Other highlights from BizSpark scholars: Tapit, Mobipoints, and more
March 1, 2012 by Terence LEE
Ten startups pitched this morning at the Alpha Pitch for DEMO Asia scholars, sponsored by Microsoft. I’ve written about TranscribeMe, which could disrupt the transcription industry. But there are also other notable startups that presented, both good and bad.
Tapit Media, Australia
Tapit is an Australian company that is a pioneer in NFC technology in Australia and Asia. It provides NFC-based solutions for mobile commerce, coupon code distribution, ticketing, social community building, competitions, survey and brand reviews, and content delivery via NFC in Australia and Asia.
It’s off to a strong start, securing a list of lucrative deals to enable NFC networks. For example, it has a partnership with Clear Channel Singapore, an outdoor advertising company, to deliver interactive outdoor campaigns for brand like Coca-Cola and Fanta.
This company betting its future entirely on NFC, and that’s a high-risk maneuver. Although it’s a first mover in a high-barrier industry, the technology hasn’t matured. Adoption rates for NFC aren’t high, as many smartphones do not have the technology embedded.
Alternatives to NFC are also being considered: US-based Square is developing wireless payment technology, while another startup is using ultrasound to do the same. Transferjet is also another interesting alternative to NFC. PayPal, too, is waging war against NFC with its own technology.
So the verdict is still out on the technology. While many big tech players are jumping in, lots of stars are still required to align.
For Tapit, there is a chance that they might go down in flames with NFC, but the risk is slim. But if NFC does take off, TapIt will rise with it — big risk, big reward. And I guess that’s the spirit of entrepreneurship.
HobbyMash is a web and mobile app to connect people with shared interest. It works very simply: Just type in your interest (say ‘basketball’), and a list of random people with the same interest will pop up.
But at the moment, I’m not convinced by their product.
It doesn’t quite add value to what’s already out there. If I’m interested to find people with the same interests as me, I can simply join Twitter, check out Adele’s page, and find out who are the people that like the singer. If I’m interested in photography, I can join Google+, which has become a great platform for photographers to connect with one another.
At the moment, the value proposition is weak, so I’m looking forward to see how the app will continue to develop.
Mobipoints is a mobile app that tracks loyalty points from multiple merchants. Developed by Korean software GIO Software, it is targeting the Korean, Chinese, and Japanese market. Users can use the app to scan QR codes on receipts and collect loyalty points on the app.
This beats having multiple loyalty cards in your wallet. Stores, in turn, can collect information about their customers and they can use the data in their marketing activities.
So it looks like MobiPoint is a little late. However, given how large their target markets are, they still have a shot at success. According to them, there are some 600,000 restaurants and cafes, 100,000 hair salons, and 100,000 other retail stores in Korea alone. The Chinese and Japanese markets are even larger.
That’s a huge opportunity for Mobipoints. It becomes a game of capturing market share in Asia becomes their competitors do. May the fastest startup win.
Coworkify is a Facebook app providing peer-to-peer job marketplace for coworking spaces. It helps users sell and buy small tasks directly from each other. It’s also a CRM for people to reserve space online and pay via credit card. Coworkify is a Startup Weekend Kyoto 2011 winner.
The idea of connecting co-working spaces around the world — estimated at over a thousand of them — sounds novel. But it sounds like a rather small market, and not all co-working spaces will buy the idea.
Also, I wonder if co-working space occupants really need a solution that connects them with talent from other co-working spaces. While unique, this focus may be a weakness rather than a strength. There are plenty of job marketplaces and online classifieds already. Websites like Elance and Freelancer offer companies access to thousands of talents worldwide, while Coworkify only connects with people from other co-working spaces.
The focus should be on getting quality talent.
Their idea of creating an Open Table for coworking spaces is unique and useful, and much needed. But again, they should look to expand their reach towards the shared offices and serviced offices industry.
Overall, I do think the startup shows promise, but I hope it has bigger ambitions than being just a platform for co-working spaces. The real money is elsewhere.
The other startups
Agate Studio, Indonesia: It’s a prolific Indonesian game developer company that has created dozens of games on all platforms. According to DailySocial, one of their games, Sexy Witch, has been downloaded over 100,000 times on the Nokia Store, for both free and paid versions. This time, they pitched an online Karaoke web game that rates you by how well you sing.
StyleRocks, Australia : The company has developed an online store that sells customized jewelry. Launched in November 2011, it has gotten warm reception from the Australian press. The idea has been done to death though, and it’s unclear how it’s different from similar sites. The amount of customizations I can make seems lacking as well.
Rofarez Solutions, Malaysia: They’re creating a business platform on the cloud that allows users to conduct employee , leave management, and claims management. I’m not exactly sure why the humble spreadsheet isn’t sufficient though.
Docubuzz, Singapore: Their product is Taccto, a tablet and web app for team collaboration. Users can share digital media with one another, collaborate, view presentations, as well as record and index meetings. I don’t see it being used en masse though, which is critical if they’re pursuing the freemium model. Not many meetings require this sort of advanced toolset. Perhaps it needs to rethink its business model, charge a higher premium, and market it towards specific power users.
Appota.com, Vietnam: They’re building a mobile supermarket for downloading applications, films, e-books, and games, targeted at the developing market. It sounds promising, especially since it offers payment methods like SMS, prepaid mobile cards, and WAP charging, which are popular in emerging markets. I’m not user how crowded this space is, but with a growing user base that’s getting more connected, Appota.com could be in position to do well.
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE