RISE Day 3 Takeaways

Hello friends,

Well, the final day of RISE Hong Kong is wrapped and we've listened to perhaps the broadcast day of programming yet - from plant-based meat alternatives to K-pop to the evolution of Tinder, there was a lot to dig into. So let's get to it!

Oh and given that Giphy founder Alex Chung told me that Mailchimp reported an 80% higher response rate on emails that include gifs, I'm going use gifs for all the visual content instead...

Online expression is evolving from thinking to feeling

Giphy founder Alex Chung explored how conversation is evolving from factual and textural to visual and emotional. "There's 99% more words that nobody searches for on Google that what they do - how do we create these expressions in an online environment?"  

With over 500 million daily users sending over 7 billion gifs per day, Giphy does about 15% of Google's search traffic - but the key difference is the searches are based on verbs; feelings, actions and emotions - instead of things. By merging network and content, they're hoping to build their own messaging platform, to cater for how they're seeing communication through the myriad of messaging apps they're now on develop. 

Chung's golden roles for conversational content:

  • It has to be relatable; something that means something to the reader
  • It has to be expressive; people want to be able to express themselves through content
  • It has to be about experiences; about cultural moments or common points of reference
  • Most importantly, it has to be entertaining. "If something isn't entertaining it's not useful for anyone, because it's boring" said Chung.

The Rise of Super Apps

The discussion around 'Super Apps' has been prevalent throughout RISE but today many of the speakers spoke explicitly to the impact of these Super Apps in emergent markets.

A discussion of the startup scene in southeast Asia explored the ongoing competition between their two fastest-growing Super Apps - Go-Jek and Grab. While both apps started out as ride-sharing apps, they've since evolved to offer everything from groceries to mortgages to cleaning to makeovers (Fortune wrote a good explainer here). 

But just because these Super Apps are expanding into every service imaginable, long term economic success isn't a given. "The correct way to define a Super App is a platform that enables one business - or ten, or a hundred - to do their own individual business through the platform, and that hasn't been achieved yet in any app" said SE Asian-based investor Dmitry Levit of Cento Ventures. While Super Apps might seem to fulfil a specific use case for developing countries, the interest from China with Alipay and WeChat suggests these types of apps may break through into global markets in the future. 

Why SE Asia might be the next Silicon Valley

With the emergence of countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam as potential tech powerhouses, and Hong Kong and Singapore spawning their very own unicorns, there's a sense that the impact of SE Asia on the global tech market is only just beginning.

Travel experiences platform Klook had a booth at RISE just five years ago, now they're the first HK-listed unicorn. Co-founder Eric Gnock Fah said the bulk of their investment - over 500 million - has been invested in the last 12-18 months alone. "Chinese companies are looking to globalise and many of the business models in China and SE Asia can be exported globally, which is changing the market of fundraising" he said, noting that in the end, capital is fluid and can be attracted anywhere if you have the right product/market fit.

Investors agreed, describing a 'leapfrog impact of innovation' that is jumping forward in these emergent markets, despite language differences, multiple governments and regulatory systems.

"The industrial revolution may have started in London and the software revolution may have started in Silicon Valley, but now it's spreading everywhere and Southeast Asia may very well drive the next revolution"  said VC Cody Simms of Techstars.

Don't have 1 product, have 200 and be prepared for 199 to fail

"People who bet on one product are the most likely to fail" said Alex Chung of Giphy. "We've had over 200 products, but most people don't know about them because most of those products failed."

While 'fail fast, fail often' has become a cliche in the startup world, being able to iterate and refine quickly has been a recurring piece of advice from speakers at RISE. Giphy had a online payment system that didn't work out. Stripe shelved taking cryptocurrencies the first time round when their users didn't rate it. And even Carlsberg's CCO said being able to admit to their audience that "probably the best beer in the world" wasn't something that their customers actually believed (even though it was a longrunning tagline) freed them up to own what they did wrong and fix it, delivering improved commercial results. 

But if you're going to fail, do it early on. "Fail a bunch of times and do it quickly, when it's the least costly, because as you become large the mistakes are much more costly" said Uber CTO Thuan Pham. "Mistakes early on are fast and cheap and will make you smarter quicker."

Thanks so much for reading our insights this week!

We've heard from some incredible brands over the past few days - and if you'd like to hear from some more incredible brands on a local level, you can come along to our upcoming talk in partnership with Marketing Mag and General Assembly, featuring Mercedes-Benz Vans, Hey Tiger, PARK and Thankyou!

Tickets are free and you can register here.

Finally, if you've enjoyed these daily debriefs but want to get a deeper look at the global trends that are shaping innovation from Asia to Europe, come along to our free insights event at Creative Cubes on July 24th.

Insights from Monocle + RISE

Keen to join our Insights breakfast on Monocle and RISE on Wednesday 24th July at Creative Cubes Richmond from 7.30am - 9am?
Just click to register your RSVP below. 
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