Talking to the founders of Asia Recon

Mathew Benjamin and Jason Lim from Asia Recon
Mathew Benjamin (left) and Jason Lim (right) from Asia Recon


Asia is awash with tech and entrepreneurial opportunities and Asia Options is excited to see the recent launch of Asia Recon.

Alice Slevison from Asia Options sat down with Asia Recon Co-Founders Mathew Benjamin and Jason Lim to discuss the inspiration behind Asia Recon and to find out more about the inaugural Singapore – China Program which will be held later this year between September 6-13th.

Both Mathew and Jason have spent a great deal of time in Asia and they are using their knowledge of the region to bring together Australians who are deeply involved in the technology, innovation and start-up ecosystem to undertake a 7-day mission to Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.

Jason has spent over 4 years living in Beijing, during which he undertook Chinese language studies at Tsinghua University and cofounded two start-ups, TechNode, which is a media business and Koombah, an online to offline real estate business. While Mathew completed his graduate studies in Chinese law and languages in Shanghai and Taipei, he travels regularly across Asia for work and play.

Mathew previously worked within the business development and strategy team for NAB Asia in Mumbai and has also been a consultant for the Australia China Business Council. Prior to this, Mathew spent 5 years working across the real estate funds management industry.



About Asia Recon

Asia Recon is a program set up to help foster, develop, and build Australia’s engagement across the technology, innovation and entrepreneurial sector within Asia by promoting the transfer of people, ideas and capital. Asia Recon seeks to become the peak organisation for establishing economic relationships and value between Asia and Australia across the technology, innovation and entrepreneurship space.

The first Asia Recon Tour aims to take a group of delegates on a 7-day tour to 3 key Asian tech start-up hubs, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing in September 2015. The tour will take delegates to visit tech company offices, start-up offices, innovation labs, incubators and accelerators, co-working spaces and tech parks within each buzzing city.

“There are very few platforms that offer a program with such diversity,” says Asia Recon Director Mathew Benjamin.

From entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, accelerators and incubator managers, government representatives & policy advisors, universities and research institutions, delegates will be exposed to a wide range of perspectives.

The delegates will spend 2 days in each city meeting some of Asia’s most influential entrepreneurs, investors and their advisors to learn what is really going on in the world’s most exciting region.

Some of the confirmed host partners include: Innovation Works, a US$500 Million investment fund and the most prestigious incubator in China; Baidu, China’s s answer to Google; Innovation X, a global innovation platform backed by the CocaCola Company; and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), the Singaporean government agency responsible for setting the stage for Singapore to be the World’s First Smart Nation.

The team will ensure that delegates do not get worn out too easily, so they have included time for delegates to enjoy the local Asian culture, food and the local sights with their new Asia Recon friends. To wrap up the program, the tour will finish by visiting the Great Wall of China.

Each delegate for the inaugural Singapore China Program 2015 has been selected through a competitive application process. According to Mathew the program is seeking to:

Take the best people we can from Australia from the technology, innovation and entrepreneurship space.


What inspired Asia Recon? 


After returning home to Sydney in 2014, I gave some presentations about China’s tech start-up ecosystem at places like Fishburners and BlueChilli. I realised there was a strong sense of curiosity about Asia but there was a deep knowledge gap about it.

I figured the only way to help Australian tech people really understand what’s going on there, is to physically see it. So Matthew and I decided to create a tech tour to Asia to expose Aussies to the reality of Asia’s incredible tech and innovation scene and called it Asia Recon.



First mover advantage is often talked about in the past tense, but we don’t often refer to it in the present tense. Jason and I started Asia Recon to change that. We wanted to take a practical approach to Asia engagement in this space beyond the shiny board rooms of corporate Australia and the bureaucracy of Canberra. We have the luxury of being small and nimble, and so are making the most of this opportunity to create a bridge into Asia.


What do you hope that delegates will get from the Asia Recon tour? 

Jason and Matthew:

We hope that delegates will come away from the tour with inspiration to continue pursuing opportunities to do business with Asia. That might mean setting up operations in Asia, identifying partners, attracting FDI into Australian R&D projects and technologies for commercialisation, or facilitating collaboration opportunities between companies. We expect that our delegates will be able to develop a clear framework in which to take the next steps in pursuing opportunities in these markets.


What do you believe is the highlight of the tour?


I think the highlight of the tour will be meeting some very talented and inspiring entrepreneurs and investors in Asia, whom they can learn a lot from. Just experiencing the size, speed and scale of places like China will be eye-opening.


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Alice Slevison

Greater China Country Coordinator
Alice's fascination with the Middle Kingdom has led her to undertake long-term study in Hong Kong, Xiamen and Nanjing.

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