CompassList is the place to discover startups and entrepreneurs with innovative solutions.
Hard numbers aside, startups often begin with a need, asking to be addressed, or a problem, asking to be solved. We offer a realistic, practical and human look at building a startup, as well as paint a bigger picture of each particular country: its market, business environment, society and culture.
In facilitating knowledge-sharing, CompassList connects key players in up-and-coming ecosystems for cross-border investments, partnerships and growth.
The entrepreneurial spirit has always been a strong aspect of Chinese culture but in the 21st century, a facet of the country that gave us printing, banknotes and the compass, has re-emerged—innovation.
Before there was Apple Pay, the Chinese had been using Alipay and WeChat Wallet for some years. Before Amazon opened its first physical store in Seattle, Chinese startups had long understood the importance of giving consumers an integrated shopping experience; they call it O2O (online-to-offline).
China’s recent leap to become a technology front runner (as opposed to a copycat) has spurred interest from all over the world. And Chinese companies like Xiaomi, Alibaba and Huawei are no longer foreign names to today’s average global consumer.
However, much of the information about Chinese startups (with the exception of the largest players) remains published solely in Chinese, and so, inaccessible to the outside world. Thus CompassList China, our first chapter, was born, to provide content and context about China’s startup and technology scene to the rest of the world—in English.
To date, there have been more than 48,000 startups in China. No doubt, a majority of them have failed while others have survived, even flourished. And no doubt too, not all their stories will be told. What CompassList does is to curate a selection of Chinese startup stories, so as to offer our readers a panorama of the most noteworthy innovations that are taking place in this vast country. And more, we hope, will continue to come our way.
With over 250 million inhabitants, Indonesia has the world’s fourth largest population, and is Southeast Asia’s largest. Aside from a young population and large labor force, the country also has a burgeoning middle class of 88 million (as of 2014)—and with it, fast-rising purchasing power.
While all those point to huge economic potential, the country’s political scene had often been a weak link. Growth and infrastructure building had focused mainly on the most populous island of Java, while graft had long been a part of bureaucracy.
In the last few years, however, the political climate has stabilised, and the economy has continued to grow. A history of the government’s under-investment in infrastructure, among other things, has created opportunities for local startups to address key problems faced by millions of Indonesians—including the country’s very first startup unicorn. The current government—led by President Joko Widodo—has also pledged to support and invest in local startups through various policies and the establishment of the Creative Economy Agency (BEKRAF), paving the way for more growth.
This has spurred renewed interest in the country from the rest of the world. While there is available information in English, context is missing: considering its unique problems and diversity, local understanding is very important. Thus, CompassList Indonesia was born as our second chapter, following CompassList China, to provide content and context about Indonesia’s startup and technology scene to the rest of the world.
As we were about to launch our chapter on Portuguese startups, good news came: Portugal had returned to fiscal health six years after its €78 billion bailout, proclaimed the European Commission. "Confidence in the Portuguese economy”, the finance ministry noted, “is beginning to be reflected by international institutions."
It’s a confidence to a large degree fired by Portuguese startups.
Back in 2011, as unemployment in Portugal soared amid the financial crisis, many of its youth had to leave the country in search of work abroad. But it was also this dearth of jobs that led many to embrace the risk of starting their own business. And in a country rich with tech expertise graduating from top institutions like the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon and the University of Porto, launching tech startups soon became all the rage.
Others who had gone abroad also returned to join in the vibrant scene. Some of them have become familiar names, including Vasco Pedro (Unbabel), Jaime Jorge (Codacy) and Daniel Araújo (Attentive).
Today, Portugal is back on its feet again, clocking economic growth for 13 consecutive quarters, and counting. The local startup scene is thriving. Lisbon was named the fifth most attractive startup hub in Europe in 2016, according to a European Startup Initiative study. The same year, Europe’s largest tech conference, the Web Summit, relocated to the Portuguese capital, attracting some 50,000 attendees. Aware of the pivotal role startups have played in this economic revival, the government has committed €200 million to co-invest in local startups.
Whether it’s Veniam, whose vehicular mesh networks are powering New York and Singapore toward becoming smart cities; the Citigroup-backed Feedzai, who is fraud-spotting for financial institutions across Europe and the US; or cloud-based Talkdesk transforming call centers into growth opportunities – Portuguese startups offer a range of tech innovations that could shape our world tomorrow.
Their ambitions are global, too. Constrained by a small local market but buoyed by the nation’s naval tradition and past glory as a global trading power, Portuguese startups instinctively set their sights far. For, as the Portuguese poet Pessoa declared: "Navegar é preciso" (“Going out to sea is necessary”).