The Frontier Incubators program received 112 applications from around the Asia-Pacific. We are incredibly happy with the result, and want to express our thanks to everyone who helped spread the word. Our data shows that around half of applications came through social media and personal referrals — which echoes the insights about attracting quality applicants provided by our program partners. The quality of applications is extremely high, and selection will be tough. With the selection process now well underway, we would like to share six key observations that have emerged from our initial application analysis and review.
Of the 112 applications received 53 originated from Southeast and East Asia, 46 from South and West Asia, and 13 from the Pacific. Interestingly, this representation from country to country is fairly consistent with density of population.
Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Vietnam had the greatest number of applicants. While this likely reflects the strength of our networks and our partnerships in these countries, it also reflects the number of entrepreneurship support providers active, and (to some extent) the strength of support systems.
The genders of teams were surprisingly balanced (51.9% male, 47.9% female, and 0.2% non-binary), however there was significant disparity in the genders of their cohorts.
This data highlights the importance of efforts to increase engagement from women entrepreneurs, to understand barriers to their participation, and to ensure that programs work for women. As discussed in the webinar hosted with GALI and Village Capital, programs that focus on women achieve better results for all their entrepreneurs, irrespective of their gender. For further information on ways to use data to improve incubator / accelerator programs see our blog with GALI and Village Capital.
The corporate form of the applicant organisations was balanced across the three main categories: for-profit (34), hybrid (48) and not-for-profit (37). However, older programs were more likely to be not-for-profit, while newer programs were much more likely to be for-profit.
The majority of applicants work with the broader team through their programs, rather than just the founder(s), and almost 70% offer mentoring / coaching that extends beyond the structured incubation / acceleration program. This reflects the importance of ongoing support, and of efforts to build lasting relationships.
92% of employees across all applicants were local to the country of operation. 56 of the 112 applicant teams were entirely made up of only local employees, and only 2 were entirely staffed by foreigners.
Among the challenges cited in applications, investor relations was the most common (68%), followed by business model sustainability (60%) and building networks / partnerships (50%).
In addition to those who submitted applications, the Frontier Incubators program also had 240 sign-ups for the series of webinars we are hosting with our partners. Summaries and recordings of these five series are available as a resource for incubators and entrepreneurs who would like to expand their capacity to support entrepreneurs and innovators.
You can also keep in touch via #FrontierIncubators on Twitter and Facebook.