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Exposure and Experience: An AccelerAsian Internship

– by Nathan Peeters, Business Development Manager, AccelerAsia

I left Melbourne to take up an internship at AccelerAsia in Singapore with two goals in mind: acquiring exposure and experience. So far, reality has far exceeded expectations – in a unique company and office environment, I have gained years of experience in six months.

Exposure

Coming from an environment (and a network) of any full-time student from a distant corner of the world, it was certainly overwhelming to be thrown into a fast-paced business development setting.

AccelerAsia occupies a quaint conservation shophouse built in the pre-WW2 period, and its team is comprised of a multidisciplinary, multinational community with a massive network spanning a great number of industries.

Armed with a very shallow understanding of enterprise technology, I was assigned to a Dutch company that specialises in building inventory optimisation software. Progressing along the steep learning curve, I have been exposed to everything from traditional enterprise technologies such as enterprise resource planning systems to AI-driven data management platforms and world-leading social media marketing technologies.

A great pull factor towards AccelerAsia is its business model, which is founded on the ability to build a tangible brand presence and revenue stream in a new market. Fascinated by the idea of taking a product and creating a business around it, I had hoped to learn in a practical sense the steps to successful business development and brand building. From studying a product and the prospective market, to a first roadshow and deal signing, I have fulfilled this desire to learn at AccelerAsia.

In hindsight, the most impressive skill I have been exposed to was the ability to — during a fast-paced prospective client meeting — take a snapshot of what the client side had shared with us and synthesising the optimal response in a matter of seconds. This response had to take into account the potential of the opportunity, strategic relationships and situational context. This is the fast-paced high-level processing skill I hope to take back with me in my future career.

Experience

The idea of a “business development firm” is the best attempt at encapsulating what AccelerAsia is. However, this is an inadequate description of what we actually do and how we operate.

For our clients, we are a commercial solution to expanding and scaling into the Asian Pacific and Middle Eastern markets. Our core responsibility is to drive sales. But we’re also actively involved in other functions such as marketing and market research to supplement our clients’ business development needs. Thus, not only have I been involved in business development and sales, but also in business development market research and marketing activities.

For AccelerAsia Ventures, our hands-on investment arm, I assisted our Managing Director in researching and evaluating venture opportunities, an activity I found to be challenging yet insightful — this has greatly enriched the value of the experience I have had.

Skills

My role as Business Development Manager develops a distinct set of skills.

At AccelerAsia, you need to learn to quickly handle multiple clients, opportunities, and ventures that you must be up-to-date with. You must be adaptable and dynamic, as your mind switches between seemingly unrelated topics throughout the day — from business development for enterprise software to social media marketing content creation, to conference scheduling. 

Working at a tech-centric company opens doors to ground-level and insider information on the latest technology, industry trends and news – and sometimes I get to play a part in actually creating news.  

The most interesting observation I have made would be in the technology life cycle. For some more mature and time-tested technologies, the market seems saturated with little differentiation between products, whereas the most advanced and cutting-edge technologies are being taken up by a small number of well-known early adopters. Knowing the life cycles of different types of technology is important, particularly in a reality where university students choose majors based on what is and isn’t under threat of automation.

Amongst the fast-growing markets for technology, Australia is a unique market with tremendous potential. This uniqueness is derived from both demographic and geographic factors. With the challenge of an ageing population, Australia’s business landscape is shifting towards services as well as high-value technology and innovation-driven business. Australia’s vast size, sparse population, and isolated location make technology a central aspect of keeping up within an interconnected world.

Recognising this potential and now equipped with knowledge, experience and newfound skills, I am thrilled to be part of the pioneering team of AccelerAsia’s Australia operations, which will be based in my hometown, Melbourne.

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