Myanmar Startup Day in Singapore took place this month at Silicon Straits Co lab, playing host to more than 60 participants. The first of its kind, Myanmar Startup Day featured six Myanmar startups who demonstrated their apps and businesses to a crowd comprising largely of Myanmar nationals residing in Singapore.
In an open sharing format, the startups pitched their products and services, while participants also responded with feedback on their technological needs.
With more than 100,000 Myanmar nationals who live, work and study in Singapore with higher disposable income, startups based in Myanmar have the potential to gain from creating products focused towards the Myanmar diaspora in Singapore.
“It’s almost like catering to a secondary Myanmar city. We got our start building tools to benefit the community here, and now that we are back in Myanmar we are still focused on developing our user base here in Singapore,” said Nay Min Thu, CEO and founder of iMyanmarGroup.
iMyanmarGroup got its start while its founder was studying in Singapore, and the success of ShweRooms.com, its Singapore property portal focused on Myanmar nationals, gave it the platform required to return to Myanmar to start more business verticals.
From property to car sales apps, mobile games and more, Myanmar Startup Day presented a range of tech products and services of interest to overseas nationals. As a rapidly-developing economy which has been closed up until recently, the liberalisation of the Myanmar telecommunications industry levelled the playing field for technology upstarts to offer new solutions and services to a population which is mostly new to mobile services.
Ideabox Myanmar organised the Myanmar Startup Day to showcase Myanmar talent and also boost ties between Myanmar and Singapore. Participants from technology businesses unrelated to Myanmar were also present, signifying the renewed interest in Myanmar as the next frontier market.
“In our work at ideabox Myanmar, we’ve found that so much of the drive towards creating a tech ecosystem in Yangon and elsewhere have been driven by Myanmar nationals who have returned after a stint abroad, particularly in Singapore,” explained Kaung Sitt, co-founder of ideabox Myanmar, a community of entrepreneurs which offers incubation, acceleration and community events in Yangon and other cities in Myanmar.
“The overseas Myanmar national ought to be courted – he’s exposed to all this tech and business globally, and at some point he’s going to ask, ‘what about me?’ Myanmar startups are starting to address this question, alongside other technological gaps at large, both at home and abroad.”
In Myanmar local entrepreneurs are developing innovative ICT programmes and mobile apps, but often do not have the resources to bring these to market or scale their solutions.
“Our innovation and incubation programmes provide expertise, funding, and exposure to develop entrepreneurialism at the grassroots level,” said Thiri Kyar Nyo, a spokesperson of Ooredoo Myanmar.
“We aim to support local businesses via these flagship developments, and to provide inspiring role models of success to encourage human growth through innovation, with the potential to impact millions of lives within the region and in Myanmar.”