Building Bridges: Asia-Pacific Week in Berlin
Will my business idea work in other markets? What challenges will I have to face? Where do I look for support? These questions are undoubtedly on the mind of entrepreneurs looking to enter new markets. As the world continues to become increasingly interconnected, international cooperation gains critical importance for companies. While scaling internationally is a goal for many startups, most of them face struggles getting to that point – no matter how successful they are in their home market.
Likewise despite a globalized economy, European companies also find it difficult to expand to other continents, due to different laws, cultures, markets, and also unwritten rules of intercultural communication in foreign target markets. Finding the right market entry point requires profound local knowledge, and the right network that helps in adapting the business plan to the local culture. But the question is, how can an entrepreneur build such a network of experts, mentors and fellow founders?
Asia-Pacific Week (APW) is a stellar example of why building a global startup ecosystem matters, and how to do it. Launched in 1997 and recurring annually since 2015, the conference follows the guiding principles of connecting smart cities, startup ecosystems, and speeds up innovation and digitalization. It is a perfect opportunity to invite innovative founders from all over the world to meet up and learn from each other!
As the name suggests, the dialogue with Asia is of particular importance during these seven days packed full of enlightening presentations, insightful workshops and networking opportunities. In this year’s Asia-Pacific Week 2019, keynote speakers presented their insights on topics such as “Internationalization of Startups”, “Female Entrepreneurial Friendliness in India and Berlin: A data-driven 8 city comparison” as well as the “Yays and Nays of Intercultural Communication”
This extensive partner program further established the APW as a forum for information, dialogue and concrete collaborations benefiting German and Asian partners alike. By connecting mentors, investors, talents and founders from the European and the Asian startup scenes, APW 2019 gave Asian startups the opportunity to tap into the European network of investors, while European startups gained first-hand insights into what to look out for when building a business in Asia.
On the Embassy Day, for instance, the embassies of many Asian countries shared their knowledge about where business opportunities in their home countries are, and what potential investors, as well as entrepreneurs, should look out for. In between the presentations, the participants had a chance to network over delicious Asian food, from spring rolls to samosa. The Embassy Day concluded with a champagne reception, where everybody mingled, tasting Baden wines while also learning about the opportunities in the Chinese luxury market. Shampa Ganguly, Co-Founder of the Indian end-to-end mobility platform CITILITY, sees strengthened ties between Europe and Asia as essential for growth in both markets. “Events like these are a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other. I think it’s quite possible that when working together, a European or Asian country could bring out the next Facebook, Tesla or Uber!”
Similar to preceding years, Asia-Pacific Week 2019 offered a framework for exchange between startups, industry representatives, and experts to discuss important trends and create the opportunity to develop collaborative projects and partnerships. In addition to the conferences, Berlin’s cultural institutions enriched the agenda by highlighting specific cultural and societal aspects of the Asia-Pacific region. This gave visitors the opportunity to take a closer look at the art, history, education and culture of Europe.
These seven days will make a lasting impact on participants from both regions, and they will benefit from this experience long after the closing words have been spoken. Divya Sharma, Co-Founder of Bikxie, an Indian app-based delivery service, sums up the experience: “Programmes like the Asia-Pacific Week allow founders, or those aspiring to be one, to really get to know their business. It highlights what it means to be an entrepreneur of a tech company, and allows us to discuss with international colleagues about the challenges they face and the solutions they have found. We can learn a lot from each other, and this kind of connection is important.”
If you have missed this year’s Asia-Pacific Week, don’t worry! It will be back in 2020. If you want to stay informed about what is happening in the international startup world, subscribe to the APW newsletter – and keep being posted!