The simple and inexpensive creation of new companies and services opens the world
Lisa Enckell is a partner at Antler, a venture capital firm and early-stage startup generator.
In Asia, where I work as a partner at an early VC stage. Startups regularly introduce a minimum viable product (MVP) and then trade messaging apps.
Companies such as the Portblue shoe brand, the AI e-commerce company Sorabel and Sama, an online recruitment platform for migrant workers, used WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to communicate with customers and users on board and to increase brand awareness.
WeChat for many years was the standard app for daily life and business in China. It is estimated that more than 30% of all Internet traffic in China is handled by WeChat. In 2017, “mini-programs” were introduced that companies can use to create apps in WeChat. You no longer need to download apps or open a browser to access millions of WeChat services and businesses.
We are now seeing a similar trend in Southeast Asia. Here WhatsApp is the dominant social platform, and while it hasn't built the same infrastructure for building apps, startups have found a way to get around this and are now running many services on WhatsApp to validate quickly and inexpensively for customers. These companies are not only mobile first, but also WhatsApp first.
Sampingan, an Antler portfolio company founded here in Singapore, provides companies in Indonesia with on-demand employees. The first version of the product was on WhatsApp. The team sourced and managed more than 2,000 workers in Indonesia who completed 25,000 jobs in the company's first three months.