Though Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and benefits from a youthful, tech-savvy population, the region’s startup ecosystem is still in its infancy and many founders lack resources. The freshly launched BootstrapAccelerator Asia seeks to address that gap. Founded by San Francisco-based seed and venture capital fund BootstrapLabs and Malaysia’s MAD Incubator, BootstrapAccelerator Asia is currently seeking startups that have the potential for global expansion.
The year-long program will focus on “early-stage capital efficient startups that leverage the speed of Internet distribution and the scalability of cloud infrastructure,” bringing promising candidates to Silicon Valley.
Foreign startups that BootstrapLabs has previously relocated to Silicon Valley include Prezi, Witsbits, AudioDraft and Zerply, which have raised a combined $25 million in funding. MAD (Make A Difference) Incubator is the largest private incubator in Malaysia, with the goal of helping 1,000 startups achieve a $1 million turnover by 2015. BootstrapAccelerator Asia is supported by Malaysia’s Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the government group that directs and oversees the country’s National Information and Communication Technology Initiative.
BootstrapAccelerator Asia’s startups will receive cash and other benefits valued at over $35,000. Instead of organizing startups into cohorts, the accelerator will evaluate candidates on a monthly basis and enroll new participants at the relative stage of their development.
Though BootstrapAccelerator Asia will draw its startups from across sectors, Benjamin Levy, a partner at BoostrapLabs, says the firm has seen “a surge in mobile, Internet Web services, software as a service and gaming products” in the region.
“We are equally excited in seeing innovations from the Internet of Things, big data and B2C that leverages on the Internet/mobile and cloud infrastructure, bringing tremendous amounts of scalability and market reach towards regional and global markets in Southeast Asia,” Levy adds.
As BootstrapAccelerator Asia’s mentors work with startup teams, they will keep an eye out for companies that have the potential to reach a worldwide market. But Levy says there are plenty of exciting growth opportunities in Southeast Asia.
The region’s startup ecosystem may still be in its infancy, but founders benefit from the close proximity of its countries, which reduces the cost of doing business across different markets. As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economy becomes more integrated with the ASEAN Economic Community, entrepreneurs will also enjoy the advantages of greater trade liberalization and open economies, Levy says.
“Being accepted in this accelerator means that in our view they are good potentials for the SE Asian market, markets such as Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam,” he says. “Our goal over time is to build our network platform in these countries so that it will be easy leverage for our accelerator startups.”
Startups can apply here. The application deadline is May 30 and the first enrollment begins on July 2.
Eric Schmidt has kicked off a mini Asia tour in India by calling on the government to stop pursuing control of the Internet and instead focus on how technology can help the population and local businesses.
Google has confirmed that Schmidt, who is scheduled to visit Myanmar in addition to other unnamed countries across the continent, is already in India as he prepares to speak at The Guardian’s Big Tent Activate India event in New Delhi on March 21. In a byline posted to the Times of India, the Google Executive chairman appealed to the Indian government to change its focus and be positive about the Internet.
India has invested considerable energy trying to police the Web in the past eighteen months or so. A proposal to introduce real-time content monitoring drew controversy in late 2011, while its legal system has housed a number of cases against Internet firms like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter. The companies stood accused of allowing unsuitable content to exist on India Web space.
Avoiding any direct mention of the cases and the conflict between maintaining Indian culture while allowing freedom of expression, Schmidt focuses his editorial on the choice between the open or closed Web:
Almost one billion of [the world's new Internet users in the next ten years] will come online in India. They will have different needs from people online today and expect different things from the internet. Now is the moment for India to decide what kind of internet it wants for them: an open internet that benefits all or a highly regulated one that inhibits innovation.
The past 10 years show that the safest economic, social and political bet is on openness. Where there is a free and open Web, where there is unbridled technological progress, where information can be disseminated and consumed freely, society flourishes.
He provides examples of of this benefit, citing specific Google programs in India — the Google+ Hangout with the country’s finance minister, and Women Entrepreneurs on the Web, a program being piloted in India — and the benefits of long distance learning, video communication, and more.
Equally, Schmidt argues, the Internet can enable local businesses — and startups in particular — to flourish. The Web gives them a platform to take their businesses international, and explore vast potential that an offline world simply cannot offer provide:
The most striking Indian internet innovations won’t come from big institutions or companies moving online, however. They will come from Indians solving local problems. We know that India’s internet infrastructure allows Indian engineers to solve the problems of small businesses in other countries. If India plays its cards right, we’ll soon see Indian engineers and Indian small businesses tackling Indian problems first, then exporting the solutions that work best.
In a similar vein to his comments about the potential for greater access to technology in North Korea — which is clearly a more extreme example than India — Schmidt says that the Internet can only improve the situation and society in a country:
India could reap a huge dividend from the Internet’s growth — the same one other countries have realized, or are about to. In all the places I’ve traveled to, I’ve yet to see a country whose situation worsened with the arrival of the internet.
That’s an important point since Indian courts and politicians have previously voiced their keenness to introduce a Chinese style censorship policy to keep negative influences away. Schmidt does acknowledge that not every aspect of the Internet is good, but his parting comment warns that ”in seeking to control all of [the Internet, India authorities will] stop good Indians from doing great things”.
You can read the full byline here.
Headline image via Spencer Platt / Getty Images
This is a guest post by Chris Hollindale, co-founder and CTO of Hasty. Hasty is a seed-funded stealth startup whose mission is to improve the health of humanity.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably measuring everything you possibly can about your business and your product. It’s how you improve things – you build, you measure and you learn. Why then, should you not take this same approach with yourself?
As Dr. Piotr Wozniack says in his acclaimed essay on the science of sleep: “by cutting down on sleep, we learn less, we develop less, we are less bright, we make worse decisions, we accomplish less, we are less productive, we are more prone to errors, and we undermine our true intellectual potential!”
In order to perform to the best of your ability, you need to get good sleep and you need to get enough sleep. Good sleep enables better decision-making and faster learning, as well as reducing the risk of long-term health problems. For an entrepreneur, knowing the effect that late nights has on your sleep is particularly important – would you stay up for a couple of hours longer if you knew that it was going to mean you would sleep badly and be less productive tomorrow?
With Sleep101 (made by the sleep-tracking device maker, Zeo), not only can you get started with tracking your sleep for free, but you can also benefit from Zeo’s extensive library of expert sleep advice.
For entrepreneurs, there is always too much to do, too many things to take care of, and too many tasks to prioritise. In small start-ups especially, it is important that the limited amount of time you have is utilised wisely, and that it isn’t spread too thinly among the mountain of potential things that you could be doing at any one time.
In particular, you need to make sure that the time being spent lines up with the company’s priorities and short-term strategy, and to avoid scheduling meetings (or distractions) at times when you’re at your most productive.
This productive, uninterrupted “flow time” is crucial for the developers and designers in a small company (as an example, Asana recently announced that they have a “No Meeting Wednesdays” rule to encourage flow time). By tracking when this flow time typically occurs, it’s easier to design a schedule that minimises interruptions and allows makers to get more done.
I used to work as a consultant in London, where I despised filling in timesheets. Now an entrepreneur, I’ve come full circle. I use RescueTime to passively track what applications I’m using and what websites I’m spending time on – it even handily graphs and charts the data it collects for me. With RescueTime, I get all the benefits of being able to measure and improve my productivity, without any data entry pain at all.
RescueTime (Mac, Windows & Android; free and paid plans)
I find myself being overflowed with ideas over the course of the day, from wacky new product ideas to ways in which I can optimise a specific section of code.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to track and harness those ideas that can make a positive difference to your company, no matter when they happen to arrive. It could be anything: over the last few days I’ve had ideas for new product features, potential advertising campaigns, strategies for hiring the right type of people to fit into our team, and ways of creating the company culture we want to build. They’re all important, and they all need recording.
I’ve found Workflowy to be the easiest and best tool for tracking my ideas – and its mobile versions allow me to note down ideas as and when they arrive, wherever I am. It’s an incredibly simple product, and sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
Workflowy (Web & iOS; free)
If you really want to know your own body and truly quantify yourself, there is no better place to go than WellnessFX, whose service provides you with a more comprehensive health diagnosis than you could ever wish for. From just a drop of your blood, they can calculate your cholesterol, inflammation and nutrient levels, and over twenty other actionable data points.
Entrepreneurs lead an extreme lifestyle: working hard, working late and enduring many stresses, frustrations and failures is a tough business. As such, it makes sense to know that you’re not putting yourself at any kind of long-term risk. A particular cause of concern for entrepreneurs is caffeine intake – wouldn’t you want to know if all that coffee was causing adverse effects to your immune system? Additional caffeine might help you get some extra work done, but if it puts you at a greater risk of falling ill, is it really a worthwhile trade-off?
The analytics provided by WellnessFX can give you a detailed understanding of your own health, warn of any potential health risks, and is a great preventative measure. WellnessFX also provides tailored dietary recommendations in order to help you out where you have areas for improvement.
WellnessFX (Limited US states; Baseline package: $199)
In terms of your health, food consumption is the most important metric to be tracking – “you are what you eat.” If you have aspirations to feel fitter, healthier and more energetic, you should start by addressing the food that you’re eating.
Tracking everything that you eat, no matter how small, is an eye-opening experience. Did you know that Domino’s have a pizza on their menu that contains 3840 calories? Or that there are ten teaspoons of sugar in a can of Coke? When you add them up over the course of days, weeks and months, some of these nutritional figures can be frightening.
For entrepreneurs, feeling healthy and energized is not a choice; it’s a pre-requisite. By tracking what you eat with an app like MyFitnessPal, you become more self-accountable, which makes it easier to make lasting changes to your food consumption. There are many beneficial applications for entrepreneurs, from making sure your diet is not negatively affecting your energy levels to monitoring your net calorific consumption in order to help you lose weight.
But while MyFitnessPal allows you to track your food consumption, it doesn’t do it for you passively. A much-needed innovation in the food tracking space is a product that can ease the data entry burden.
MyFitnessPal (Web, iOS & Android; free)
Self-tracking is easy, and as per the 80-20 rule, you’ll get most of the benefit simply by getting started. As an entrepreneur you’re already aware of the benefits of measuring, learning and improving – why not get started today and use this same philosophy with more of your own life?
Excerpt from: Top 5 quantified self apps for entrepreneurs
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the hyperlinked World Wide Web, isn’t entirely happy with what he has helped create — and has thrown down the gauntlet to web developers to come up with more disruptive forms of online communication that can break down cultural not just geographical barriers.
Talking about the web as it is today, rather than the “collaborative tool” he originally designed, he said: ”World peace has not miraculously occurred. People still mainly talk to their neighbours, people still mainly talk to the people who have the same religion, and the same culture, so for all its breaking down geographical boundaries in principle it hasn’t really broken down cultural boundaries. Can we develop systems on the web which will actually help solve that sort of challenge?”
Berners-Lee was speaking in an interview at the World Economic Forum today, entitled ‘what’s wrong with social networking?’ but he joked the title had been cooked up merely to draw in the crowds.
“As a universal platform the web wasn’t supposed to dictate what you did with it,” he told his audience in Davos. “The world wide web is a platform and humanity does what it can with it… There’s lots of people who think we could do more. What do we really want to get out of this web thing? What do we really want to get out of human communication?”
While it began as a collaborative tool, the web subsequently took off as a publishing medium — or it did to a “certain extent”, said Berners-Lee, pointing to the fact that publishing online remains a relatively elite activity and therefore, again, does not live up to his original collaborative vision for a truly global web.
“We’ve got wikis, we’ve got blogs, but still most people… aren’t publishing on the web. And actually when you go to most places you’re not in a position where you can take place in the conversation very much. Sometimes you can comment but actually the comment tends to be at a second level,” he said.
Asked about the erosion of online openness threatened by walled garden social networks, Berners-Lee said the networks both help humanity by providing the data that enables computers to help people but also highlighted how there is “a lot of frustration, from a lot of people” that they can’t connect up the personal data they have entered into different services in all the ways they might like to.
“Each of these social network systems is a silo so there is a frustration that I’ve told it all my data but I don’t have access to that,” he said.
Despite yearning for more openness and fewer shackles stifling the free flow of online data, Berners-Lee was careful to say he was not calling for an online data free-for-all. There do need to be “reasonable boundaries”, he accepted — whether it’s sensitive personal or government or military data. “The web isn’t about just sharing everything, destroying privacy… [but] if I want to share something with you it shouldn’t be the technology that gets in the way.”
Turning to the economic argument, Berners-Lee conceded there is a problem with current online business models — especially when it comes to finding ways to pay musicians. The web should be “about spreading culture, music and getting payment back to musicians”, he said. ” We’ve got to find new ways of doing that.”
Specifically he called for new protocols to be developed to support online payments. “We need to find a whole lot of new business models — I think we should develop new payment protocols so that when you’re using a web browser it’s a lot easier to pay for things.”
He also argued for the economic value in opening up data that is unnecessarily locked away, pointing to a U.K. initiative to open up government data so that the citizens who have paid for the data to be created in the first place can have the benefit of using it — and use it to create new businesses. “You’re making a great common good, that’s making the world run more efficiently,” he argued.
Likewise, he argued that the benefit to humanity of opening up scientific data — to “scientists everywhere” — would be “huge”. ”It’s a question of unlocking this potential that we really already have — it’s getting huge benefit for very little cost,” he said.
Berners-Lee was also asked about Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who was arrested for downloading academic journals and subsequently committed suicide — and argued that Swartz’s tragedy is an example of what can happen when “legislation gets too strong”.
“He was an incredibly ethical person. He thought a huge amount about what was right and how the world should be… but because [the FBI] saw that what he was doing was accessing a computer system there seems to be a deep suspicion of that,” he said.
“He used his programming to try to make a point, in a way as a protest. But they ended up using a very unfair law which had been changed from its original form which said that if you break into a computer system in any way then you are guilty of a felony… People are thinking now about that law, and there already proposals to change it.”
“To be a hacker — when I use the term — is somebody who is creative and does wonderful things,” Berners-Lee added. “We need more coders, we need more people who understand how to put data online.”
Despite the efforts of many different organizers over the years software developers have resisted unionization. The relatively high pay and good working conditions of developers, the stereotype of geeks as loners and the general decline of unions in the U.S. are all commonly cited reasons. But maybe unions are failing in tech because they’re not addressing the real issue: giving developers more control over their work life.
Developers want autonomy. They don’t want to be jerked around by stupid managers who impose unrealistic deadlines, make impossible promises to clients and just generally disrespect their employees. Historically developers have had two options for dealing with bad management: find a better job or found a startup. But worker self-management would offer a third options — give the developers control over their own work.
Companies like Valve prove that self-management can work in the software industry. Unionization could potentially provide a path to that sort of workplace structure, if organizers can move up Maslow’s pyramid a bit.
Today workers tend to think of unions merely as organizations that negotiate salaries and benefits with big corporations. Workers who make decent salaries — as developers tend to — have less incentive to try collective bargaining at the risk of getting shit-canned. Workers have also come to distrust unions. They also tend to think of a union as something that takes away their workplace freedom, not something that gives them the ability to have more control over their day to day work life.
But The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), today a more “fringe” union in the shadow of the AFL-CIO, has long promoted workplace democracy as a value. The union started out in 1905 and was prominent throughout the early 20th centur. After a series of unfortunate events its membership declined, but the organization has been staging a come back. It’s probably known best known in recent years for its efforts to organize Starbucks in New York City.
The IWW has a decentralized model that it seems that developers could get behind. Members don’t have a to have a contract with their employers — in other words, you can be a member of the IWW even if your company isn’t officially unionized. And you can actually be a member of both the IWW and another union. Most importantly, the union emphasizes worker self-management over just cutting deals with the bosses.
I’m not saying that worker self-management is the only reason to unionize. Most workers will have more immediately compensation and security concerns. And even developers can benefit from wage and benefits negotiations.
Some engineers’ salaries have passed the six figure mark, and companies are offering signing bonuses and perks such as island vacations. Offshoring has become less of a concern, and our own Jon Evans thinks it will be at least 10 until U.S. developer wages are driven down by international competition.
Yet in pretty much any discussion thread about the developer shortage you’ll find people who claim the real issue is that companies are demanding too much experience for too little pay. This comment on Hacker News is typical: “We’ve gotten plenty of good candidates in our doors that turn us down because our pay is barely competitive and our health insurance is terrible. Pay more money and you can attract more tech workers.”
And that’s not to mention the long hours many programmers are asked or required to work, despite research indicating that overtime may be counter productive.
Meanwhile, large companies still hire hordes of contract workers who don’t get the same benefits as full-time employees. The term “precarity” in labor lingo means temporary and/or intermittent work. It usually refers to lower paying work than the typical tech contract, but many developers could be getting short changed.
But these issues don’t seem to be the ones that will rally developers into action. Various groups have tired to organize developers and other tech workers over the years. The most notable is WashTech, an Communications Workers Of America (CWA) which is itself affiliated with the AFL-CIO. WashTech was founded in 1998 in response to Microsoft’spervasive use of permatemps.
In 2003 the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers started the seemingly now defunct CyberLodge. Its founder, Ian Lurie,, told The Register that the idea was to create something more like an open source trade guild than a union.
And then there’s Communications and Computer Workers Industrial Union 560 (iu560), which is part of the IWW. Like the CWA, the iu560 is open not just to developers but to technical and telecommunications workers.
Steve Ayers, a programmer and IWW member, says that the stereotype of developers as loners is not entirely accurate. He cites, for example, open source development, which is a type of collaborative endeavor meant to bring about a collective good. Ayers describes open source as communism with a lowercase “c.”
And even in cases where the stereotype fits, there’s a history of workers banding together. “Timber Workers were stereotyped as lone ‘Paul Bunyan’ types, but the Timber Workers became one of the largest Industrial Unions in the IWW and one of it’s most successful,” he says.
“I have found that workers will be receptive or not receptive to organizing largely on how its presented to them,” he says. “If one walks up to a worker and asks ‘Would you like to form a Union?’ they’re not going to be receptive. But, if you talk to them about their job and the problems they face, and then ask them if they want to do something about it they are much more receptive. I think this speaks more to the labor movement in the US then the tech industry.”
It could be that union’s just have an insurmountable branding problem, having been vilified for so long. And the IWW’s position on the leftist fringe may turn off many more right leaning workers. But there’s a model there that could be emulated. It’s a starting point at least.
See more here: Want To Unionize Developers? Focus On Workplace Democracy