For the past decade, the ecosystem of developers and startups in Asia-Pacific (APAC) has been accelerating its growth and dynamism to elevate its members to the competitive global force they are nowadays. Local and international powers are now looking up to APAC startups to develop and deploy digital innovation, especially for the mobile application industry. Private investments have reached new highs in recent years, while APAC governments have been implementing initiatives to support the startup ecosystem. In total, millions have been invested to help entrepreneurs increase the business attractiveness of the region and create the next unicorns.
However the relationship between the developer community and governments is all but perfect. Here are the main three challenges developers face:
Too often, developers and entrepreneurs have to live by rules which were not made for them
Policies have often been modelled in an analog fashion while developers and startups leverage disruptive technologies. Rather than focussing on the how, digital policies have to be principles based. Entrepreneurs are having difficulties ticking old-world boxes and often are left in the dark because they bypass superfluous steps.
Developers are not on the minds of governments, when new laws are proposed. But as the smallest entities in our digital economy they are the first to suffer from unintended consequences or excessive complexity in laws. Though startups have the potential to change the world, they often are the size of a cricket team: companies like Lazada or Amazon have different resources and legal departments compared to a startup.
Developers, startups and policy makers: a short-term relationship?
Initiatives such as the creation of startup hubs, accredited accelerator programs, entrepreneurship prizes or mentorship opportunities are great initiatives that help entrepreneurs get their business started. But should they be driven by governments or the private sector? Governments are the one’s setting the rules of the game and no accelerator can harness the next game changer if the rules aren’t made for that. PR and promotion of entrepreneurship, just as support of early stage startups, has an important role to play but it cannot be a substitute for the right regulatory framework.
Solutions instead of an one size fits all approach
The motivation for laws regarding our digital economy are often inspired by a few, and sometimes negative examples, but they have an effect on entire ecosystems. Concepts and definitions in a fast moving and dynamic sector like the mobile economy are likely to create collateral damage than serve as an effective measure. From their policy toolbox policy makers need to choose carefully and wisely to avoid slowing down the growth of those startups, they’d like to see emerging as champions.
What entrepreneurs need the most is uncomplicated market access and legal certainty for their global growth. It’s hard to convince investors to chip in to a venture that relies on changing laws. There is a gap between developers and governments that can only be addressed by involving developers in a meaningful way in policy making.
Developers enrich every inch of our society and economy, that’s why they deserve a seat at the policy table. With it’s experience uniting entrepreneurship communities and connecting them to government Allied for Startups is launching a Allied4Apps. A dedicated programme to celebrate the strength and raise the voice of developers and entrepreneurs in the Asia Pacific region.
Allied for Startups is a worldwide network of over 40 advocacy organisations focused on improving the policy environment for startups. We are working together to create a consensus on policies that can positively impact startups and grow digital entrepreneurship and digital economy at large. Our mission is to ensure that the voices of startups are heard in government.
Allied4Apps will connect entrepreneurial communities around public policy and enable the exchange of best practises and build expertise; through our collective knowledge we want to be a contact point for governments interested in startups and for entrepreneurs who want to understand and work with governments. Combining this with an aim for global growth and lessons learned across the globe, we want to unlock potential for entrepreneurs in the region.