2018 predictions from insightful international investors

December 21, 2017

Years ago I started publishing an annual list of technology predictions from global venture capitalists. By design, I deliberately chose VCs beyond the usual American household names, whose voices were not necessarily heard on the world stage.

Last year all of the tech prognostications came from women VCs. Even (especially?) by Silicon Valley standards, this felt quite unique and I’m proud of that.

For this season’s set of predictions, I am again pleased to be able to give the floor to an all-female cast of investors, this time a collection of insightful VCs from Asia. I’ve had the honour of interacting with each of these individuals and encourage all readers to take note of them. Their already noteworthy accomplishments will likely continue to grow.

May 2018 bring us further enlightenment.


Kanako Honda — DCM Ventures, Japan

From a high-level perspective, data analytics combined with delivering value proposition that will ultimately result in monetization will become even more important in 2018. In the recent 1-2 years, startups were able to gather large funds from VCs and concentrated on growing the user base by putting short term economics aside. As these startups, such as Uber, LimeBike, Wework etc, successfully built sizable audience and became a platform, there will be companies that will utilize big startup’s network effect and deliver various values to each touchpoint and create monetization model that doesn’t require large funding.

From a geopolitical view, edtech in Japan will start to rise as education is becoming one of the hottest topic of national policy. Although edtech has been considered as a niche, slow and unprofitable market for startups to jump in for quite a while, companies are starting to learn from the past and coming up with ways to build sustainable business within this sector. I hope 2018 will be the dawn of edtech era in Japan.


Vorawan “Michelle” Wangpanitkul — Digital Ventures, Thailand

I recall 2016 being at the height of the blockchain buzz. Blockchain pretty much intercepted every use case in and out of fintech. While I am a big believer in blockchain, I believe there will only be a few blockchain-powered use cases that survive to commercialization, ones that require an immutable distributed ledger to tackle its pain point (and there aren’t many!). Beyond payments & remittance, the next one should be KYC. Identity is at the foundation of banking, and getting it right is crucial and win-win for everyone. I personally think blockchain-powered KYC is an agenda that regulators need to push forward, and with Singapore and India’s regulators already testing this, 2018 might be the year blockchain-KYC gets adopted mainstream, and other regulators follow in.

Geographically speaking, I think there will be a lot of interesting things coming out of India. RBI has pushed forward e-KYC and successfully captured biometrics data in 99% of its adult population. With a 1.3billion population, fragmented market, huge engineering talent pool, and a lot of financial & infrastructural barriers being tackled at a state level, India is the country ripe for innovation and transformation. My 2018 prediction – lots of capital flooding into India.


Joanna Cheung, HBCC Investment and TUS International, China

The paradigm will continue to shift from ‘made in China’ to ‘created in China’. The giants of innovative technology that are emerging today are original Chinese innovations. Increasingly, we will see these original and successful companies expand abroad, notably to the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Innovations in deep tech, such as artificial intelligence, clean technology, robotics, RPA, are areas we’re particularly excited about.



Mayu Morishima, Beyond Next Ventures, Japan

In Japan, tech startups, especially from universities, are receiving increasing attention partly due to government initiatives, and biotech/medical companies occupy the majority of this space. The trend of precision medicine is also a major target for the development of startups, which typically have smaller-scale R&D capability. Large companies from other fields are also increasingly entering the healthcare sector, and M&A activity by these companies to secure innovative technology is becoming popular. Therefore, it is clear that biotech, healthcare, and medical startups will be hot in 2018.

Attractive fields include 1) regenerative medicine driven by induced pluripotent stem cell biology as well as a favorable regulatory environment; 2) digital heath, with the first smartphone application to be registered as a medical device and validated by clinical evidence about to launch; and 3) telemedicine, which is expected to be boosted by the medical fee structure revision coming in 2018. In addition to these attractive fields; however, I believe that a crucial part of VC investment should also include envisioning and creating new fields by investing in promising technologies that fall outside of established trends. I will keep looking for such pioneering innovations in 2018 as well!


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