What makes a good startup?

More than just IOT devices.

The 2018 Google Temasek Southeast Asia Internet Economy report suggests that by 2024 will reach $240 billion from $72 billion in 2018, yet we still have a long way to go in terms of building more economically inclusive cities.

What makes a good smart cities startup? It's a great question and it's a definition that will vary across the planet depending on the constraints facing land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship within a given region. 

We believe entrepreneurs will focus on varying needs depending on each cities' unique characteristics and unmet needs.


  • You may actually need to train more farmers before we can optimize farming with software.

  • We may need to create bank accounts for micro-entrepreneurs before creating a two-sided market place.

 In this blog, I'll detail how we look for funding ready startups for the ASEAN-Australia Smart Cities Accelerator.  

  1. The vision.

  2. You don't have to be a venture-funded hyper-growth company?

  3. Every startup has a secret!

  4. Defensibility

  5. Resilience through the diversity of thought.

The vision:

The vision for the types of startups and entrepreneurs is the same as it is with Accelerating Asia, though the ASCA investment is via a non-equity grant of up to $40,000 SGD with opportunities for follow on funding.

“We believe entrepreneurs are one of humanity’s greatest catalysts for positive change.”

You don't have to be a venture-funded hyper-growth company?

For this program, you don't have to be the next Facebook or Alibaba.  You do however need to be hyper-impact. We're looking for companies that will and have the ability to reach +40% year on year compounded impact in their local economies.

 Your impact may be across one or a few of the three categories:

  1. Economic inclusion. Are you making it possible for those who previously may have not had access to have purpose and dignity?

  2. Infrastructure and provisioning. Are you making infrastructure, goods, and services more accessible to people in your region? This includes startups working on new methods of farming, education and alternative energy sources.

  3. Data capture, planning, and optimization. Are you capturing relevant data to shape better and more inclusive decision making?

 If you believe in the importance of entrepreneurs in catalysing change and your startup is capable of being hyper-impact you've passed the first eligibility criteria. 

Every startup has a secret!

Secondly, we're looking for startups that see something that others are yet to see. Like Warung Pintar in Indonesia seeing the critical role of street vendors. 

Our unique upbringing and cultures allow us to see opportunities that may not appear so obvious to others. Large groups may be good at achieving consensus however motivated individuals are more capable of finding new truths!


Thirdly, we look at if your startup has a defensible position to continue to grow and sustain its impact on your community. 

Resilience through the diversity of thought:

Finally, the majority of the startups in the world fail! We’d even go as far as to say that it is the default state of every startup. One of the primary ways that you overcome this statistic is through a diversity of thought within your organisation, and in so doing you create optionality and greater situational awareness. 

While it is comfortable to be surrounded by people who think like us. We believe it’s through differing views that we access new thoughts and processes. We look for organisations with gender and cultural diversity

So where do I apply?

Applications are now open until 11 August 2019 with a programme start date set for 30 September 2019. The programme's inaugural Demo Day will take place on 6 February 2020. Interested parties may contact Accelerating Asia for more details at asca@acceleratingasia.com or check out ASCA official website at http://aseansmartcity.com/


Two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, according to the United Nations. This will put immense pressure on cities to provide everyday essentials like clean air, affordable and safe public transport, and reliable infrastructure. In fact, many cities are already struggling to provide their residents with these necessities. There is still a lot of work to be done, and we believe startups are uniquely positioned to tackle the challenges cities face today and in the future. 

That is why we created the ASEAN-Australia Smart Cities Accelerator. By helping promising startups realise their potential, we are helping to fulfill an important mission: the creation of sustainable cities that work for everyone.