The AppWorks Accelerator FAQ (for founders applying to AW#27)

AppWorks Accelerator was founded in 2010 by Jamie Lin, a startup community created by founders, for founders. We are committed to fostering the next generation of entrepreneurs in Greater Southeast Asia and to accelerating the region’s transition into the digital era. 

Every six months, we welcome founders trailblazing on the frontiers of web3, AI, and Southeast Asia, equipping them with the necessary resources, mentorship, and guidance to get their ventures off the ground. 

We know there are many considerations for founders when applying to an accelerator. That’s why we’ve created an FAQ page to help you decide whether or not AppWorks is suitable for your startup. 

As of May 8, AppWorks Accelerator #27 is open for applications. You can find important information about the Accelerator experience on our main page.

The FAQs

1. What do I need to know before joining an accelerator in Taiwan? What is AppWorks doing to help founders make the most out of the accelerator?

Since 2020, AppWorks has designed a hybrid online-offline program with a variety of activities for both local founders in Taiwan and international founders abroad. With Taiwan fully open, we encourage global founders from abroad to join us physically. 

Currently, up to six hours of online and offline sessions per week are provided, ranging from office hours with AppWorks Partners to meetings with mentors and peer founders from all over the region. Such meetings include founder mentoring sessions with veterans of the technology industry who have launched startups from zero to one and even listed several IPOs. You can rest assured that you will get to meet investors, journalists, corporate executives, and other partners who can make a positive impact on your founder journey through our hybrid activities.

If you’d like to leverage AppWorks to test out the Taiwan market or set up a technical team, we can provide suitable introductions to our network through online activities. However, based on our experience, we recommend that founders invest the necessary time and effort to personally understand Taiwan’s market and environment if you are interested in doing business in the country.

We believe that physical face-to-face engagement is still extremely effective for building strong relationships, and thus encourage founders to visit Taiwan and attend the accelerator in person for the most optimal experience.

2. Why does AppWorks now only admit founders working on AI, web3, or SEA? 

We believe that AI and blockchain are based on the good foundation that the internet has built, and the extended data applications and the decentralized model will be a huge disruption that founders must leverage in the next decade. According to Market and Markets, the global AI market size is valued at US$86.9 billion in 2022 and will continue to expand to US$407.0 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 36.2%. The increasing demand for automation, personalization, and optimization in various industries creates new opportunities for AI to drive innovation.

Generative AI, a subset of AI that involves creating new data or content, is also experiencing significant growth. By 2028, according to Market and Markets, the Generative AI market size is estimated to reach US$51.8 billion. The growing sophistication of AI algorithms, the proliferation of open-source frameworks, and the increasing availability of data allow founders to experiment with potential applications of AI across various industries, including healthcare, finance, retail, and gaming.

On the other hand, as the web3 industry starts to enter mass adoption, it requires infrastructure to seamlessly facilitate increasingly everyday transactions and activities. Meanwhile, applications for the web3 industry will speed up the process of onboarding end users. New primitives such as DAOs and protocols will completely disrupt the way people structure and run organizations from finance to entertainment to commerce—and this will all be done by leveraging the open, decentralized, permissionless, and trustless nature of blockchains. The time to build is now.

At the same time, SEA’s digital revolution is well underway, with a young, ever-expanding, and increasingly affluent middle class driving brisk economic growth across the region. The scale of Southeast Asia’s digital economy is estimated to reach US$1 trillion by 2030. Among them, Indonesia, with a population of nearly 300 million, has a median population of only about 30 years old and a high degree of Internet usage above 70%, maximizing its potential for innovation. Vietnam and the Philippines, with around 100 million population each, are open-minded to new technology, with crypto user penetration rates at 20% and 5%, ranking 1st and 14th in the world, respectively. As the digital economies of Southeast Asian countries are still developing, there are many opportunities for growth.

Therefore, this is the focus of our attention. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the popularity and penetration of mobile internet. If you want to capture life-changing opportunities in the next decade, it is important to think about how to leverage these key areas to create the future.

3. How can AppWorks Accelerator help a web3 founder?

As our web3 ecosystem has grown, so have opportunities for partnerships, knowledge exchange, and founder-to-founder support—all critical for entrepreneurs building in this network and community-driven space:

a. Grow with one of the largest web3 founder communities.

Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. After starting your own business, most of your friends and family won’t understand the ups and downs you’re experiencing as a founder. If you can share these experiences with fellow founders who are as capable and determined and who understand when you encounter setbacks, you will be more motivated to continue. In addition to about 50-60 other founders accelerating together in the same batch, we will hold frequent alumni gatherings where you’ll meet many alumni who have gone through the zero-to-one process. 

The web3 ecosystem within the AppWorks community now consists of almost 100 active teams with a total of 200 founders. These extraordinary web3 startups include  Pendle (AW#20), a DeFi yield-trading protocol that enables the tokenization and trading of future yield, Blocto (AW#19), a mobile portal to the blockchain world featuring seamless integrations with different wallets and web browsers; and Teahouse (AW#17), an on-chain liquidity management platform.

As one of the most flourishing web3 founder communities in the region, we can help support founders working on web3 products who want to learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship through introductions of resources and connections in the startup ecosystem. Moreover, founders can learn together with fellow founders as driven as you about tokenomics, DAOs, and community-building.

b. Stay ahead of the game as the ecosystem rapidly evolves and access premium development partners

In web3, startups developing on the right public chain and working with the right partners can help create synergies and accelerate scaling. Within the AppWorks web3 ecosystem, almost 100 teams have developed their products on various public chains, including Ethereum, Cosmos, and so on. If you are a founder building on these chains, you can always find a connection within our ecosystem.

AppWorks is proactively building a vibrant ecosystem for web3 startups to explore and connect with each other. We are one of the investors in the public chain Flow, developed by Dapper Labs, the creator of CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot. If you are interested in developing a new business model on Flow or the chance to talk to various stakeholders in the Flow ecosystem, you can receive more direct resources and support from AppWorks and Flow’s collaboration. Founders building things on Flow Chain will be able to enjoy support from the Dapper / Flow Team with Flow token grants.

At the same time, AppWorks builds partnerships with essential development tools, platforms, and cloud services such as Animoca Brands, Alchemy, and AWS to make sure that blockchain startups gain adequate support to grow.

4. How does AppWorks Accelerator help founders enter new markets?

Since 2009, AppWorks has made close connections within entrepreneur communities and in the venture capital ecosystem. When startup teams want to enter a new market, we can quickly help them learn from local partners to obtain key resources and business models that are tailored to different regions.

The AppWorks community includes our accelerator alumni, international startup teams that have received investment from AppWorks Venture Fund, and mentors with insight and experience. Our community of entrepreneurs is located all over the world, and many are from our key markets in Southeast Asia, such as Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, etc. For example, Eden Farm is an up-and-coming startup from Indonesia that is familiar with local logistics and agricultural products; while Carousell is a startup from Singapore, which focuses on C2C e-commerce and has expanded to 8 markets in Asia.

In addition to our community, AppWorks has also strategically cooperated with more than 20 venture capital funds across Southeast Asia and the web3 industry. Our partners include ACV, Golden Gate Ventures, Openspace Ventures, Ascend Vietnam Ventures, Foxmont Capital, Pantera Capital, Play Future Fund, etc. When entering a new market, we can easily cooperate with investors from different regions to help you expand local connections and business opportunities more efficiently.

5. What does AppWorks look for in applications?

When AppWorks reviews applications submitted by founders, we pay special attention to a founder’s north star. Some questions that might help you think about whether AppWorks is a good fit for you: 

  • Why did you launch your startup?
  • What problem do you want to solve and why?
  • What do you believe fundamentally needs to exist in this world that doesn’t already?
  • What kind of future do you want to create and how will you get there?
  • What have you already done to demonstrate your commitment to tackling this problem?

AppWorks Accelerator’s online application covers about 30 topics related to team background, product/service, business model, market analysis, and more. It is very detailed and requires time to complete. It also includes a required one-minute self-intro and product demo from the founder (CEO) for us to know you better.

6. Does AppWorks Accelerator cost anything?

No. AppWorks Accelerator has always been free for founders. We will not charge rent or service fees, nor will we require any form of compensation, such as sweat equity, tokens, options, revenue, or profit-sharing. Our exclusive mission is to help founders.

7. We need funding now, can we get an investment by joining AppWorks?

The short answer is you will have much better access to us than non-AppWorks accelerated teams. We will discuss with you and help you figure out at this stage of your startup’s journey if capital can give your startup a significant edge and/or take it to the next level and/or there are other more burning issues, e.g., achieving stronger product-market fit, figuring out a working go-to-market strategy, recruiting a solid co-founder, etc. Any AppWorks founder is welcome to start a discussion with us on fundraising anytime. We will do our best to advise and support you with US$212 million in total fund size. 

Please note, AppWorks Accelerator will never require teams to accept our investment before joining the accelerator, nor will teams ever need to provide any form of equity or revenue / profit share in return.

8. I am not a technical founder, or I need to find an engineer to help scale my idea, can I still apply?

Yes, you can. In a manner of speaking, you have come to the right country. 

Taiwan graduates over 25,000 hardware and computer science engineers each year and is world-famous for the engineering and computer science mastery that has boosted the quality of international companies like Apple and Acer in hardware and Google and Microsoft in software, to name but a few. 

We strongly recommend founders who come to Taiwan to check out the country’s vast human talent resources. Part of the founder journey will be about learning how to hire, and there is probably no better place in Asia to hire engineers than here.

9. My service (or product) has not yet started to make money. Can I still apply?

Of course! There probably isn’t a better time to learn in an accelerator than as a founder just starting out. This period before a founder has built a startup into a scalable business model with Product-Market Fit is called the “seed stage.” During this period, founders always need more than funding; they need a variety of entrepreneurial-related insights, inspiration from other founders, and room for trial and error. AppWorks Accelerator was built to provide these lessons and more.

10. I already raised a Series A / I’m profitable, is AppWorks right for me?

The most important thing for us is to identify where a founder is in their journey.

Reaching a funding goal can be a cause for celebration, but it’s also a relatively minor part of the growth of a founder. So many more things can go right or wrong, even with a funding round. There are many other facets to master. When we admit founders into the program, it is because we have carefully considered what they need as a founder, and how our resources and network, and Taiwan’s unique market and supply chain position in the world, can help them grow. 

Joel Leong and Henry Chan at ShopBack had already built a business model and received seed funding in 2015 when they launched in Singapore before they came to AppWorks Accelerator #13 in 2016. 

Joel told us that had the team known about Taiwan’s massive US$42.2 billion GMV e-commerce market and all the region-wide technical and tactical innovations that it would eventually yield, they would have made the move to Taiwan much sooner. It demonstrates that funding rounds and business model maturity do not limit founders in learning something new. As long as you think that AppWorks can help you in the entrepreneurial learning process, you should apply.

11. Since I am not a Taiwanese citizen, can you help me obtain a proper visa?

International founders admitted to AppWorks Accelerator, according to your qualifications and needs, AppWorks can help with your application for the Gold Card, Entrepreneur Visa, or Business Visa in Taiwan. This enables founders from overseas to concentrate on work in Taiwan without traveling abroad to sort out troublesome visa issues. We can offer advice on this process.  

AppWorks will closely track government policies and provide adequate support as the policy evolves.

12. Do I have to set up a company to join AppWorks Accelerator?

Not necessarily, but we recommend an overseas founder to set up a Taiwan office, especially those of you that are B2B facing. This may enable you to find business partners and negotiate commercial agreements later. AppWorks has professional accounting and legal specialists who can assist in handling procedures for landing in Taiwan.

13. What is the difference between applying during the first round vs. the final round? 

The application period is split into two intakes, with interviews and admissions facilitated on a rolling basis. Based on past experience, teams that submit their application earlier tend to have a higher chance of being admitted and are also immediately granted access to all the resources that AppWorks Accelerator has to offer.

14. I have previously applied to AppWorks and have been rejected, can I apply again? Will it affect the chances of admission?

Reapplying represents the determination of the founder and is a positive signal for us. Therefore, we will re-evaluate all aspects, not only for the growth of the founder but also for the progress of the company.

We hope the above FAQ can help you clarify your questions about AppWorks Accelerator. If you seek more clarity, please write to: [email protected] and we will try to answer your questions.

If you’re a founder working on AI, web3, or Southeast Asia, you’ve come to the right place! Applications for AppWorks Accelerator #27 will be open until July 10, 2023.