The merger will form a wider platform for the startups in central and south east Asia
START Mongolia and StartupJohor, the ecosystem developers in their own region, have merged together into a unified brand, START. The merger is unique as it combines the vision of building a global acceleration hub for startups in Johor region of Malaysia and becoming the gateway to global expansion for Mongolian startups.
The merger will create a synergy between the two ecosystems. The idea of merger became inevitable to each party when the hubs were promoting their startups overseas. So, given the potential for further ecosystem development and market reach, the new START brand will bring mutual benefits to startups in Mongolia and Malaysia in the area of market reach, product testing, operational synergy, investor and partnership diversification.
The collaboration of START Mongolia and StartupJohor also highlights the strong community building aspects of each player. StartupJohor, established in 2014 and has dedicated in building startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem in southern region of Malaysia, has multiple signature programmes under its umbrella and incubates its startup companies in its five co-working offices in Johor Bahru and Iskandar Puteri, Johor.
Similarly, START Mongolia, since its establishment in 2011 as Startup Mongolia NGO and WorkCentral Mongolia, renowned itself as a nationwide ecosystem developer with community building programmes in the startup community and track record in the corporate world. START Mongolia incubates companies with a global aim in its three co-working offices in Ulaanbaatar, and it has launched its first co-working and incubator in Darkhan, the centre for the northern region of Mongolia.
“In general, the markets in central Asian region have had a limited exposure to the global startup ecosystem. However, in Mongolia, the home-grown startups, given the high internet and smartphone usage and culture to adopt new technology, are altering the landscape intensively in this region. Tech and startup arena in Mongolia already have given birth to home-grown Fintech, Martech, Insurtech and blockchain startups. On the local stock exchange, number of microfinancing fintechs and blockchain tech companies have successfully raised funding through IPO,” said Zolboo Bayarsaikhan, the CEO of START Mongolia.
“Many great companies are coming up from Johor Bahru. These companies have acquired and raised substantial funding and are on the path to IPO in the local stock exchange and we are seeing a clear trend and movement that many best startup may not necessarily come out from first-tier cities such as Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. There is a rising amount of great companies from tier-two cities or even countries as well,” said Feng Lim, CEO of START Malaysia a.k.a. StartupJohor.
“Following this changing landscape, the traditional business are keen to digitize their business operations, but in most industries, the tech solutions, and corporate culture and structure to deal with the outcome are not readily available. This is where START Mongolia has the team, expertise and community to help them. Now through this merger, START is setting up the channel for the rest of Asia to enter into rapidly changing startup ecosystem and market of Mongolia & Central Asia,” said Zolboo.
“There are many resources that focuses on big corporations but we also want to extend the same capability and empower more startups and SME that digitize their businesses, down from culture transformation, technology innovation as well as merger & acquisitions, that is where we could empower them by combining the resources and integrate into a global platform,” added Feng.
The merger further expands the existing market reach for both parties. StartupJohor is based in Iskandar Malaysia, the southern economic development region of Johor, Malaysia. The city is strategically located beside Singapore and Indonesia that allows companies based within to have an easy access to the market opportunities in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Southeast Asian countries. This strategic location along with a relatively cost effective environment compared to neighbouring Singapore with a ready-built world-class infrastructure in Medini, Iskandar Puteri that will be a gateway for Mongolian startups to expand their operations to overseas market.
Furthermore, Mongolia’s distinct geographical location, and East European and Asian cultural mixture will be a gateway for Malaysian startups into Central Asia. So, Mongolia’s location in between Russia and China will be a gateway to markets beyond Mongolia, eastern region of Russia and Stan countries.
In the future, START will showcase Mongolian and Malaysian startups to investors synchronise their operations, best practices of ecosystem building and database platform comprises of the two ecosystems. On the innovation front, START will open tech-driven hubs and expand into corporate innovation programmes.