I was recently catching up with a cross-border VC friend of mine.
He said he prefers Southeast Asian startups over Korean or Japanese startups these days.
I asked why – is it because of the population size?
What he said next caught my attention. He said “I prefer SEA startups because there are more SEA founders who can pitch in English than Korean/Japanese founders.”
I was like, hmm, just English pitching skills alone? Really?
But he went on and it started making more sense, because these startups have to go global at some point, because their local market is smallish and capped. And to go global, you need global capital and global talents. No other way.
If you’re in China, that’s a different story. You can build a global scale company in China alone.
But if you’re non-Chinese Asian startup, you should go global pretty soon. And that means the founder should be able to pitch to global investors in English. And recruit A-list talents to your company. Gotta be done by the founder or the founding team, not a hired gun. That’s the only way.
So, Korean/Japanese/other Asian founders – building the product and traction alone is an impossible amount of work, but start honing on your English pitch skills NOW. The time will come sooner than you expect, you’ll have to be able to pitch in English.