The Online Potential Of Myanmar For Upcoming Tech Startups.
Nearing the closing for the conference session for Startup Asia Singapore Day 1, Rita Nguyen delivered an astonishing keynote speech on the grand opportunity awaiting technology companies that are planning to expand into Myanmar. Her astonishing presentation delivered some insights gleaned from her own work as a co-founder and CEO of Squar.Asia, a social media and gaming company making its pummeling its way through Myanmar.
As Nguyen elaborated, the fact that Myanmar has become a recent gossip over new markets for internet companies was near-unthinkable three years back. With laws and regulations severely restricting online autonomy, and by extension entrepreneurship, many companies have assumed that the was an of limits area. This begin to change recently after the military junta, which was in control of the country, dissolved during 2011.
With its shackles now loosened, Myanmar citizens are free to explore the internet and join what Nguyen has dubbed the “global conversatons”. The craving for net access it something that shouldn’t be underestimated. Nguyen recounted that SIM cards have been priced for a total of USD$2,000 on the black market as of recently as two and a half years ago, making them a highly sought after commodity but are exceedingly rare. For that matter, when Myanmar Post telecommunications offered a SIM card lottery for 350,000 cards fur a price of $1.50 each, over one million people had shown up, some of them stand in lines for up to eight hours under the sweltering 40 degree of heat just to get a chance to enter.
Nyguyen had best described that time during 2014 to that of the American holiday of “celebrating Thanksgiving,” implying that the following period of anticipation, consumers would rush to spend money only, in a similar fashion to American consumers who rush towards malls during Black Friday.
Ngyuen went on to encourage the audience to take their time in consider Myanmar as their next destination for a startup by offering her own company as example of success. Noting that Myanmar youth are just the same as the rest of Asia in their desire for independence and individuality, her company has targeted area in social media and gaming for efficient market entry. The gaming side of business has continued to see a very strong user growth and it’s “MY”, short for Myanmar, series of five games are currently played by in a total of 2 million times each month.
In the words of Nguyen herself, Myanmar” is a market of over 60 million people coming online almost overnight” Compounding the promise of the market, she pointed out that over 47 percent of the population are under the age of 24. With such a promising setting, it be very worthwhile to see what sort of tech scene Myanmar will be able to become during the coming years.