Sophie is a Principal leading the Southeast Asia Arm, that is responsible for meeting, helping and investing in great founders in the region. She joined AppWorks as an Associate in 2020 and was subsequently promoted as a Principal in 2023. Prior to AppWorks, Sophie had 10 years of public equity experience. She was part of the portfolio management team at Neuberger Berman, focusing on emerging market opportunities. Prior to that she served as a research analyst at Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, and London-based Autonomous Research. Sophie holds a Master of Finance with distinction from Warwick Business School and BS Finance from National Taiwan University. Her passion and expertise, however, extend far beyond just researching companies and industries. She is also an author of two published poetry books and holds a keen interest in human psychology and human behavior.
Qoala is an InsurTech company that has experienced remarkable growth, now boasting a presence across three Southeast Asian markets: Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Harshet Lunani and Tommy Martin, Qoala’s co-founders, possess strong insights and a deep understanding of the pain points found throughout the insurance industry value chain. Although this industry seems mature and proven in developed markets, its complexity and strict regulation have made it challenging for technology adoption. Meanwhile, the correlation between insurance penetration and economic growth is not guaranteed, which presents an inherent risk. However, it is precisely this challenging path that attracts committed and insightful founders like Harshet and Tommy. Their dedication to making a difference is a key reason why we are placing faith in them and Qoala to continue growing and transforming the insurance landscape in Southeast Asia.
Dedicated builders driven by ambition and unwavering vision
For some people, life is full of hero’s journeys. They will always end up on a challenging path. At first, it may seem to be deemed by fate. Eventually, it becomes a deliberate choice as a less traveled or seemingly impossible path usually bestows the richest life experiences and most fruitful outcome or even profoundly impacts the world. This is what Harshet has been through and shaped his experience as a founder.
Hailing from a small town in India without much privilege, Harshet learned the lesson of survival from a young age. He left home to study in a (non-privileged) boarding school from age 8 to 17, where he became ‘battle-tested’: rigorous daily routines, necessary social skills to survive among teenagers living 24/7 together, being a top player in cricket, and remarkable academic performance. His grit and determination eventually secured him a sponsored master’s degree in math at University of Oxford and job offer in London, working at Merrill Lynch and then Lehman Brothers. However, Harshet joined these two banks during the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-2008. So, he soon witnessed how a seemingly large and impregnable financial institution could collapse overnight, and how it had an impact on so many individuals losing their life savings. This seeded a deep-down entrepreneurial desire for Harshet to build something that could make the world a more secure place. After working in finance, Harshet joined BCG and later Endeavor, where he gained access to large corporations and startups to learn about business models and entrepreneurship. When he had the chance to help BIMA, an InsurTech startup from Ghana, launch in Indonesia, Harshet immediately jumped on the opportunity.
As the General Manager of BIMA for four years, he set up the entire business from scratch, growing the business to US$1.5M scale with 80 employees in Indonesia. Unlike when he started his career in finance, this time, Harshet experienced the storm face-first. Smartphones were experiencing massive penetration in Indonesia and Gojek had just reached unicorn status. Harshet foresaw the inevitable dead-end of BIMA’s business model based on selling insurance products from phone balances. Unable to convince the Ghana headquarters, Harshet remained resolute to continue his journey on InsurTech but instead building something on his own. This is a field where he built tremendous expertise and track record, and recognized the potential to create significant value for stakeholders and individuals alike, resonating with the vision of the world he wanted to build. However he knew he had to take the lead role in creating such a business, and ultimately left to launch Qoala in 2018.
Before Qoala, there was actually a first attempt that fell short called Kelola. Undeterred, he met with Tommy Martin, the investor behind Kelola, who has a strong background in fintech. Tommy’s experience as an engineer at Nokia, business consultant at Accenture and EY, and product and marketing lead at Traveloka offered a holistic perspective that complemented Harshet’s skills. They quickly found that they had great compatibility and set sail to start Qoala together. Tommy’s expertise in product development and business strategy has been crucial in enabling Qoala to build products that cater to the intertwined interests of all users and stakeholders in the industry. Tommy, like Harshet, had witnessed the transformative power of a successful business firsthand through his parents, who turned their family’s fortunes around through entrepreneurship. So that Tommy could be the first generation in his family to live a comfortable life and even study abroad. However, watching his parents conquer their life ambitions helped Tommy form a deep-down desire to build something on his own too. Tapping into his entrepreneurial DNA, Tommy felt compelled to take an 80% pay cut and go against his parents’ wishes by returning to Indonesia. This unwavering determination serves as his guiding light, and he is committed to building a business that can change people’s lives and create his own path.
Strategic approach to innovation and staying ahead of the curve
The partnership between Harshet and Tommy has proven to be a powerful combination. Harshet’s experience building BIMA allowed him to identify the tremendous potential of the next paradigm shift, while Tommy’s insights into major digital platforms enabled Qoala to establish its initial product-market fit through a collaboration with Traveloka. This success was no mere coincidence; the duo had devised a methodical roadmap for expanding Qoala’s presence within the existing value chain. They first targeted areas with high traffic and data concentration, which allowed Qoala to develop unique products. With these products in hand, they focused on building critical distribution channels, eventually becoming vital partners for insurers. This entire process has been tech-enabled, and as the momentum grew, Qoala expanded into Thailand, a larger market essential for a VC-backed company’s growth.
Today, the rest is history. Qoala achieved fourfold growth in gross written premium over the past two years, with a primary footprint spanning three markets. However, the ambitious founders show no signs of stopping. They are now exploring an additional step in the growth flywheel by testing direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels with the data and know-how accumulated over the past four years. Although still in early stages, Qoala possesses all the necessary elements to capture the market quickly as consumers become more mature and educated. It is hard not to be inspired by visionary founders who always stay ahead of the curve.
SEA a nascent landscape for InsurTech to make their mark
While advanced APAC countries boast an average insurance penetration rate of 9%, Southeast Asia’s figures have remained relatively low at 1-3% for Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In comparison, India demonstrates a higher penetration rate of 4-5%, despite having a lower Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. While the mandatory auto insurance requirement in India is one primary driver of adoption, there’s also an intrinsic hidden risk: The correlation between insurance penetration and economic growth is not guaranteed. Or we should say, the correlation depends on many external factors such as money supply and stock market capitalization as demonstrated by several academic studies (Chang et al., 2012, Pradhan et al., 2016, Dash et al., 2018).
The insurance sector is a tough space. A green field like Southeast Asia has huge uncertainties, while mature markets have left limited room for startups to disrupt. In high penetration countries such as the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Africa, market structures are relatively unshakeable due to stringent regulations and high barriers to entry. Drawing from our experience in Taiwan, we have observed that most digital players face challenges in scaling their businesses. For consumer-focused ideas, the market size often has an actually lower ceiling than expected, limiting growth potential. Meanwhile, enterprise-focused initiatives struggle to expand as enterprise customers possess substantial bargaining power and resources, which enable customers to implement digital solutions independently.
That silver-lining is the digital-native mindset of Southeast Asia. From Qoala, we’ve seen that insurance companies in the region are increasingly open to collaborating with digital solutions, while digital platforms (such as Shopee, Traveloka, Tiki, etc.) are motivated to monetize their traffic through financial products. Additionally, individual consumers in the region have also embraced digital technologies, making them more receptive to innovative insurance offerings.
AppWorks is here to support great entrepreneurs in the region
Success in this market requires visionary founders with a deep care for users across the entire value chain. Harshet and Tommy, the founders of Qoala, have demonstrated this through their exponential growth. Their methodical approach, combined with their complementary founder qualities resulted in amazing growth traction and market expansion. Most importantly, they are both ambitious and driven by their ultimate north star. As a firm believer in supporting great entrepreneurs, AppWorks is proud to back Harshet, Tommy, and the Qoala team, and we look forward to contributing to their journey with our ecosystem of 400 active startups and over 1,400 likeminded founders.
If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI and web3, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.
Wistron has been working closely with AppWorks since 2014 and is one of the major limited partners of AppWorks Fund II and Fund III. It also invested in MoBagel (AW#16), ANIWARE (AW#17), LucidPix (AW#18), and other alumni who have graduated from AppWorks Accelerator. Wistron and AppWorks have been working closely together and have a long-term strategic partnership, and launched the Wistron Accelerator in September 2021. AppWorks, itself a leading accelerator in Greater Southeast Asia, provides core logistics and operations support.
We put together some frequently asked questions for startup teams who still had questions about the Wistron Accelerator program after reading the information on the landing page. If you have similar questions, we hope you can find the answers below.
1. What outcomes does Wistron expect to achieve through the Accelerator program? What kind of support can Wistron provide?
Some domain-specific perks include:
a. Access to C-level Mentors from Wistron subsidiaries/business units
The most significant value of this accelerator is that the C-levels of different business units at Wistron will serve as your Mentors. Startups in the Wistron Accelerator can directly discuss partnerships and business insights with C-level Mentors at Wistron, significantly increasing the chance of collaborative success.
The Mentors participating in the Wistron Accelerator are from the following business units:
Wistron Group (including Innovation Integration Center, and the CVC team)
People who have experience working with enterprises know that the CEO or C-level manager is usually responsible for the strategy, and their team is accountable for execution. Therefore, if you can directly communicate with high-level managers, you may significantly increase the chances of developing a strategic partnership, new services, and new business.
In addition, even though startups already have domain knowledge in their focus area, when facing different industries and large enterprises, there is still much to learn, including both hard and soft skills.
In the Wistron Accelerator program, Mentors take on the role to solve the aforementioned issues. During the accelerator period, startups will have in-depth collaboration and interaction with the heads of the designated business unit. Startups can further understand companies’ needs, plans, and insights, and learn how to work with large corporations effectively.
b. Exclusive PoC collaboration with Wistron
Startups running B2B businesses know that it takes a long time to successfully onboard corporate partners because of the different organizational nature and the longer decision-making processes. It’s very common to take a quarter or even more than six months to kick off a collaboration.
Wistron Accelerator has thoughtfully planned the schedule, process, and goals to speed up the collaboration process. The startups participating in the Wistron Accelerator will directly collaborate with Wistron’s business units or subsidiaries to come up with a PoC. During the program, AppWorks will facilitate the discussion and implementation of the PoC. Startups can develop the minimum viable product (MVP) within the four-month timeline and further discuss more in-depth collaboration after the program.
2. What are the important factors you consider when evaluating applications?
The application review process combines AppWorks’s experience in mentoring startups and Wistron’s industry expertise. We are looking for founders who continuously work on themselves and have a clear North Star in their founder journey, which we believe will help founders overcome obstacles and build up the product’s core competitive advantages.
The following questions can help you think about whether you are suitable to join Wistron Accelerator:
Why did you start your business?
What problem do you want to solve? Why?
What efforts have you made in solving these problems?
How is your product different from existing solutions?
What do you expect from the collaboration with Wistron? What value can you bring to Wistron?
3. Is there a charge for the Wistron Accelerator? If we need capital now, will we receive investment after joining?
Wistron Accelerator is an entirely free service for founders. We will not ask for rent, service fees, or any types of concessions such as stock, options, revenue, or profit-sharing. At the same time, every enrolled startup will receive a NT$200K subsidy from Wistron, which is not in exchange for any shares.
Wistron has been a bullish strategic investor, in recent years investing more than NT$10 billion with a total of 60 companies in their portfolio. In 2020, Wistron established a corporate venture capital (CVC) team and is actively looking into strategic investments. Startups selected for the Wistron Accelerator will have the opportunity to discuss further collaboration or investment with Wistron CVC, business units, or its subsidiaries during and after the program.
4. Why does Wistron recruit startups only from AI, IoT, cloud, cyber security, education, and medical technology industries?
Wistron is one of the world’s leading manufacturers in the ICT industry. In recent years, Wistron has been investing in R&D, tech innovation, and diversified product development, and has also seized on the growing trend of cloud applications. They have successfully integrated a multitude of hardware devices, software services, and cloud applications, and offer technical service platforms and solutions. During this time they have also expanded their business to new fields like education, corporate services, IoT, and medical care.
Through the Wistron Accelerator, Wistron hopes to share its industry experience and rich resources with startups, and to explore innovative opportunities by working on a PoC together. Wistron is happy to be one of the case studies for startups to test their B2B solution. Wistron Group also expects to develop growth opportunities for the next decade through this collaboration.
5. What stage of startups is suitable for the Wistron Accelerator?
We do not have a strict standard on the stage of the startup. But we do recommend startups that have experience working with enterprises or have a few proven PoCs to apply. These startups should be able to better utilize the four-month timeline and can reasonably expect a certain level of results from the program.
If you are still in the MVP stage and have not yet defined your target customers, we would suggest you focus on developing your product first, try to get some initial users, collect feedback, and iterate accordingly. Once you validate the problem you want to solve and know the core advantage of your product, that will be a better time to apply for the Wistron Accelerator.
If you already have a product prototype but have not yet established a company, we recommend that you complete the company setup process first. From our experience, it can help you onboard business partners and initiate collaborations more efficiently.
AppWorks can provide professional accounting and legal services to help founders set up a company, whether you are from Taiwan or overseas.
6. I am not a citizen of Taiwan. Can you help me get a visa?
Wistron and AppWorks can assist international founders enrolled in the Wistron Accelerator to apply for the Entrepreneur Visa, the employment Gold Card or the Business Visa based on certain conditions. Founders from overseas can concentrate on their work without worrying about visa issues.
We will closely track government border policies regarding COVID-19 and provide adequate support as the policy changes.
7. While participating in the Wistron Accelerator, do we have to stay at Wistron’s office all day from Monday to Friday? Can we participate remotely?
We do not stipulate work locations. Every startup will discuss the meeting frequency, and format with the Mentor on a case-by-case basis.
If you need coworking space during the accelerator program, you can reach out to Wistron and AppWorks. We can provide free coworking space based on your needs.
8. The application questions are written in English. Will writing in Chinese affect the score?
Wistron Accelerator’s application has 26 questions, covering team, product, business model, market analysis, etc. It requires a certain amount of time and effort to fill out. We hope that by this design, we can help every team clarify their current status and the assistance they are looking for.
Filling in the application is like having a health check-up. Founders must think profoundly about their products, market strategies, team and the overall industry environment. Therefore, regardless of if you decide to apply or not, we still recommend you to carefully think about these questions.
We encourage you to answer in English; however, using Chinese will not affect the results. The most important thing is to express your views clearly. Furthermore, we also encourage the founder (CEO) to make a one-minute self-introduction video for us to get to know you better.
9. What is the difference between the first round and final round application?
Wistron Accelerator’s admission is on a rolling basis. Based on previous experience, teams that applied earlier had a higher chance of being selected. They could also know the results earlier to have adequate time to plan for the PoC. Therefore, we encourage founders to apply early to avoid high competition during the final application deadline.
We hope the answers mentioned above can help you clarify any questions about the Wistron Accelerator.
If there are further questions, please send a message to us or write to: [email protected]. We will reply to you as soon as possible.
[Calling founders working on AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, EduTech, and MedTech. The deadline for the Early Bird Round is June 20, 2023]
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.
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 recommendfounders 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 atShopBackhad 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 massiveUS$42.2 billion GMV e-commerce marketand 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 theGold Card, Entrepreneur Visa, orBusiness 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 forAppWorks Accelerator#27 will be open until July 10, 2023.