EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re in Myanmar, designing the incubator program for Ideabox. It will be an amazing way to build your startup or partner to bring your existing business into South East Asia’s next growth market. If you can’t wait to start, here’s some insights about Yangon today. We’ll keep this updated. You can expect it to grow quickly.
With a number of startups sprouting up along with more mature companies, Myanmar’s startup scene is ready to jump to new heights. Some investment companies with startup focus are in town and there has been at least startup fellowship program.
Serviced offices are available in town with prices ranging from USD $30/day to USD $450/month with high speed internet access and full office facilities. Places to go are:
- My Yangon Office
- Hintha Serviced Offices
- Sakura Tower Offices
Another option many entrepreneurs take for fast internet access is at F&B outlets of international hotels in town. Traders Hotel is particularly popular for its unlimited high speed internet.
Yet another option is to be a member of local space called DevLabs Yangon started by local tech entrepreneur Ravi & his partner Brad. A decent internet connectivity and a great place to meet local developers at work. “No-download” policy applies during office hours to maintain the internet speed. Project Hub Yangon also offers a co-working space for entrepreneurs but not limited to tech/IT related.
For longer term, there’s no strict zoning policy in Yangon yet thus any apartment can be an office and an office can accommodate residential quarters too. One draw back is that rental charges for private properties are paid in full for the term of contract. If you are renting for 5 years, it would mean you will be forking out 5 years worth of rent at the start of term. It will become one of the biggest investment for a startup.
Apart from renovating the space, another upfront cost is getting internet, phone lines & mobile phones.
Estimated setup costs & running costs
- “Fibre Broadband” Internet – Setup: $450 – $500 Running:$50-$150/month
- Mobile phone – Setup: $100-$150 Running: $0.05/minute of call & $0.025/SMS
- Fixed line phone – $100 – Running: maintenance fees & $0.025/minute of call
Currently there’s an exemption scheme for small and medium business without needing a company registration. All you need to do is to pay a municipal tax for the business. The scheme covers for 3 years after which the owner will need to register their businesses.
Company registration is getting simplified especially for businesses related to internet since it’s considered a service business and there is no foreign ownership restriction. It doesn’t necessarily mean foreigners will have the same treatments as citizens.
Registering a company fully owned by citizen(s) of Myanmar will go through a fairly straight forward process of getting approval and it can be as easy as deposing a certain amount of money ($5,000 or equivalent in MMK) at a bank and paying registration fees.
Anything less than 100% owned by a citizen brings in a bit of complication since all the owners of the company will have to to through a clearance process showing their past records such as CV for individuals or tax filings if it’s a corporate entity.
It is no wonder that even the biggest IT services companies have holding companies in Singapore and runs the local business as fully owned subsidiary of the holding company. This process makes life easier for later changes to the ownership of the company.
Most of the companies are feeling the talent shortage severely. Some work their way out by offering on job traineeship for inexperienced engineers, offering the selected ones full time opportunities. There are others who conduct technical courses for a fee and tapping on the best in these classes for a job at their teams.
There are a few training institutes to be mentioned.
- MCC – A massive training institute with many branches offering from the most basic computer literacy courses to degree level classes through their oversea partner universities
- KMD – Very similar to MCC with more focus on basic computer skills.
- Gusto Institute – Smaller institute compared to previous two but a number of entrepreneurs we have seen in the industry had been trained in Gusto.
Salaries – A fresh graduate trainee may work for free or for a salary of $80 a month. More experienced engineer who can be trusted with some independent work can earn US$250-US$350 range. Talented developers depending on their skills are known to be hired for various prices from US$800 a month to US$2500 a month. Engineers with significant education and experience overseas can be offered higher salaries which may even compare well with jobs overseas.
Where to meet people
Barcamp – is one place where everybody in the whole country who is related to technology is expected to participate. The level of knowledge vary from students coming in for something new to veterans conducting talks. Happens once every year in the early months.
More focused DevCon is for developers who feel the need to share their knowledge with their own industry. Every year towards the end of the year.
Various trade shows organised by industrial bodies and other organisers. Happens throughout the year and it might even be a little hard to track. ideabox maintains a calendar with voluntary contribution by each organisers.
Meetups – ideabox is planning to organise entrepreneur meet ups every month for local entrepreneurs and whoever happens to be in town. Follow our FB page for updates.
Hardware Meetups – Silicon Straits an ideabox partner works with local hardware groups to organise occasional meet-ups based on different hardware technology. Join local FB groups. Myanmar PIC group is a good place to watch for these.