “Hit space culture”. For companies that do break out, there is an abundance of money and resources for them. If there’s even a faint sign that you will be the next hit, the whole community swarms around you.
  3. Tightly connected and intense ecosystem. Everyone in the ecosystem are friends. When you have that hit company, everyone gets behind it. Although egos are definitely involved, success trumps all other attributes.

What Singapore Needs To Do

Contrary to popular opinion, Adeo feels that Singapore’s market size is an advantage. Because our local market is so small, startups here are forced not to focus on Singapore and as a result they need to leave Singapore very quickly. Adeo advises startups to think about at least two or three markets in your region to be really viable. He feels that most companies realize this but don’t execute on it as fast as they should.

On another note, Adeo thinks that the Singapore government is grappling with “a bit of an identity crisis” on whether we want to be an attractive destination or the hotbed of leadership. Clarifying on this point, Adeo says that we need to decide on whether we want leaders to come from Singapore or do we want leaders to come to Singapore.

End of the day, Adeo believes that Singapore has the potential to be a regional hub for entrepreneurs.


For more information about DEMO Asia 2012 in Singapore, check out this page on SGEntrepreneurs.

This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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