Layer Gets Involved in the Growing Startup Scene in Asia

I grew up in Hong Kong, so when I headed there to attend RISE 2017 I felt a bit sentimental. It’s amazing to see that the startup scene in Asia is finally picking up. And even better, it’s growing exponentially.

The RISE conference is put on by the Web Summit team, which is a key reason why it’s able to attract nearly 15,000 attendees from 90 countries. With such diverse attendees and over 600 startups participating, getting involved with RISE 2017 was an easy decision.

Much like the Web Summit mobile experience, Layer is used to power the in-app conversations between RISE attendees. In 2016, the RISE app reached 37 minutes of average daily usage and it’s great to be part of that success.

But we wanted to get even more involved in RISE 2017. That’s why I was happy to hold a roundtable about branded customer experiences. The internet and mobile are helping startups innovate—but innovation won’t lead to market success without differentiated digital experiences.  

3 Key Themes from RISE 2017

I learned a lot from the small roundtable on branded customer experiences, but that was just a small part of RISE 2017. The conference offered plenty to take in, but here are three of the main takeaways that came with me from Hong Kong.

1. Mobile Is the Core of Customer Engagement

There isn’t a single business in any industry that can survive without a mobile strategy today. Business leaders have been talking about digital transformation for years, but in Asia the real concern is mobile transformation. Unlike in the U.S., Asia has essentially skipped the age of laptops and jumped straight into mobile.

One woman I met at RISE 2017 told me a story from her recent visit to Beijing. She wanted to get a taxi from the hotel to a mall, but the driver refused to take her—even after she offered extra cash.

What she didn’t realize is that even though the driver only had a basic phone (nothing as “smart” as an iPhone), he was working through the popular Didi Chuxing ride-sharing app. He was incentivized to work entirely through that platform the same way Uber or Lyft drivers are in other regions.

Cash no longer outranks the value of identifying riders, calculating distances, and managing payments. In any industry (not just transportation), mobile is the key to engaging with customers.

2. Communication and AI Are Built-in Pieces of a Business Model

If it wasn’t clear enough already, RISE reinforced the fact that the “website first, customer service later” model is gone.

Emerging startups are building platforms with communication as a core piece of their releases. And the primary means of communication is unanimously messaging.

I met the founder of HelloToby at RISE. Their platform is brand new (just about a year old), but it shipped with messaging as part of the first release. Innovators like HelloToby build businesses knowing that pushing information through mobile isn’t the key to engaging with customers. However, real engagement is about having conversations with individuals and figuring out how to best serve their needs.

When AI is built into a messaging strategy, innovators can scale engagement as a business model by optimizing staffing needs and improving personalization over time.

3. Focus on Core Competence

The speakers at RISE are wise entrepreneurs who have founded and grown companies many times over the years. Time and time again, I heard different speakers talking about focusing on core competence as a key to success. You want to find vendors who compliment and improve what you’re best at.

If you’re in the e-commerce business, you don’t want to spend all your time developing a messaging app and integrating AI, payment methods, and catalog creation. You need to focus on all the other challenges that come along with ecommerce. Leave messaging development to vendors who build these experiences for a living.

Dubizzle is one company that started focusing on core competence early on. While Dubizzle focuses on supporting its digital classifieds business, Layer helps the company boost engagement with an easy-to-implement customer conversation platform.

Are You Delivering a Differentiated Customer Experience?

The internet and mobile are great equalizers. You can focus on designing a great product that solves problems, but branded customer experiences have to be top-of-mind from the start.

If there’s one thing I learned from seeing the growing startup scene in Asia, it’s that there are plenty of smart, influential entrepreneurs and business leaders around the world. The ones who stand out will engage with customers better than anyone else.

If you want to learn more about how you can use messaging to create stronger relationships with your users, contact us today for a free demo of the Layer customer conversation platform.