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Moving Out Of The U.S.? 4 Reasons To Consider Starting Up In Asia

November 9, 2016

Google searches for “move to Canada” from the U.S. have soared in the last twelve hours.

If you’re thinking about moving out of the U.S., could Asia be the destination for you?

We’ve outlined some reasons starting up in Asia can be your next best choice:

1. You can keep overall costs low

In Asia, your cash lasts longer (ie. low burn rate) for various reasons:

a) Cost of living is much, much lower

The map below by Expatistan, a cost of living comparison site, illustrates the cost of living of cities in Asia:
The color of the markers corresponds with the cost of living in the city. Red markers show more expensive cities, green ones show cheaper cities. Compare that with the 3 major cities in the U.S. where the cost of living index are way off the charts!

b) Lower cost to employ talent

Depending on where choose to base your office, salary levels can be half or even less than half of median salaries in the U.S. Talent mobility in Asia is high; ie. even if you choose to incorporate in cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore you will still have the ability to access a remarkable talent pool from the rest of the region.

Source: Sandbox Advisors

c) Lower tax liabilities

Corporate income tax rate in the U.S. stands approximately at 40% (KPMG), more than double of that of Hong Kong (16.5%), where the Inland Revenue Department only requires companies to pay profit tax. In Singapore, newly-incorporated businesses further enjoy tax exemptions for their first S$100,000 chargeable income for the first three years.

All of the above factors help keep the initial costs of running your startup low, so you will be able to have a longer run rate (and hence more time to raise additional funding).

2) Money is all around

Governments in Asia have invested in various initiatives to attract investors to the region. Besides your typical angels and VCs, the startup industry is also fueled by interest from the big boys with corporations, banks, and medical industries running their own accelerator programmes and innovation labs.

Related reading: The ultimate guide to the startup community in Singapore

A recent Tech in Asia online panel also revealed the ongoing uptrend of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) receiving funding in India and the rest of Southeast Asia:

Source: Tech in Asia

U.S.-headquartered venture capital firm 500 Startups has also been quick to the game with the launch of its second fund in Southeast Asia, 500 Durians II, investing between $50,000-150,000 in seed-stage firms, and have follow-on investments of up to $500,000 for those showing great progress.

Additional resources: Map of the Money – Singapore

3) Innovation is everywhere

According to a McKinsey Podcast, companies in Asia are transforming their digital operations to great effect and building some of the world’s most successful tech giants. A few factors make the impact of digital more pronounced than in other markets, including social penetration, consumers’ openness to new technologies and the mobile Internet, and willingness by companies to innovate.

But the opportunities aren’t limited to technology. A recent article by The Entrepreneur also gave praise to rising economies in Asian countries, creating endless business opportunities in a multitude of industries.

In fact, Asia is now home to some of the hottest and most disruptive technological innovations.

4) Think long-term growth: Access to emerging markets

According to the International Monetary Fund, emerging economies are expected to grow two to three times faster than developed nations such as the U.S.. American companies know this very well – the fastest-growing American companies in the past year have their non-U.S. markets to thank for their quick growth.

The same article also predicts that emerging markets will account for 70% of world growth over the next few years, with China and India accounting for 40% of that growth.

Many organisations have also picked business hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore to incorporate their company and access the rest of the region from here. In Asia, the process is fully-digitised and can take only 2 to 5 days!

All in all, it is high time to consider moving your start-up to Asia – where you can enjoy cheaper operations, more investors, an innovation-driven culture, where you can build and expand your own business in the long-term.

So if you’re thinking of making a move out of the U.S., why not consider embarking on an entrepreneurial journey in Asia?

Take the first step to managing law online and
access reliable legal documents for use in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Check out Dragon Law’s latest plan for Startups:
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LinkedIn Alternatives: 10 Lesser-Known Platforms For Professionals To Network Online

November 8, 2016

Networking is possibly the most important commercial skill that will define the way businesses work in the future.

The interesting aspect about networking is that it’s one of those things that most entrepreneurs know they should do but almost never really find time to.

With the Internet technology scene being almost explosive in its innovations and advances, networking isn’t just the big conference in that expensive hotel with the free drinks that it once used to be (although no one really ever complained about the open bar).

Networking today can be a quiet afternoon in your virtual office space, conversing with that buyer who is 300 miles away that you’ve been so desperately looking for. And, of course, we all know LinkedIn. But are there any other online platforms that allow you to connect with more professionals in the comfort of your own office? We find out:

1) YouNoodle

Your competitors are, of course, a threat to the success of your startup. But healthy competition, especially one that will shine the spotlight on your brand, can be a bridge to helping you access more ideas, wider networks, and funding opportunities, opening a whole new world of possibilities for growth.

Source: YouNoodle

2) EFactor

Here you have access to a deep pool of funding knowledge, mentorship opportunities and great tips for finding the right business resources for you. Online networking (we do love virtual everything don’t we) to get you connected and recognised.

Save time – do more online:

Sign up for a Dragon Law free trial and Upload, Sign, Share, and Store – all online:


Get started for free

3) MicroMentor

Let’s start with the best part – it’s free! Volunteer mentors offer free advice for your business questions. They’re experienced and did I mention, it’s free?

Source: Micromentor

4) Startups Anonymous

Let’s face it – sometimes, the ONE thing that keeps us from reaching our goals is asking the questions we may think are – well – for lack of a better word, dumb. Shouldn’t I already know this? I should really already KNOW this! Good news is, instead of setting up a dummy profile on Quora, you can ask away those questions here. People gather to share their experiences (some qualify as outright venting) of building their businesses, founders and investors communicate what drives their successes – pretty much anything you want to know.

Read Chris Sykesanswer

5) TheFunded

TheFunded.com is an online community of over 20,000 CEOs, Founders and entrepreneurs to discuss fundraising, rate and review angel investors and venture capitalists, and discuss strategies to grow a startup business.

Most startups need seed investments for ongoing growth; and convertible notes are a brilliant new way to obtain the required funding without giving up control of your business. Take a look at how convertible notes work.

Download our FREE eBook on Early Stage Funding

6) CoFoundersLab

Looking for that particular something? Talent? Resources? Skill sets? CoFoundersLab is the all-in-one platform for you to find new business partners, connect with others, sign up for courses, and get certified – all online.

Source: Digital Marketing and Growth Hacks Tricks, CoFoundersLab

7) Gust

This website allows you to create a startup profile for to reach a global community of investors and entrepreneurs. You can, in particular, connect with people within your own geographical vicinity.

8) Startup Nation

This is your one-stop solution to crowd-sourcing tactics, marketing, social media and more. They have various active discussions along with a unique Radio program that allows you to tune in on the go!

9) Startup Weekend

Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, this is THE place for the coolest and freshest young minds who come together for 54 hours to experience the highs, lows, and pressure that make a startup. Held frequently in college campuses, as always, you’ll get plenty of food and swag throughout the weekend.

If you’re unsure about getting your foot into the magical realm of startups, this is an amazing experience and chance to get a taste of the startup world.

Bonus: Free food and drinks. All the soda, energy drinks and coffee you’ll ever need.

10) Founderdating

Really, when you start your startup – it becomes everything in your life. So much so that you might as well be in a relationship with it? Yes? Connect to get real advice from entrepreneurs, startup founders, and company advisors. Industry experts gather to back you up with their own experiences of success and failure – so why not learn a thing or two?

Which of these platforms are you already on, or maybe we missed out a few of your favourites? Tell us, we’d like to know!

Submit a guest article for Dragon Law’s blog

 

Navigating The Regulatory Challenges Of #FinTech

November 7, 2016

FinTech communities in Hong Kong and Singapore are coming together at the moment to celebrate exciting new developments in the field of FinTech with the Hong Kong FinTech Week and the Singapore FinTech Festival. Financial technology, or FinTech, refers to the evolving intersection of financial services and technology. FinTech in the APAC region is growing. According to an Accenture report, FinTech investment in Asia-Pacific more than quadrupled in 2015 to $4.3 billion and is now the second biggest region for FinTech investment after North America. Everyone is fighting for a finger in the pie – these tech-driven financial services are provided by startups, technology companies, and even incumbent financial institutions.

 

With growing support for FinTech in the Asian financial hubs of Singapore and Hong Kong, now is an exciting time to be in FinTech. Singapore’s strong commitment to being a FinTech leader and build a ‘Smart Financial Centre’ is evident in its efforts to nurture the FinTech space.

In a speech at the Singapore Forum earlier this year, the Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Mr Ravi Menon, stated that the MAS was committed to actively engaging FinTech firms to better understand emerging innovations and help them design their solutions for financial services, allowing financial institutions to experiment with new technologies in a safe environment and promoting greater inter-operability within the industry to harness the full potential of technology.

In Hong Kong, there is growing collaboration between financial institutions and FinTech startups, with the former establishing incubators and accelerator programmes such as the DBS Accelerator and SuperCharger to bring themselves closer to the local startup community and discover innovative solutions to meet their needs. A McKinsey article identified six emerging FinTech trends in China that will continue to drive the industry’s growth:

  1. Mobile payment and wealth management. While payment is the most mature sector in Internet finance, there is still room to grow, especially in the areas of online-to-offline mobile payment via smartphones and near-field communication payment.
  2. Online consumer and SME finance. As young Chinese consumers are early adopters and more open to online personal finance products, while SMEs contribute a significant share of GDP and employment, FinTech is set to capture these markets.
  3. B2B Internet finance. The needs of Chinese companies are growing more complex, going beyond borrowing to transaction banking and asset management, all of which FinTech is primed to capitalise on.
  4. Financial cloud and infrastructure. Cloud-based services are more cost-effective, as they allow customers to easily access information with minimal upfront and overhead spending, and provide greater flexibility, as they can be quickly scaled up or down.
  5. Big data application. Big data allows financial institutions to collect and analyse customer data and provide more tailored products and services through a personalised marketing experience. 
  6. Disruptive technology. Disruptive technologies such as blockchain and smart contracts will enable point-to-point transactions without a clearing intermediary, thereby reducing transaction time and cost.

Source: McKinsey

At the same time, FinTech is not an easy space to be in, especially given the number of players – referred to as the As, Bs, Cs, and Ds – in the FinTech ecosystem.

  • As are large, well-established financial institutions, sometimes refer to these as “incumbents.”
  • Bs are big tech companies that are active in the financial services space but not exclusively so, such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Cs are companies that provide infrastructure or technology that facilitates financial services transactions. This broad group includes companies like MasterCard, Fiserv, First Data, various financial market utilities, and exchanges such as NASDAQ.
  • Ds are disruptors: fast-moving companies, often startups, focused on a particular innovative technology or process. Companies include Stripe (mobile payments), Betterment (automated investing), Prosper (peer-to-peer lending), Moven (retail banking), and Lemonade (insurance).

Source: PwC

Other than the competition, FinTech firms face several key challenges in growing their share of the pie:

1) Data security

The nature of FinTech means that companies are often dealing with sensitive customer data. Hacks and security breaches have the potential to undermine your customer’s trust in you. It is thus key that you put in place procedures for access, retention and disposal of data, as well as disclosure of breaches.

A good reference point is the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard that any business dealing with payment cards must adhere to in terms of storing, processing and transmitting cardholder data:

Source: PCI Security Standards Council

As for how to go about implementing data security standards, the best practices often emphasise 1) implementing clear processes, 2) appointing a designated data protection officer, and 3) constantly updating your security measures and guidelines to keep pace with tech developments. Given that you can never be completely insulated from security breaches, it is essential to develop a plan to adopt and define security mechanisms that will allow you to mitigate specific threats.

  • Have an executive officer with dedicated data security responsibility. The flatter organisational structure in FinTech startups creates an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself from larger competitors by having a data security officer with direct access to the management team and to the board.
  • Implement preconceived processes and procedures. Setting up internal data security controls improves your company’s regulatory compliance and allows financial institutions you work with to assure themselves that they are satisfying their own regulatory compliance obligations.
  • Implement — and use — network security protections. Specific steps you can take include: build and maintain a secure network, implement strong access control measures, and regularly monitor and test networks.
  • Be cautious about the cloud. Given that public cloud services are becoming a favorite target of data thieves, using the cloud may raise data security issues.
  • Monitor developments and learn from past events. As data security practices change, and as technology and security threats evolve in tandem, the measures you will have to take will likewise evolve. Avoid succumbing to a false sense of security by conducting periodic internal reviews and monitoring external developments and current events. 

Source: Bloomberg BNA

2) Difficulty in scaling

A key imperative of any startup is to scale. Yet, FinTech startups face significant challenges in scaling to capture more of the consumer market, given the nature of the business and the limited resources compared to established incumbents. While many startups are in a hurry to scale fast, this is less likely in FinTech given that consumers are generally reluctant to talk about money. In addition, established financial institutions which are dabbling in the FinTech space have the clients and resources to scale.

In order not to trail behind their larger and more well-funded competitors, be proactive about seeking out experienced advisors with the right expertise. Here are some top tips from Markus Gnirck, co-founder of the leading Startupbootcamp FinTech accelerator in Singapore.

  1. Seek an advisor or mentor with banking experience as they can open doors and provide credibility
  2. Put together a risk and compliance framework
  3. Educate regulators about your technology and business & acquire the relevant licenses
  4. Build relationships as finance is a network-based and closed system
  5. Never agree on a Proof of Concept that is not paid for
  6. Find investors that understand that exit may take up to 15 years
  7. Have 2-3 years of runway as the investment landscape in FinTech will change
  8. Find local partners to better understand local infrastructure and dynamics

Source: Techsauce

3) Navigating risk & regulatory stakeholders

According to the PwC Global FinTech Survey 2016, regulatory uncertainty is one of the top three challenges for traditional financial institutions and FinTech companies when working together. As there is low regulatory tolerance for lapses on issues such as anti-money-laundering, compliance, and know-your-customer, building capabilities in these areas will allow FinTech players to best position themselves to succeed.

Some industry players regard the fact that regulation has yet to catch up with new innovations as an advantage. At the same time, FinTech startups are vulnerable to legislative updates that might potentially undermine their entire business model. However, the encouraging regulatory environment should be a cause for celebration. The move in Singapore to set up a regulatory sandbox to allow startups to experiment with FinTech solutions within a well-defined space and duration will give innovation the space to flourish – and other countries such as Thailand, Australia and Malaysia are following suit.

It is thus incumbent on FinTech players to leverage on this facilitative regulatory environment. Beyond complying with regulatory requirements, it is crucial for FinTech startups to facilitate regulatory developments by proactively engaging regulators and educating them on your business model. Ensuring that you move along with regulation is part staying ahead of the curve in the FinTech world.

Made for FinTech: Dragon Law and MKA Law Office

We know it is a challenge to navigate an evolving regulatory environment such as FinTech.

At Dragon Law, we have prided ourselves on providing more than 5,000 small and medium-sized businesses, general counsels, law firms and business advisors with a better way to manage legal online. Subscribers to our platform have access to any of our 500 existing business documents and can customise them to their specific needs.

At the same time, we recognise that businesses need the help of an expert. In an evolving regulatory environment such as FinTech, startups need good, solid advice on whether they are meeting compliance requirements. As a FinTech company, you want to focus your limited time and resources on developing your product and reaching more customers.

With the newly launched Dragon Law Managed Accounts, where we partner with established law firms with expertise in a range of industries to provide Dragon Law-enabled legal services for your organisation. A Dragon Law Managed Account allows you to enjoy the perks of technology, together with an expert who manages your Dragon Law account for you.

For FinTech companies, our Certified Advisor, MKA Law Office, provides expertise in meeting regulatory requirements and can help you take your business to the next level.

 

What goes into a Dragon Law-enabled plan?

  • Business compliance: Have your business model or operation documents reviewed on regulatory compliance
  • Dragon Law subscription: Create unlimited legal and business documents on Dragon Law for the running of your day-to-day business
  • Review documents: Have your documents reviewed by experienced lawyers and amended to fit your specific business purpose

 

Lessons of a CEO #6

5th November – A Room With A View

holiday
noun
an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.
“I spent my summer holidays on a beach”
synonyms: break, rest, period of leave, day off, week off, month off, recess, school holiday, half-term;

Ask your colleagues if they are busy and they will of course nod. It’s frightfully hip to be permanently busy nowadays and nobody is likely to admit otherwise. In fact, you’ll probably hear that they are ‘swamped’, ‘stressed’, and ‘under a stack of pressure’.

Work is the must-have item of 2016.  

Still even I, accustomed to the work-obsessed nature of the startup world, was morbidly fascinated to discover this week that a co-working space is opening in Phuket targeting vacayers who want to “micro-work” (no I had never heard of this either). Geography students you will recall: Phuket is the big Thai island that’s quite close to the little Thai island where they filmed the film based on the book about the beach.

The reason you should go on holiday to Thailand

So why on earth would a holiday island need a co-working space? Well if we disregard the answer – because it’s the only place left in Asia without one, we are left with something more telling. “Work” is changing.

For my generation (I’m quite a late Gen X – born in 1977) the famous gap year before or after Uni was a rite of passage. Every September tens of thousands of yet-to-be-sunburnt bodies traipsed Eastward around the globe looking for fun and the odd insight or two. Most ran out of money, [un]intentionally from SE Asia onwards, so it was pretty common to run into a friend working a bar job or waiting-on somewhere between Bangkok and Sydney. “Travelers” in these climes were so far from home and so far off the grid that this was of course part of the experience. The notion that we might be able to do a ‘real’ job while on holiday was as frighteningly awful as it was impossible.

Hipster Millennials beware! Long pour coffee is not available at “an Internet Café”.

But of course times they have changed, and while predictions from the 1950s that ‘connected computers’ would allow us all to live lives free of offices and commutes hasn’t quite panned out just yet. It is nonetheless true to say that more and more jobs can and are done by folks who don’t really need to be sitting alongside their colleagues.

Take a look around your set-up. How many of your colleagues are looking at a laptop right now? Pretty much every single one of them I guess. And in an age where ‘working’ is basically opening up your laptop and frowning, why shouldn’t we do it somewhere that inspires us. What’s more, why should I only have a gap year when I’m 18, or 21 or 25. I can take a working gap year whenever I like now and work in places that make my friends envious and my Instagram feed follower-worthy and maybe even pick up a few new skills on the way.

Do I agree with any of this? Will you find me working in paradise any time soon?

I’ve always taken a different approach. Live somewhere you love so much that your life feels like a holiday every day☺

The view from Dragon HQ in Cyberport quite frequently

Daniel Walker

Read the series:
Lessons of a CEO #5: Screen time
Lessons of a CEO #4: Sit down next to me
Lessons of a CEO #3: A Brief History of Thyme
Lessons of a CEO #2: Fashion Foreword
Lessons of a CEO #1: Lessons I’ve learned

Our Most Popular Guest Authors (And Their Articles) For October: A Roundup

November 4, 2016

If you’ve been following Dragon Law’s blog for awhile now, you might’ve noticed the introduction of a whole new range of articles with various topics submitted by guest authors:

But we also understand if you’re already suffering from content overload on your email and social media feeds.

 Related Reading: Our CEO’s favourite productivity tools

So because we know you wouldn’t want to miss out on the valuable CEO lessons, career advice, and the latest happenings in technology, we’ve consolidated them all to get you covered.

Check out our 10 most popular guest blogs for the month of October 2016:

#1: Lessons of a CEO #4

Who better to contribute to Dragon Law’s blog than our very own CEO? It’s taken many tough lessons to grow Dragon Law to where we are today and, as with all good things, they deserve to be shared! Also read this blog to learn a new meeting framework we invented to keep our 50-strong team aligned with the same goals.

#2: 3 Career Planning & Development Lessons from my Apprentice Asia TV Experience

Did you know – we have a superstar among #TeamDragon?

Andrea Loh, one of our Sales Managers in Singapore, was invited to be part of the global F*ckup Nights initiatives to share…you guessed right – the time(s) she probably thought she f*cked up. Her road less traveled includes 2 years as a litigation lawyer, coming in as runner-up for The Apprentice Asia, then spending 2 years in India working for a tech startup, returned to Singapore to ‘figure life out’, and then joining #TeamDragon 9 months later.

Andrea is now one of the best members of our ever-growing Sales team, and she has some lessons to share.

#3: 4 Important Things to Note when Scaling your Online Marketplace

Starting any business is hard and comes with many challenges, but growing is even harder. Whether you’re an online or offline business, it’s easy to lose focus when you’re just starting out and eager to scale.

Kenneth Low, Co-Founder of Arcadier, urges you to focus on these 4 most important things.

#4: Is Cyber Security about to get an AI takeover?

Dragon Law’s intelligent document builder has changed the way thousands of businesses manage legal work.

Will Artificial Intelligence go to Cyber Security next?

Read PatSnap’s analysis

#5: International growth: Getting it right

Asian legal systems have a number of differences from their Western counterparts, including when it comes to business law. One must be careful not to make sweeping assumptions.

This piece by financial journalist Alexander Honeyman outlines the must-knows if you are running an international company with business dealings in Asia. Learn how the financial regulations, legal systems and corporate cultures compare internationally:

Read International Growth: Getting it Right

#6: Beyond 2016: Technology Skills of the Future

Never in history have new technologies evolved as quickly as now. Newly-acquired skills are fast becoming obsolete. Keep up, or risk being replaced! Gpayroll unveils the most in-demand IT skills that will prepare you for the future.

Read: Beyond 2016: Technology Skills of the Future

#7: 5 ways Outsourcing can Help Grow your Business

Do you have too much on your plate? So do we! Rachel of Dubai-based law firm AlHanaee shares the 5 ways you can use outsourced consultants to accelerate your business growth.

Read: 5 ways Outsourcing can help Grow your Business

#8: How to Select A Payroll Software that is Right for You

Yes, spreadsheets are great for simple calculations for a handful of employees. But what if you have part-timers? Contractors? Some requiring CPF and levy contributions, all at different levels? Do you know your formulae?

How about just use a reliable payroll software with built-in calculators according to your local Employment Act, so you don’t make these costly mistakes?

Sebastian Kang, Co-Founder of Talenox, tells you what to look out for when evaluating payroll software.

Read on: Essentials of Payroll Software

#9: Which Payroll Method Works Best For You?

Also on the hot topic of payroll, Gpayroll wants to help you evaluate the payroll method that works best for you:

Finding the best payroll method

 

#10: Guide to Incorporating your Company in Singapore

While Singapore is one of the easiest places in the world to set up a business, it can still be challenging to keep track of a running list of to-dos. Our trusted partner, Ottavia, has come up with the ultimate list of to-dos and must-know procedures for a zero-hiccup incorporation process in Singapore. They’ve even summed it up in a simple infographic that you can download here.

Read: Guide to Incorporating your Company in Singapore

 

Have cool ideas? Something to say? We’d like to hear from you too!

Submit a guest post to Dragon Law’s blog