From Singapore with love – Our member Codemate writes about their experiences of doing business in Singapore

I am writing this blog post from our glass-walled WeWork office among the skyscrapers of downtown Singapore. During the past 5 months I’ve been ‘hustling’ (as the locals call bizdev) and hiring for our newest subsidiary in the number-one business hub of Southeast Asia. I find this a demanding responsibility and at the same time a hugely intriguing opportunity for Codemate and for myself. If you want to know more what’s happening here, read on.

Janne Salmi, Business Development Director at Codemate Pte. Ltd.

What are we doing in Singapore?

Most of all, our goal is to do business. Big boys’ business. This is worth mentioning since Codemate’s journey in Southeast Asia started already in 2007 but with more of a production focus, primarily serving our customers back in Europe. Having an office in the tropic has also served us well in attracting top talent in Finland.

In Singapore, we are building the business in a market-driven way, with an ultimate goal of having a self-sustained operation that has both the customers and the core team locally present, while of course being an integral part of our ecosystem globally.

Our target customers in Singapore are larger companies that are going through digital transformation and would like to tune their organisational culture towards higher clock speed, increasing overall agility. We knew that we couldn’t do this alone. That’s why we combined forces with Reaktor and established a joint-venture in Singapore. Codemate became part of Reaktor ecosystem already in 2017 when Reaktor invested in Codemate.

In addition to serving forward-looking local clientele, we want to be globally relevant for our corporate customers from Europe and the USA, as many of these MNC’s operate in Singapore.

codemate and reaktor joint venture directors

Jukka Katajaharju from Codemate and Peter Lindberg from Reaktor in Singapore, crafting a secret recipe for market entry.

Why Singapore?

First of all, why expand anywhere beyond the comfort of our home market in Finland? Well, decreasing risk is one important factor; the more diverse the sources of revenue, the less likely we will be hit by troubles in one industry or market. For the same reason, we can also get our share of the growth in the different markets we operate in. When you look at the numbers, it doesn’t make much sense to do business only in Finland, the market is relatively small and saturated.

See here more facts why Singapore is the place to be.

The region where things are happening.

Asia is where the people are. According to Hans Rosling, the world’s PIN is 1114: 1B people in Americas, 1B in Europe, 1B in Africa, 4B in Asia. In East and South Asia the economic growth is the strongest in the world right now: 5,8 per cent GDP growth and according to the UN the positive development continues. Getting a share of it is not easy, but it’s doable, as Reaktor’s example in Japan has shown. Codemate has been operating in the region for 12 years and already has a team in Thailand to support the operation, which made it logical to widen our reach in the region.

Singapore is a convenient base and a compact B2B market.

Singapore is the business hub in South-East Asia and feels like a well-off utopia among the surrounding countries; it’s clean, safe and secure, modern architecture is just amazing, corruption is not tolerated and high prices are mostly compensated by high salaries and lower taxes. Global corporations have favoured Singapore as the location for their regional HQ’s and, even as a market itself, the city of Singapore is “slightly” bigger than, for example, the crown jewel of the universe, Finland ($320Bln USD vs. $240Bln USD). English language, competent workforce and transparent bureaucracy all play in favor of Singapore.

Logic aside, I think many of the agencies that have ventured abroad, for example Reaktor, Idean, Vincit and Futurice have done so because the individuals had a drive for adventure, a thirst to do something bigger, something ‘world-class’. This way they could fulfill their lifelong dream of living and working abroad, without the need to say goodbye to their best friends at work.

Competitive Edge

The IT scene in Singapore is rather crowded, so we need to find a way to stand apart from the more established players in the market. The traditional software development team resourcing message is definitely not the right approach here since corporations have already set up cheap delivery centers in India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Our premium service and higher price point does not make sense for the traditional software development outsourcing needs.

Design services have more potential since Service Design and great UX has become increasingly appreciated and design is hard to do remotely. Currently, we’ve received the best results when talking about agile cultural transformation, through flagship execution projects. We can make an impact by showing the agile ways-of-working in practice and making the positive results visible to everyone in the corporation.  Adding design, coaching and the bigger agile transformation aspect in our services has prevented being labelled as ‘yet another software development vendor’.

Extended Team

We need more delivery muscles than the size of our current team in Singapore. We have a team of 30 people in Bangkok, able to join delivery projects with short notice and be physically present in Singapore for all the important project milestones. We will also leverage local partnerships and experienced freelancers in assembling the perfect customer teams. This is crucial for scaling up of the operation since we want to do our own recruiting process with care. After all, our goal is to assemble an autonomous team, capable of driving the future of Codemate and Reaktor in Singapore.

Codemates at the Singapore office.

Drop us a line

If you have business in Singapore, drop me a line and let’s catch up!
Beers on me!

From Singapore, with love,

Phone/WhatsApp: +65 83523836