Flocations, ShopSpot get investment offers from SingTel Innov8, says fund’s new CEO
May 29, 2012 by Terence LEE
While ShopSpot has indicated that they will accept the offer, Flocations has not made a final decision as they are still in talks with other investors.
SGE was told of the news during an exclusive interview today with SingTel Innov8 CEO Edgar Hardless, who took over as the new head just under two months ago.
Singapore-based Flocations has built a web app that enables travelers to search for destinations by price, using a highly-visual interface. Users would then be redirected to partner sites to book their plane tickets and hotel rooms.
For now, they are monetizing using a hotel affiliate program with Agoda. They plan to monetize on flight ticket purchases soon, and even move towards travel insurance, flights, e-guides, flash deals and packages.
Towards the end of the Bootcamp in early May, they’ve garnered over 700 user accounts, sold more than S$5,500 (US$4,300) worth of hotel inventory, and obtained a 10 percent clickthrough rate to flights, which they claim matches the industry average. A quarter of their traffic belong to returning users.
Thailand startup ShopSpot has built a mobile app that aims to make peer-to-peer buying and selling as easy as tweeting. They’ve already received seed funding from a group of Thai investors, and their app has been downloaded about 10,000 times since their launch in April. The company will have a booth at e27′s Echelon 2012 in June, a key startup conference in Singapore.
Both startups were offered term sheets by Innov8 because of their simplicity, intuitiveness, and future potential.
“They’re offering different ways of doing things that are relevant today,” says Edgar.
Using himself as an example, he talked about how ShopSpot solves the painful process of selling items to other people on forums like HardwareZone.
“The whole experience could be improved,” he adds.
During the interview, he also touched on his tenure at Innov8, his thoughts about the Bootcamp, and the startup scene in Asia.
Although the JFDI-Innov8 Bootcamp was modeled after successful US programs like Techstars and Y Combinator, there’s no certainty whether it can be successfully replicated here for the first time, even after tweaks.
While no decision has been made on whether the Bootcamp will return, Edgar says improving the mentorship element, which the startups have found most valuable, is something they’d like to work on.
Overall, he is very impressed by the quality of talent coming from places like Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, even saying that they match up to what can be found in the United States.
“They started out [at the Bootcamp] very rough, but they’ve really turned around,” he says.
While funding is readily available in Asia, there’s still a lack of entrepreneurs-turned-mentors who can guide the next crop of startup founders.
Entrepreneurs in the region also need to work on their presentation skills. Compared to the West, startups here find it challenges to distill the essence of the problem and pitch their solution to investors in a snappy and concise manner.
On the difficulties that Innov8 faces, Edgar says that determining whether clones of successful Silicon Valley companies can work in the Asian context remains a challenge.
Another problem, but a good one, is the sheer number of potential deals that have landed on their laps. Since Innov8′s inception, they have considered about a thousand possible investments from around the world.
With Edgar at the helm, they are now seeking a new manager director to fill the gap that was left behind.
Innov8 will also continue its mission to catalyze the startup ecosystem in Singapore and by extension Asia. Something they will definitely continue doing is its open-door policy to all and sundry who want to pitch their startup ideas.
His team sees around 10 to 20 teams a week, ranging from seasoned entrepreneurs who want to set up in Singapore to greenhorns who don’t know the first thing about pitching — kind of like an extended episode of Angel’s Gate.
“It doesn’t matter who they are, we will provide frank feedback — in the nicest way possible — to anyone that wants to come in for a meeting.”
Consider that an invitation.
Photo of boy: Mark Fischer
ShopSpot will be having a booth at Echelon 2012, held from 11th to 12th June. Organized by tech blog e27 for the third year running, the event is a key startup launchpad in Asia with over 1,100 delegates in attendance and 50 startups exhibiting in the Marketplace. Check out SGE’s coverage of Echelon 2012.
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
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