Painting Southeast Asia in a single brush stroke

One of the most interesting thing that I learn while working in an e-commerce company that has presence in Southeast Asia is that you CANNOT paint Southeast Asia in a single brush stroke.

The term Southeast Asia is like a western construct for whole area, for each of countries are so different especially in culture, the business process and the people.

The young native me used to think that if a certain product works for Singapore, you should be able to use it in Malaysia because we are similar in culture. Well I was wrong, we are “same same but different”

This is also one of the key reasons why it requires Grab to have a deep oocket in order to take market shares in Southeast Asia countries. The same is true how it is hard for Go-jek to expand out of indonesia. Simply because each country is different. Different needs, different regulations and business environment.

Now taking a step back, should I run a small business, how should I tackle this different market in an efficient way?