Tag Archives: Entrepreneurs

5 reasons to watch startups in Central and Eastern Europe

In 2015 we opened Google for Startups Campus Warsaw, a dedicated space in the middle of the city’s bustling Praga district, where startups can receive training and mentorship. We opened our doors to founders from across the region because we passionately believe they’re the ones shaping the future of their countries’ economies, and we have the resources and connections to help them grow. 

In the past five years, Campus Warsaw has become a hub for programs and events (welcoming 100,000 visitors in total), and a flourishing community of over 1,800 startups. And we’ve had the privilege of supporting founders in their endeavor to question the status quo. Working with these determined entrepreneurs has shown me that there are five key reasons to watch the startup ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe.

1. Tech talent pool has real game—literally.

CEE startup career opportunities extend well beyond entrepreneurs: Startups in our community have hired 43,000+ employees to date across a variety of industries. There are about one million software developers in Central and Eastern Europe, 50 percent of whom are concentrated in Poland, Romania, and Czechia. Such a high concentration of highly skilled and educated tech workers led to the rapid development of sectors such as gaming. Poland boasts over 440 gaming development studios—launching more than 480 new games each year—and gaming is the second-largest sector in our CEE Google for Startups community.

People working on computers

Startups receive one-on-one Google mentoring at Campus Warsaw and via virtual programming.

2. The number of startups has doubled in the last five years. 

...and the total continues to grow rapidly. In Poland alone, there are now about 4,500 startups. More than half generate revenue and a quarter are scaling (aka growing their customer base, offerings, and the company itself). The profile of the average founder has also evolved: To a large extent, startups are founded by people who are over 30 years old and already have relevant experience and networks from previous stages of their careers.

A female startup founder

 35 percent of founders at Google for Startups Campus Warsaw are women

3. Foreign investments in CEE startups are at a record high.   

Venture capital investors are searching for new investment opportunities across Europe, and the CEE region is becoming increasingly attractive. According to the global startup data platform Dealroom, there’s five times more foreign VC investment in the ecosystem than there was in 2015. And it’s twice as easy to secure funding for a business: 69 percent of startups obtain financing, as stated in our “Five Years of Google for Startups in CEE” report, which we prepared together with Startup Poland and Kantar.
Two founders chatting on a couch

Founders find inspiration in coworking spaces at Campus Warsaw in 2018

4. The booming ecosystem offers support for founders at every step. 

Startups based in CEE have many organizations and resources to turn to when they need a helping hand in growing their business. In 2019, Poland alone boasted approximately 50 coworking spaces, totalling over 200,000 square meters. Since opening our Google for Startups Campus space, we’ve hosted over 1800 educational and inspirational events for founders to help them build, start, and grow their companies. "Here at Campus, I am surrounded by and have access to individuals who want to have an impact, solve tough problems, or challenge the status quo,” said Joanna Fedorowicz, founder and CEO of OvuFriend. “I have never been more motivated and prepared to take my startup to the next level.” 

Campus Warsaw building

Google for Startups Campus Warsaw in 2020C

5. CEE founders must have a global mindset.  

As the local CEE markets are relatively small, startups in our region need to think globally from day one. Those who design their products for an international scale are at the forefront of the European tech startup scene. So far, 12 unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion) have sprung out of the CEE region, with a combined value of €30 billion. Most were founded in Romania and Poland, with a promising batch of stars rising across the whole region. And we’re proud to support them every step of the way. “After our first successes, like many other startups, we reached a point when scaling up and entering another level of growth became a challenge,” said Iga Czubak, founder and CEO ofQurczak. “During the Google for Startups program, we reevaluated our whole business model and analyzed every aspect of our company's strategy, which enabled us to keep growing." 

People playing foosball.

Campus Warsaw founders celebrate successes—as well as crushing foosball defeats.

I promised a list of five, but I’m going to sneak in a sixth: The number one thing I’ve learned over the past five years is this: No matter if startup is just starting out or scaling to meet the needs of new consumers, businesses, and society, we will keep on connecting them—whether online or IRL—with the right products, skills and people to navigate the road ahead. Because when startups succeed, it’s good for all of us, in CEE and beyond.

A call to advance women entrepreneurs

When I joined Google more than a decade ago, I was one of the only working mothers at Google Tokyo. I spoke with other women at the office, and was surprised to find that for many of my female colleagues, the cultural stigma of being a working mom was still hard to overcome, even at a company as supportive as Google. I was especially struck by conversations with younger women who had yet to start families, but who had already decided that when the time came, work and family would be too hard to juggle. 


I became an advocate for encouraging women in the workplace, both within and outside of Google. I wanted women to know they can choose what is right for them. It means a lot to be able to say that, today, 100 percent of women at Google in Japan come back to work after maternity leave.  


Making space for women and diverse voices means more creative ideas and solutions. But you don’t have to take my word for it—the benefits of investing in women entrepreneurs in particular are substantial. Experts have said that closing the entrepreneurial gender gap could boost the global economy by up to $5 trillion. This is even more important as economies around the world strive to recover from the challenges of COVID-19. 


Today, on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Google’s Women Willinitiative is launching a global report called Advancing Women in Entrepreneurship, which takes a look at some of the factors behind the entrepreneurship gender gap, as well as potential areas for intervention.


The report, which surveyed women in Asia-Pacific (Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa), finds that:

  • Self-confidence is ranked by women as one of the top three skills most critical to successfully running a business in most countries in Asia. However, aspiring women entrepreneurs are less confident (compared to men) across all of the twelve countries in our research.

  • Less than half of women surveyed said they had access to mentors or supportive social groups.

  • About 80% of both current and aspiring entrepreneurs were interested in learning and improving their skills.

Building a culture of support, confidence and learning is important for women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive. Just a few weeks ago, I kicked off the first session of the Google for Startups’ Immersion: Women Founders program for Asia-Pacific, an eight-week, mentorship program for female founders. We’ve already heard that access to mentorship and the chance to form a community have been highlights for the participants. Hanna Kim, the founder of Grip, a live-streaming e-commerce platform in Korea, said, “It’s been really helpful to get insights from the mentors, like practical business and HR insights. I’m also so inspired by everyone in the cohort. It makes me dream even bigger!” 

Another initiative we hope will make a difference is a series of six  webinarswith UN Women’s WE EMPOWER campaign, focused on on topics like adapting through COVID-19 and developing leadership skills.


We’re looking forward to building on these steps with more initiatives to encourage women entrepreneurs in Asia Pacific and around the world. We hope you’ll take a look at the report, and join the online conversation on the Women Will Instagram channel. 

Rise and move forward together: Indonesia’s digital future

In a year like no other, Indonesian entrepreneurs have shown grit and determination to keep their businesses running for the communities that rely on them. They’ve also shown great creativity in adapting new tools and technologies—like Ida, the owner of a traditional cake business in Lombok who saw business dry up when local schools were forced to close. After taking a Women Will course, Ida used Google My Business to connect with her customers, promote her range of cakes throughout Indonesia, and ultimately increase her income by 60 percent. Now she’s working with other women entrepreneurs in her community to help them make the most of technology in their own businesses.  


At today’s virtual Google for Indonesia, we celebrated this entrepreneurial spirit in adversity— and shared new initiatives to help the businesses and workers most in need. We also deepened our commitment to building a strong, inclusive digital economy for all Indonesians, reflecting the theme of this year’s event: bangkit dan maju sama-sama (rise and move forward together).  


Helping businesses and workers most in need


For many Indonesian business owners, the first priority continues to be funding their operations through the downturn, so they can rebuild. Together with Kiva and local financial service providers, we’ve created a $10 million fund to extend low-interest loans to the small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19—in particular, those from underserved communities.  


To support the fight against youth unemployment, Google.org will make a $1 million grant to Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Plan Indonesia), helping launch a program that will provide training and job matching assistance for over 5,000 young people.


And as workers of all ages look to find work and improve their skills, we’ll continue to expand our Kormo Jobs app with roles in sectors like logistics and essential services, and add new tools to meet job-seekers’ needs. The app already provides remote work listings and the option to interview remotely. From here, we’re adding AI-enabled learning to help job-seekers practise English, and partnering with ARKADEMI &QuBisa to offer additional certified courses, including foundational IT training and advice on mastering recruitment processes. 


Preparing for a strong digital future


Technology has helped Indonesia weather COVID-19, and it will have an even bigger role in our future beyond the pandemic. The eConomy SEA 2020 report, released last week, showsIndonesians adopting new digital services faster than ever, while research from AlphaBeta finds that a digitally-skilled workforce could add more than $300 billion to Indonesia’s GDP by 2030.  


Realizing that potential means equipping more Indonesians with digital knowledge and confidence, and we’re committed to playing our part. This year, we’ve expanded and adapted our training initiatives across different areas of technology—hand in hand with the Indonesian government and our partners in business and the nonprofit sector.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 200,000 Indonesian small businesses have completed online Grow with Google skills courses, taking the total number to 1.7 million since 2015. Google Cloud has held 150,000 training labs to help Indonesians get cloud-related skills, complementing the opening of the Jakarta cloud region earlier this year. And YouTube’s Akademi Edukreator partnership with Kok Bisa has trained more than 1,000 teachers, young professionals, students and content creators to produce educational video content — with more in-depth training planned as we keep building the “educreator” community. 

Today, we also announced an expansion of Bangkit: a collaboration between the Indonesian government, Google and Indonesia’s biggest technology companies, created to encourage the next generation of technology talent. 


Already, we’re seeing graduates from the first Bangkit cohort—many of them young women—go on to jobs throughout the private sector, pursuing big ambitions for careers at the forefront of technology. Next year, up to 3,000 Bangkit students will have the chance to pursue courses across six different tracks, from machine learning and Android development to the fundamentals of cloud. 

Bangkit graduate Irfani

Irfani Sakinah, a 23-year old graduate from Makkassar, secured a job as a data scientist in Jakarta after completing the Bangkit program. 

With the energy and ideas of the next generation, and the solidarity we saw shine through at Google for Indonesia, I have no doubt that Indonesians will rise above the challenges of 2020, and move forward to a stronger future together.

A sign language app to bridge the hearing gap

My partners and I started DeafTawk, a mobile application that provides online sign language interpretation at an affordable cost, to eradicate hurdles in communication for the deaf community. I was born blind, like my co-founder AQ, while our other-co-founder, Wamiq, is hearing impaired. Growing up in Pakistan, each of us was well aware that there are too many barriers for people with disabilities to be successful. 

Our tagline for DeafTawk is “Bridge the Gap.” We thought, wouldn’t it be incredible if we could connect deaf people all over the world with quick and easy sign language interpretation, from their phones? We started in 2018 with two interpreters and no customers. Today, we have more than 1,100 interpreters and we’ve helped nearly 18,000 people in Singapore and Pakistan. But we wanted to do more. As we looked to the next stage for DeafTawk, we knew that we still had our own gaps that we wanted to bridge.

The DeafTawk app

We were thrilled to learn that we’d been selected for the Google for Startups Accelerator, a three-month online program to support startups working on social, economic and health problems across the region. We saw it as an opportunity to expand our knowledge and expertise in AI and machine learning, and explore how we could widen our customer base among businesses. 

In the last few months, we’ve attended workshops and worked with different Google mentors to help us refine our business strategy, engage investors in a more targeted manner and ensure they are the right match. Our mentors challenged us to see things from a different perspective, while serving as a constant support whenever we faced challenges. We were given networking opportunities, allowing our team to come into contact with experts in the tech community. And the AI team at Google has been working with us to develop a prototype for our sign language interpretation solution, which would provide the option to use a bot that can automatically sign based on text or voice inputs. We’re hoping to launch this soon. Looking ahead, our goal is to expand to even more markets and reach 250,000 users by the end of 2024. 

Today marked the official completion of the GfS Accelerator program. Along with our fellow graduates—Advance, GIZTIXHacktiv8, Kata.aiMHub, Riliv, Rumarocket, Sehat Kahani, SenzeHub, Shoplinks, Smartfuture, Thuocsi.vn, TopCV and Walee—we’re grateful for the the chance to take our business to the next level and help find solutions to pressing challenges across our region.

What veterans can bring to the business world

2019 Google for Startups networking event for Veterans and Military Spouses at the American Underground in Durham, NC. Photo by Erin Bell of Bull City Photography.

For veterans, the transition from military life to the workforce can be tricky. I know how crucial it is to offer support, because I’ve been there myself. It's not that I doubted my abilities, but after eight years as a Navy officer, I quite literally did not know what my options were in the professional world.

Kevin Ryan stands, looking into the camera and smiling, wearing his military dress jacket with a white button-up shit and black bow tie.

Kevin Ryan

Thankfully, I was fortunate to land in a challenging role with a ton of support at Google. Even still, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed during my first two weeks before realizing when I had felt just as lost before: My first time on a submarine. When I first struggled to get my bearings on a ship, I taught myself to focus on the task at hand and get the job done. 

Similarly, when I first started out in tech I didn’t necessarily know what program management or technical operations entailed, but I did know how to take absolute ownership over a specific assignment. These skills might have different names in the military and civilian worlds, but they do translate—and American businesses can benefit from this kind of tactical experience.

Veterans are uniquely qualified to tackle the challenges of building a company. We have the ability to handle uncertainty, face challenges with grit and perseverance, work collaboratively in a mission-focused and results-oriented manner, communicate clearly and lead effectively—all key attributes for aspiring entrepreneurs. I’ve seen this firsthand not only in my current role as Network Deployment Manager at  Google Fiber, but as a VetNet mentor at Atlas.

Based down the street from me in Durham at Google for Startups tech hub American Underground, Atlas helps guide the military community in life beyond the uniform through opportunities in education, employment training and entrepreneurship. I’ve loved bringing Google resources to help Atlas attract talent and assist transitioning service members with resumes and job-seeking advice.

And we want to discover what more we can do to help veterans pursue entrepreneurship. Google for Startups recently teamed up with Endeavor Research to learn more about the current state of veteran entrepreneurship in the United States. After speaking with industry leaders, startup ecosystem experts and the military community, we found that veterans face specific challenges when starting and growing a business—namely, access to capital and  networking opportunities. 

Sixty percent of veteran-owned businesses experienced a financing shortfall, compared to 52 percent of  businesses not owned by veterans. Part of this is because building the right types of networks in the business world can be a complicated process for veterans; they tend to have strong networks in the military community, but weaker civilian professional ties. We want to help change that, and our research surfaced four clear ways we can better support veteran entrepreneurs in our communities: 

  1. Focus on building highly curated connections to help veterans navigate the civilian business world.

  2. Build awareness of the value of veteran entrepreneurship and recognize the diverse needs of founders within this group.

  3. Assist veterans in securing professional and educational experiences that better prepare them for startups and growing a business. 

  4. Provide dedicated support to help veterans navigate financial challenges and secure capital. 

To put these findings to work and help veterans build the strong networks they need to succeed as entrepreneurs, we’re launching a three-month Google for Startups Fellowship for veterans in partnership with Atlas. The fellowship will match cohorts of transitioning service members at a startup in the Google for Startups Partner Network where, in addition to their fellowship work, they'll receive invites to educational workshops, mentorship and support from Google mentors like myself. Transitioning Service Members within 180 days of separation who meet the eligibility requirements of the DOD Skillbridge program can participate in the Google for Startups Fellowship. Interested candidates can learn more and apply for the Fellowship at www.atlas.vet/fellowship.

I’m extremely proud to be a part of this effort, and to know that Google prioritizes veterans like myself. These Google for Startups fellowships provide the crucial exposure veterans need to find their sea legs in the corporate world—and to prove that the transitioning military community has so much valuable knowledge, talent and experience to contribute. As one of my Atlas mentees, a U.S. Army veteran, pointed out: ”Soldiers don’t settle for less. Everyone needs that in business—a person who sees an issue and has the confidence to fix it.”

What veterans can bring to the business world

2019 Google for Startups networking event for Veterans and Military Spouses at the American Underground in Durham, NC. Photo by Erin Bell of Bull City Photography.

For veterans, the transition from military life to the workforce can be tricky. I know how crucial it is to offer support, because I’ve been there myself. It's not that I doubted my abilities, but after eight years as a Navy officer, I quite literally did not know what my options were in the professional world.

Kevin Ryan stands, looking into the camera and smiling, wearing his military dress jacket with a white button-up shit and black bow tie.

Kevin Ryan

Thankfully, I was fortunate to land in a challenging role with a ton of support at Google. Even still, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed during my first two weeks before realizing when I had felt just as lost before: My first time on a submarine. When I first struggled to get my bearings on a ship, I taught myself to focus on the task at hand and get the job done. 

Similarly, when I first started out in tech I didn’t necessarily know what program management or technical operations entailed, but I did know how to take absolute ownership over a specific assignment. These skills might have different names in the military and civilian worlds, but they do translate—and American businesses can benefit from this kind of tactical experience.

Veterans are uniquely qualified to tackle the challenges of building a company. We have the ability to handle uncertainty, face challenges with grit and perseverance, work collaboratively in a mission-focused and results-oriented manner, communicate clearly and lead effectively—all key attributes for aspiring entrepreneurs. I’ve seen this firsthand not only in my current role as Network Deployment Manager at  Google Fiber, but as a VetNet mentor at Atlas.

Based down the street from me in Durham at Google for Startups tech hub American Underground, Atlas helps guide the military community in life beyond the uniform through opportunities in education, employment training and entrepreneurship. I’ve loved bringing Google resources to help Atlas attract talent and assist transitioning service members with resumes and job-seeking advice.

And we want to discover what more we can do to help veterans pursue entrepreneurship. Google for Startups recently teamed up with Endeavor Research to learn more about the current state of veteran entrepreneurship in the United States. After speaking with industry leaders, startup ecosystem experts and the military community, we found that veterans face specific challenges when starting and growing a business—namely, access to capital and  networking opportunities. 

Sixty percent of veteran-owned businesses experienced a financing shortfall, compared to 52 percent of  businesses not owned by veterans. Part of this is because building the right types of networks in the business world can be a complicated process for veterans; they tend to have strong networks in the military community, but weaker civilian professional ties. We want to help change that, and our research surfaced four clear ways we can better support veteran entrepreneurs in our communities: 

  1. Focus on building highly curated connections to help veterans navigate the civilian business world.

  2. Build awareness of the value of veteran entrepreneurship and recognize the diverse needs of founders within this group.

  3. Assist veterans in securing professional and educational experiences that better prepare them for startups and growing a business. 

  4. Provide dedicated support to help veterans navigate financial challenges and secure capital. 

To put these findings to work and help veterans build the strong networks they need to succeed as entrepreneurs, we’re launching a three-month Google for Startups Fellowship for veterans in partnership with Atlas. The fellowship will match cohorts of transitioning service members at a startup in the Google for Startups Partner Network where, in addition to their fellowship work, they'll receive invites to educational workshops, mentorship and support from Google mentors like myself. Transitioning Service Members within 180 days of separation who meet the eligibility requirements of the DOD Skillbridge program can participate in the Google for Startups Fellowship. Interested candidates can learn more and apply for the Fellowship at www.atlas.vet/fellowship.

I’m extremely proud to be a part of this effort, and to know that Google prioritizes veterans like myself. These Google for Startups fellowships provide the crucial exposure veterans need to find their sea legs in the corporate world—and to prove that the transitioning military community has so much valuable knowledge, talent and experience to contribute. As one of my Atlas mentees, a U.S. Army veteran, pointed out: ”Soldiers don’t settle for less. Everyone needs that in business—a person who sees an issue and has the confidence to fix it.”

A wave of change for Southeast Asia’s internet economy

Over the past five years, Southeast Asia’s internet economy has experienced tremendous growth and change. But what we’ve seen in 2020 marks the biggest shift yet, as the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Company shows.


The report—At Full Velocity: Resilient and Racing Ahead—outlines how Southeast Asians navigating the coronavirus pandemic are using the internet in more ways and on a larger scale than ever before. 


Since the beginning of the year, 40 million people in Southeast Asia have connected to the internet for the first time (compared to 10 million in 2019 and 100 million between 2015 and 2019). With technology providing vital access to online shopping, food, healthcare, education, finance and entertainment, more than one in every three digital service consumers started using a new type of online service due to COVID-19. And of those new digital consumers, nine out of 10 plan to keep using at least one digital service beyond the pandemic.

Despite a global economic slowdown, and the severe impact on travel in particular, the gross merchandise value of the regional internet economy has held steady at an estimated $100 billion in 2020, and is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025. 


Technology’s vital role during the crisis


Eight out of ten people across the region said technology helped them get through the virus—and they used the internet for a wide range of reasons. In most of the sectors we looked at, new users made up more than 30 percent of total, but education, groceries and loans saw the biggest jumps. 

New digital service consumers by sector

The pandemic also saw demand for (and access to) digital services continue to expand beyond Southeast Asia’s biggest cities. In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, more than half the people new to digital services live in non-metropolitan areas. This is encouraging progress, given that the urban-rural digital divide is one of the main challenges the report has highlighted over recent years. 


The changing shape of the regional internet economy


Not surprisingly, e-commerce is growing faster than we could have imagined before the crisis: from $38 billion in value last year to $62 billion this year, and expected to reach $172 billion by 2025. Digital financial services are becoming more important, too: the average proportion of cash transactions declined from 48 percent of the total pre-COVID to 37 percent post-COVID. From here, the report finds that the annual value of total digital payment transactions across Southeast Asia will almost double to $1.2 trillion by 2025.
Digital financial service adoption

At the same time, new sectors are emerging, especially in education and health technology. 

At the peak of the pandemic, leading health apps were being used four times as much as they were before the pandemic and education technology app installations had increased three-fold.


Greater focus for businesses, cautious optimism for investors


Global uncertainty means Southeast Asia’s major technology companies are focusing on strengthening their business and becoming profitable, rather than on expanding into new areas. Funding for companies valued at more than $1 billion has dropped from $5.6 billion in 2019 to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2020. 


Overall, investors are cautiously optimistic. The number of deals has kept growing and we’re starting to see investors look towards new areas of opportunity in financial services, education and healthcare. For startups with strong ideas and business plans, there’s an available pool of capital worth almost $12 billion.

Investment funds available

Building for the opportunity ahead


COVID-19 has changed Southeast Asians’ daily lives in fundamental ways. The digital adoption that was projected to happen over several years has accelerated. And with its young, diverse and mobile-first population, and a host of talented start-ups, Southeast Asia can help shape the future of technology in Asia-Pacific and beyond. 


Like everywhere else in the world, Southeast Asia faces significant challenges in rebuilding from the pandemic—but there is such immense opportunity if we can help the region realise its potential. Working with our partners across the region, all of us at Google are committed to playing our part— fostering startups, expanding digital skills, and making the internet more helpful and accessible in every way we can. We’re ready to help build a strong, diverse and inclusive internet economy for every Southeast Asian.

A wave of change for Southeast Asia’s internet economy

Over the past five years, Southeast Asia’s internet economy has experienced tremendous growth and change. But what we’ve seen in 2020 marks the biggest shift yet, as the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Company shows.


The report—At Full Velocity: Resilient and Racing Ahead—outlines how Southeast Asians navigating the coronavirus pandemic are using the internet in more ways and on a larger scale than ever before. 


Since the beginning of the year, 40 million people in Southeast Asia have connected to the internet for the first time (compared to 10 million in 2019 and 100 million between 2015 and 2019). With technology providing vital access to online shopping, food, healthcare, education, finance and entertainment, more than one in every three digital service consumers started using a new type of online service due to COVID-19. And of those new digital consumers, nine out of 10 plan to keep using at least one digital service beyond the pandemic.

Despite a global economic slowdown, and the severe impact on travel in particular, the gross merchandise value of the regional internet economy has held steady at an estimated $100 billion in 2020, and is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025. 


Technology’s vital role during the crisis


Eight out of ten people across the region said technology helped them get through the virus—and they used the internet for a wide range of reasons. In most of the sectors we looked at, new users made up more than 30 percent of total, but education, groceries and loans saw the biggest jumps. 

New digital service consumers by sector

The pandemic also saw demand for (and access to) digital services continue to expand beyond Southeast Asia’s biggest cities. In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, more than half the people new to digital services live in non-metropolitan areas. This is encouraging progress, given that the urban-rural digital divide is one of the main challenges the report has highlighted over recent years. 


The changing shape of the regional internet economy


Not surprisingly, e-commerce is growing faster than we could have imagined before the crisis: from $38 billion in value last year to $62 billion this year, and expected to reach $172 billion by 2025. Digital financial services are becoming more important, too: the average proportion of cash transactions declined from 48 percent of the total pre-COVID to 37 percent post-COVID. From here, the report finds that the annual value of total digital payment transactions across Southeast Asia will almost double to $1.2 trillion by 2025.
Digital financial service adoption

At the same time, new sectors are emerging, especially in education and health technology. 

At the peak of the pandemic, leading health apps were being used four times as much as they were before the pandemic and education technology app installations had increased three-fold.


Greater focus for businesses, cautious optimism for investors


Global uncertainty means Southeast Asia’s major technology companies are focusing on strengthening their business and becoming profitable, rather than on expanding into new areas. Funding for companies valued at more than $1 billion has dropped from $5.6 billion in 2019 to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2020. 


Overall, investors are cautiously optimistic. The number of deals has kept growing and we’re starting to see investors look towards new areas of opportunity in financial services, education and healthcare. For startups with strong ideas and business plans, there’s an available pool of capital worth almost $12 billion.

Investment funds available

Building for the opportunity ahead


COVID-19 has changed Southeast Asians’ daily lives in fundamental ways. The digital adoption that was projected to happen over several years has accelerated. And with its young, diverse and mobile-first population, and a host of talented start-ups, Southeast Asia can help shape the future of technology in Asia-Pacific and beyond. 


Like everywhere else in the world, Southeast Asia faces significant challenges in rebuilding from the pandemic—but there is such immense opportunity if we can help the region realise its potential. Working with our partners across the region, all of us at Google are committed to playing our part— fostering startups, expanding digital skills, and making the internet more helpful and accessible in every way we can. We’re ready to help build a strong, diverse and inclusive internet economy for every Southeast Asian.

Halodoc uses AI to improve how doctors receive feedback

Due to Indonesia’s vast size and population, timely and reliable access to healthcare can sometimes be a challenge. Halodoc aims to change that with a mobile first-telemedicine platform that connects Indonesians to doctors and helps them arrange appointments, medicine deliveries and tests. 


What’s distinctive about the Halodoc platform is that it draws on human-centered artificial intelligence: a promising new area of research that uses continuous human feedback to improve how AI systems work, and provides a better experience for the people who rely on those systems. 


With support from Google’s Late Stage Accelerator, a program that assists high-potential startups, we assembled a team of doctors, data scientists, engineers, product managers and researchers to determine how technology could support Indonesian doctors’ work. One particular approach the team identified was using AI to replicate the mentoring and feedback that junior doctors receive from more experienced colleagues in hospitals—a process that’s important to improving quality of care, but is hard to reproduce on a larger scale.  


We set out to create an easy way to provide feedback in virtual health, and worked with Google’s machine learning experts in the Late-Stage Accelerator to determine the best approach. With Google’s guidance, Halodoc's engineers applied Natural Language Processing in Bahasa Indonesia to measure, rank, and provide insights that can inform doctors’ decisions across the country—using thousands of consultations to train their machine learning models. 


When doctors open the Halodoc app, they see information on how they performed based on their response time and quality index metrics, along with suggested actions on how they can improve their consultation quality.  They also have the option of receiving further feedback and coaching from more senior doctors if needed. 


Right now, more than five percent of Indonesians use Halodoc’s platform. As a result of applying AI principles to improve the quality of care that patients experience, our app ratings have increased from 4.5 to 4.8 stars in fewer than six months, while our overall doctor scores have improved by 64 percent.

Halodoc's app interface.

Halodoc’s telemedicine app enables doctors to deliver personalized feedback with assistance from ML-enabled insights that improve patient care.

From here, with Google’s help, we hope to continue simplifying Indonesia’s healthcare infrastructure and advance the application of AI in healthcare globally.

Halodoc uses AI to improve how doctors receive feedback

Due to Indonesia’s vast size and population, timely and reliable access to healthcare can sometimes be a challenge. Halodoc aims to change that with a mobile first-telemedicine platform that connects Indonesians to doctors and helps them arrange appointments, medicine deliveries and tests. 


What’s distinctive about the Halodoc platform is that it draws on human-centered artificial intelligence: a promising new area of research that uses continuous human feedback to improve how AI systems work, and provides a better experience for the people who rely on those systems. 


With support from Google’s Late Stage Accelerator, a program that assists high-potential startups, we assembled a team of doctors, data scientists, engineers, product managers and researchers to determine how technology could support Indonesian doctors’ work. One particular approach the team identified was using AI to replicate the mentoring and feedback that junior doctors receive from more experienced colleagues in hospitals—a process that’s important to improving quality of care, but is hard to reproduce on a larger scale.  


We set out to create an easy way to provide feedback in virtual health, and worked with Google’s machine learning experts in the Late-Stage Accelerator to determine the best approach. With Google’s guidance, Halodoc's engineers applied Natural Language Processing in Bahasa Indonesia to measure, rank, and provide insights that can inform doctors’ decisions across the country—using thousands of consultations to train their machine learning models. 


When doctors open the Halodoc app, they see information on how they performed based on their response time and quality index metrics, along with suggested actions on how they can improve their consultation quality.  They also have the option of receiving further feedback and coaching from more senior doctors if needed. 


Right now, more than five percent of Indonesians use Halodoc’s platform. As a result of applying AI principles to improve the quality of care that patients experience, our app ratings have increased from 4.5 to 4.8 stars in fewer than six months, while our overall doctor scores have improved by 64 percent.

Halodoc's app interface.

Halodoc’s telemedicine app enables doctors to deliver personalized feedback with assistance from ML-enabled insights that improve patient care.

From here, with Google’s help, we hope to continue simplifying Indonesia’s healthcare infrastructure and advance the application of AI in healthcare globally.