Southeast Asia scores high for expat e-commerce startups

Published:  29 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: Thailand, Euro
Asia’s southeastern countries have long been hubs for backpackers and wandering expats looking for unique life experiences, but they’re now favourite destinations for digital nomads looking to build online e-commerce businesses.

Until recently, Southeast Asian destinations such as Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam had little to offer as regards reliable internet services, but the 21st century digitising revolution has now arrived. According to one investor, the region’s potential as an e-commerce hub for expat-run start-ups was obvious as far back as 2009, and is now spawning entrepreneurs eager to maximise their takings with as little work as possible.

Most digital nomads now making it happen in Southeast Asia grew up in Western countries and were an enthusiastic part of the internet explosion. The knowledge and expertise they gained made the perfect basis for tailoring online products to a huge variety of local markets, and the affordability of resources in Southeast Asia ensures new start-ups are comfortable financially.

Diversity and mobility are keys to success for the new expat entrepreneurs. Cheap flights across the region allow changes of location based on the changes in direction of businesses, and co-working facilities are growing fast as a result.

For recently arrived expat entrepreneurs, Chiang Mai in Thailand is proving a popular hub for its cheap cost of living and expanding digital nomad community, most of whom are into lifestyle businesses. Once their online business is secure, many expats feel the need to change locations to an established hub such as Singapore in order to access major co-working spaces and think big about the next step.

Others find the social life in Saigon an attraction, and Kuala Lumpur is known for its vibrant local start-up community. The beauty of this highly individual way of life is that e-commerce entrepreneurs have the freedom to work in diverse environments across the entire Southeast Asian region.
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