How do you scale to serve 4.5 Billion People in Asia?
In October 2018, I attended the first Building Bridges conference co-hosted by APF Canada and the Cansbridge Fellowship Program. The conference focused on the intersection of youth, entrepreneurship, and the challenge of scaling businesses in Asian markets. Over the two days, I interacted with an amazing lineup of speakers, participated and won a case competition based on existing challenges and opportunities facing companies operating in Asia, and networked with peers looking to make a dent in the world.
The Case competition experience
For the case competition, I was randomly paired with a computer engineer and marketing specialist and we were given the challenge to develop a market-entry strategy for Prenetics, a leading genetic testing/digital health company in Southeast Asia, to enter the Hong Kong market. As we started working on the case, we took a human-centred design approach to ensure that we start by empathizing with the users of the product to better understand who should Prenetics be targeting in Hong Kong.
In our research, we found that close to 16% mid-aged women in Hong Kong are at the risk of loosing their lives to breast cancer but with a simple DNA test, they can gain a better understanding of their medical and fitness profile and take necessary steps to mitigate the risks. We also found in Hong Kong, citizens often believe they are healthier than they actually are.
After identifying the needs and understanding the urgency of the situation, we made recommendations on implementation strategies for a public was a campaign and toolkit aimed at middle aged women (30–45 years of age) in Hong Kong.
This experience taught me that empathy goes beyond the design process for building web applications. It is an essential component to any process that is looking to scale.
I also got a sense of the massive market that is Asia, and came up with a fancy term that I refer to as the “Asian scalability paradox”. Asian scalability paradox recognizes that the size of Asian markets alone do not automatically result in the scalability of any product or service. It requires added understanding of regional and cultural nuances to approach these markets. It’s important to appreciate differences within Asia rather than to treat the region’s markets as a whole.
I would highly encourage anyone looking to expand their skillset and understanding to step out of their comfort zones and take part in case competitions that challenge your assumptions of the world.
You can find more information on the conference here