Gwendolyn Regina T - Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Gwen is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SGE. Previously, she was a partner of early stage technology investment firm, Thymos Capital and she has had two exits, one of which is iHipo. She is also an investor in Padlet, a Y-Combinator startup.
Gwen also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute, Steering Commmittee for the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation Awards 2013, and Board of Advisors for Social Media Week 2013.
A frequent public speaker, mentor and judge at various startup bootcamps, events and competitions, Gwen loves meeting founders, developers, designers and scientists across all ages. An alumnus of the National University of Singapore and its University Scholars Programme, Gwen also spent some time in Silicon Valley and is a graduate of the NUS-Stanford University overseas college programme.
She is also a mentor at Polish tech startup incubator Gamma Rebels, the Singapore curator for US-headquartered StartupDigest and the Singapore Ambassador for the Sandbox Network - the leading global network of innovators under 30. Gwen has also been a Worldwide Judge for Imagine Cup - the premier student technology competition helmed by Microsoft. She has also spoken in Hong Kong at one of its largest youth conferences, MaD Asia, and was recently in Austria to help envision the future of the country's economy in 2032 on invitation from an Austrian governmental organization.
Gwen speaks 3.25 languages, loves physics, travelling, dance and adventure sports. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The writer's posts
Self-billed “Asia’s biggest online fashion store”, Zalora had a net negative income of almost EUR 70M (USD 91M) in 2012. In an apparently confidential Income Statement 2012-2017 for investors, we now know that Zalora Southeast Asia made EUR 48M (USD 62.5M) in revenues (after returns and cancellations) in 2012 (thus we are enlightened on their “annualized double-digit million USD revenues” that is in their “About ZALORA” in press releases pretty much everywhere, SGE’s previous estimate of USD 75M wasn’t too off), projects profitability from somewhere in 2015, and aims to reach total revenues of EUR 1 billion (USD 1.3B) sometime in 2016.
These numbers are based on 8 (current) markets (no word of potential future markets), mostly desktop shopping for the last year since Zalora launched in early 2012, with mobile commerce to increase with launches of native mobile apps (iOS last week, Android later in the future) and the rising trend of mobile usage in Asia (see below).
German magazine Manager Magazin published the document online and parts of the Zalora Income Statement for 2012-2017 can be seen here: Read more
For regular readers of SGE, this next person I want to highlight in our Faces of SGE series should be a very familiar face.
It has been quite a journey for SGE the last two years: Sometime in the middle, I went full-time and we brought on fresh grad, Terence Lee as an Assistant Editor, full-time as well. Since then, Terence’s face has been like the Microsoft virtual paperclip man, popping up everywhere – on Google searches and all – just without that annoyance factor.
I’ve been so privileged to have had him come to us via a referral from a friend, Shihan – who happens to be Terence’s co-founder in New Nation (a reader of theirs called the site “The Onion of Singapore”). And I’ve been even more privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him over the last 1.5 years.
And during this journey, we have rebranded to SGE.io, launched our new research arm, SGE Insights and expanded our team.
Terence has being an awesome writer and assistant editor over the last 1.5 years, but that is changing now.
I am very happy to announce that Terence is now officially now stepping up to be Editor at SGE.
He will continue to help steer SGE forward in our plans and manage our growing editorial team. I look forward to the exciting times ahead, but first, I present to you Terence Lee, Editor, SGE: Read more
One of Singapore’s local tech startup heroes, Darius Cheung launched his second startup, Billpin last year. BillPin lies in the social money management space and enables friends to track their shared expenses to figure out who owes whom how much, so that there are less embarrassing moments of badgering friends for monies owed.
The young startup just announced the launch of their Android app, to extend the OS universe in which they play in. Their iOS version was launched back in August 2012. In addition, the less-than-a-year-old startup just raised a seed round of 40K USD with Singapore’s NUS Enterprise and government under the iJAM investment-grant scheme.
We’ve been hoping for an in-app payment solution from the team, but looks like the feature will still be in the making for a while longer.
BillPin is a team of 5 that includes four others that have also had experiences with startups: Saurabh Mandar of tenCube, now McAfee (together with Darius); Aileen Sim of FirstMeta (bank for virtual economies); Ruiwen Chua of Remember (that was one of the 11 startups under startup incubator, JFDI.asia); and Anuj Bheda of Chalkboard.
Sometime in the middle of last year, a certain Stephanie Sutanto emailed the early stage fund that I used to run, asking for internship positions. I told her that we were no longer looking for people but SGE was. I also told her that I was scooting off the next day and would be completely uncontactable for two weeks on a meditation course so we would have to chat immediately. We did, and therein lies the story of how Steph joined us.
Now Steph is back in Los Angeles in the USA, completing her college studies but she continues to help us here at SGE.
It has been awesome having her and I thought you should know more about this dynamic young lady. And, for our readers in LA, do reach out to Steph to find out more about SGE and Asia’s tech scene! Read more
At SGE, we always strive to unearth the most promising startups from around Asia and place it in front of you, our dear reader. At the same time, there is also so much innovation happening around the world we track on a daily basis and for key ones that we think you should know, we share them on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
However, we are still hungry to serve our audience better – to help you keep your finger on the pulse of global innovation.
So we have taken a step further by partnering with Polish venture capital firm, HardGamma and its accelerator program, GammaRebels, to have them curate interesting companies that they come across and for SGE to feature them. For a start, SGE will have a section dedicated to featuring their portfolio companies.
I have been volunteering my time by mentoring at GammaRebels since their pioneer batch of startups more than a year ago and recently did another round of Skype calls with the second batch of startups. And I continue to be impressed by what the Google for Entrepreneurs-partnered accelerator have done for the Polish startup scene, especially after a recent trip to visit the new HardGamma and GammaRebels office and speaking at their launch.
So look forward to hearing about some outside-Asia innovation and startups from time to time!
We love working with dynamic, talented and passionate folks and one of our latest additions to our team, Albert is just like that.
SGE welcomes Albert Mai on board our team, focused on scouting the Vietnam startup scene.
I first met Albert in Singapore many months ago and he is now back in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, running a startup and helping the local community grow through events. To help you to get to know Albert better, we have a mini Q&A with him here. Read more
Inspired by TechCrunch’s list of the best annual tech startup events in Europe for 2013, we attempt to do the same for Asia here.
However, we are not just focusing on events that have been happening annually. The technology startup event and conference scene in Asia is active, but still sees less activity when we compare ours to the scenes in North America and Europe. We thus try to note all the interesting events that are of mid-size and above. We are disregarding small group monthly meetups for now (there would be too many to list).
Big thanks to Steph for helping me with this list and Albert for contributing as well.
There are still many events we know will happen, but they just have no dates fixed yet. So bookmark this list as we continue to update it with new info.
We can make this list comprehensive with your help! If you see any major event missing, please drop us a note. The startup community will be grateful to you for your help, as will we.
Here we go:
Startup Weekend, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Jan 10-12
Barcamp Yangon, Yangon, Myanmar, Jan 19-20
TEDX SapporoSalon, Sapporo, Japan, Jan 19
TEDX DLSU, Manila, Philippines, Jan 25
Barcamp Mandalay, Mandalay, Myanmar, Jan 26
MaD Asia, Hong Kong, Jan 25-27
Lean UX Week, Singapore, Jan 25-27
Startup Design Week, Singapore, Jan 25-27
Design & Thinking, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, Jan 26
TEDX Tokyoyz, Tokyo, Japan, Feb 2
The Entrepreneurship Summit 2013, Mumbai, India, Feb 2-3
Startup Weekend, Tokyo, Japan, Feb 8
TEDX Jaipur, Jaipur, India, Feb 10
Meta Refresh, Bangalore, India, Feb 22-23
BarCamp Angkor 2013, Angkor, Cambodia, Feb 23-24
BarCamp Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Feb 23-24
FailCon India, Bangalore, India, Feb 23
TEDX Yankin, Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 23
The Digital Commerce Summit 2013, Makati City, Philippines, Feb 27-28
beLAUNCH Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, Feb 27
TEDX Singapore, Singapore, Feb 28
Startup Weekend, Ahmedabad, India, Mar 1-3
Founder Institute Hanoi, Ha Noi city, Vietnam, Mar
Startup Weekend, Perth, Australia, Mar 8-10
WebSparks 2013, Bangalore, India, Mar 9
TechCamp Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Mar 13-14
HelpLearn.Asia, Singapore, Mar 13-14
DEMO India, Bangalore, India, Mar 20-21
Startup Weekend, Mumbai, India, Mar 22-24
Singapore Lean Startup Machine, Singapore
ICT Business Summit 2013, Singapore, Mar 28
Startup Asia Singapore, Singapore, April 4-5
beLAUNCH, Seoul, South Korea, May 1-2
TEDx Sydney, Sydney, Australia, May 4
Global Mobile Internet Conference BEIJING 2013, Beijing, China, May 7-8
Failcon Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, May
CHINICT, Beijing, China, May 20-21
BarCamp Battambang 2013, Battambang, Cambodia, May 25-26
AngelHack Singapore, Singapore Jun 1-2
Crowdsourcing Week, Singapore, Jun 3-7
Echelon, Singapore, Jun 4-5
Barcamp Saigon 2013, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, Jul 5-6
Viet Youth Entrepreneur Bootcamp, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, Jul
The Fifth Elephant Conference, Bangalore, India, Jul 27-28
Cartonama Conference 2013, Bangalore, India, Aug 24
Ideas.inc 2013 Demo Day, Singapore, Aug 30
TechSparks, India, Sep 14
JSFoo, Bangalore, India, Sep 19-21
Techventure 2013, Singapore, Oct
FailCon Singapore, Oct
Sparxup, Indonesia, Oct
Hack2Hatch, Philippines, Oct
#TechStartupJobs Fair Singapore 2013, Singapore, Oct 28
Startup Weekend, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, Nov
MobiSparks 2013, India, Nov 17
Droidcon India 2013, Bangalore, India, Nov 28-30
Vietnam Startup Conference, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, Dec
Image: Gwen moderating at FailCon Singapore 2012. Credit: Terence Lee
The Gregorian year of 2012 started with an ominous ring to it. But 2012 waltzed along anyway, and so did December 21. And here we are, at the cusp of a global new year.
Before you young folks party the night away, we thought it good to school you in the happenings of the Asian tech startup scene over the last 12 months. Or, if you’re reading this in 2013, welcome to the past. Read more
Having just passed its 1000th day of existence just a couple of weeks ago with the release of the support of languages like Vietnamese, South Korean mobile messaging app KakaoTalk, gets even more serious about Southeast Asia this time. KakaoTalk has officially announced its partnership with Indonesia’s biggest telco, Telkomsel, to enable carrier billing for its app.
With carrier billing enabled, Telkomsel customers with KakaoTalk can purchase digital items (stickers, emoticons, and themes) with their Pulsa pre-paid credits.
On the social media front, KaKaoTalk has also localized for the market with Indonesia-specific Facebook page and Twitter account. The app is available across the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry platforms and now sees more than 70 million registered users, with 27 million daily uniques. Check out a visual history of their 1000 days, released on 11 December: Read more
The early stage funding gap is a common problem across Southeast Asia and various methods have been applied by the stewards of the local economies and public monies in an attempt to plug this gap. In Singapore and Malaysia, we’ve had both governments dish out generous grants to startups, sometimes on its own, sometimes in partnership with private investors who are given a lot of leverage.
(Read this overview of angel investing in Singapore by the Chairman of the Business Angel Network Southeast Asia (BANSEA) and this map of startup money in the country.)
We’ve also seen tax breaks given to angel investors in Singapore and to come in Malaysia.
Another way to shore up early stage investment is to facilitate the flow of information: dealflow, on-the-ground market information and due diligence-level of information. How this has been done is to create formal and semi-formal networks of angel investors just like the Business Angel Network Southeast Asia (BANSEA) – which was formed 11 years ago and has informal ties with many other angel groups around the region and globally.
This time, Malaysia will see its own angel network as Cradle, an agency under the Ministry of Finance that manages the RM 100 million (USD 32.7 million) Cradle Investment Programme officially launches the Malaysian Business Angel Network (MBAN).
According to DigitalNewsAsia,
“MBAN is an umbrella body that would function like a trade organization, driving regional and international linkages between angel investors. It would formalize and coalesce angel investment in Malaysia – currently informal and somewhat unstandardized.”
The report continues with a quote from Nazrin Hassan, CEO of Cradle,
“MBAN would lead the voice of private sector angels for Malaysia and become their platform for engagement and action, both for the domestic and international community and to help develop the angel capital market within the country.”
MBAN, is however, not the first angel-focused group in Malaysia. Cradle has previously also helped in the creation of the Virtuous Investment Circle (ViC). (Find out how ViC sees itself as fitting into the Malaysian scene amidst government funding bodies like Cradle and MDeC.)
What is different is that MBAN will offer formal accreditation of angel investors which will then allow them to make use of the aforementioned upcoming tax break scheme. Unsurprisingly, to attain accreditation as an angel investor, the individual has to have a certain lower limit of net worth but also with relevant experience so that investees can look to them not just for funding but for strategic advice and help too.