Silicon Valley is justifiably seen as the geographical center of digital innovation. From Google and Facebook to Uber and Netflix, the Valley is home to many global technology leaders. However, when searching for the next big startup, the time has come to look beyond Silicon Valley.
It seems that most Western startups are focused on “assisted living for rich hipsters” rather than solving some of the “big” needs the world is facing.
In the next five years, 2.5 billion new smartphone users will come online — 80 percent from emerging markets. This will inevitably lead to growing numbers of local entrepreneurs creating innovative solutions bespoke to the needs of their region and, in the process, building highly successful businesses. It’s highly likely that, in the future, some of the biggest digital innovations will come from markets outside of the West.
This trend has already started; an example can be found in our portfolio company redBus in India. Before redBus, travellers in India had to negotiate myriad bus companies with conflicting timetables, resulting in immense confusion when working out the various connections needed for cross-country trips. redBus aggregated this complex market onto one simple bus ticketing platform for all of India. It is now being rolled out to Malaysia, Singapore and other international markets.
GO-JEK is another shining example. This company has mobilized more than 200,000 motorbike riders in 10 major Indonesian cities to solve a number of logistics requirements, from couriering to food delivery.