Logistics is a big part of fashion online retailer Zalora‘s business, which is why it’s so important to get it right. Unfortunately, logistics is still spotty in Southeast Asia — Singapore included — causing many e-commerce businesses have resorted to cash-on-collection as a means of delivering the goods.
While common in Philippines and Indonesia, Zalora has launched their own cash-on-collection trial in Singapore involving 19 Seven-Eleven convenience stores. This is the first time the business has tried something like this in any of its markets. Read more
The biggest news this week for Southeast Asia’s startup community would undoubtedly involve the USD 40M that luxury e-commerce company Reebonz raised from MediaCorp, Infocomm Investments, and a slew of other investors, as well as the fresh USD 100M round that Zalora, another fashion e-commerce outfit, has managed to cobble together.
Together, both developments hint at rising investment confidence in the region’s e-commerce’s prospects.
Reebonz, in particular, is a fast rising player that has expanded far beyond its humble Singapore beginnings. The luxury online store recently opened a flagship outlet in Sydney. It has launched localized sites in New Zealand, Australia, as well as South Korea, and is currently shipping to 22 markets in Asia, Europe, and North America.
For entrepreneurs, the ascendance of both companies has several possible implications: Read more
There are funding rounds, and then there are funding rounds. Zalora, a Rocket Internet fashion e-commerce venture, has today revealed that it has raised a massive USD 100M in venture capital from Summit Partners, Investment AB Kinnevik, Verlinvest, and Tengelmann Group.
Most of the investors are Rocket Internet regulars: Summit, Kinnevik, and Tengelmann have bankrolled Lazada before, while the latter has funded Zalora once. Verlinvest, a new — or previously low-key — participant, is a Belgian investment holding company.
The repeat investments portends well for Zalora’s prospects in Asia, a challenging market with relatively low basket sizes, tough infrastructural challenges, and market fragmention.
It shows that investors are confident that the business, despite enduring a loss of EUR 70M (USD 90M) in 2012, down-scaling in Taiwan, and a number of high-profile staff departures, will be able to weather the storm and emerge as the dominant fashion e-commerce player outside of China and India. Read more
The Buccaneer and the Power Mac G4 Cube. The resemblance isn’t coincidental.
There hasn’t been a pre-launch product from a Singapore startup that has garnered this much press attention for a long while. Simply put, people are agog about the USD 347 price point for an Apple-esque 3D printer that will be pre-assembled and calibrated right out of the box. In fact, some have been downright skeptical, believing the photos to be renders rather than real images.
But there’s no two ways about it: The Buccaneer – which is what the first product from Pirate3D is called — is going to arrive in homes in the United States and around the world. In fact, the company is prepping a Kickstarter campaign that will hopefully launch in the next few days — and they’re working with the crowdfunding platform to provide as much details as possible. I’ve even seen a prototype in action myself at the coworking space the Singapore-based team is working out of.
Of the myriad of 3D printers in the market, there has been quite a number in the sub-$1000 category: RepRap, Printrbot, Solidoodle, and Makibox, just to name a few. Read more
Few men can score a date with the sexiest woman in the Philippines, which made me a very lucky bloke indeed. A few months ago, I was on my way to Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore to interview Maria Ressa, an accomplished journalist, counter-terrorism expert, and co-founder of Rappler, an exciting, young online news organization from the Philippines.
Of course, I didn’t know about her hottest woman alive label then. But that did not make me any less nervous: Maria’s accomplishments far outsize her petite stature. A Princeton University graduate and Fulbright Fellow, she worked at CNN for almost two decades, serving as the bureau chief in Manila and then Jakarta. She then became the news and current affairs chief at ABS-CBN, Philippines’ largest television network.
She possesses a deep understanding of terrorist networks, having authored two books on the subject. Her latest work, From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism, narrates the gripping story of how she led the crisis team that resolved the kidnapping of her news crew who were en route to interview the leader of Abu Sayyaf, a militant Islamist group from Southern Philippines.
Now, she’s on to her next adventure: Starting a new media company that is reimagining journalism. Read more
Of all of United States’ startup exports, Warby Parker is one that hasn’t really been replicated in Asia. The startup, which sells quality eyewear at a ridiculously low price point, has been a toast of the New York scene by disrupting the eyewear industry and in the process raising USD 50.3M in capital.
Warby’s innovation doesn’t lie in new-fangled technology. Instead, it break the dominance of an industry cartel that has been driving prices artificially high. By fashioning its own supply chain and designing its own glasses, it cuts out the middle men and offers eye wear at a low USD 95 a pop.
Four Eyes in the Philippines is attempting do the same. The company takes many of its cues from Warby Parker, right down to the sparse, white, and minimalist design on the website. Read more
Six months of workshops, mentoring, and sponsored trips to Singapore, Israel, or Boston. For 20 Korean startups, these experiences will be the biggest draw of K-App Global Hub, a startup bootcamp organized by the Korean government.
The program is unique in its global outlook: Held in English, teams can pick one week stints in either Singapore or Israel, with the Boston trip having a separate application process, depending on which markets they’re interested in.
It is forward-looking in how it aims to foster cross-border collaboration for Korean startups, situating itself as part of the trend of increasing porousness in the larger Asia tech ecosystem where startups in disparate parts of the region are increasingly connected to each other via networking events, cross-border partnerships, and tech media. Read more
One of the key drivers of Singapore’s hospitality industry is the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) business. SGpad, an iPad rental service, is looking to ride on the growth in the MICE industry with Micepad, an app that enhances the conference experience for attendees.
With Micepad, an event organiser can easily customise and deploy a complete event engagement app by choosing the required modules and uploading content. One of the things I frequently do at events is to google further information about the speakers. Micepad eliminates the constraints of print and enables event organisers to provide more information to their attendees.
Another great feature of Micepad is the ability to distribute relevant documents to attendees. No longer will there be a need to remember that SlideShare link or hunt for a copy of the presentation on the Internet.
Micepad also doubles up as an audience engagement tool and comes with inbuilt discussion boards and live poll feedback features.
Kevin, one of the founders of Micepad, shared with me that the service has been adopted by leading financial institutions and software consultancies such as Standard Chartered Bank, SAP and Wipro to name a few (the other clients have their names withheld by NDAs). The team has implemented Micepad in Singapore and Hong Kong over the past few months and they plan to expand to other markets like Malaysia, Hong Kong and New York with the help of newly acquired channel partners over the next few months.
Having thrown away countless of paper collected at events, I can see the usefulness of an application like Micepad both to attendees and event organisers.
One of the key challenges of apps like Micepad is deciding whether they are meant to complement or substitute the traditional print materials used at events. If it is the former, then cost and functions will be important in adoption; if it is the latter, then availability for a wide range of devices is key (currently the full version of Micepad is available only for the iPad).
By Isaac Souweine, GM for Pollenizer Southeast Asia. A version of this post first appeared on the Pollenizer blog.
I’ve met with dozens of folks over the past months who are interested in the Singapore startup scene. The questions they asked were often similar, so I thought I would take a crack at writing up my standard responses. For the record, this post is not meant to replace a good coffee chat, just to make those chats even more productive and interesting.
Q: How can I learn more about the scene from the internet?
A: There are three main blogs that cover the Singapore scene:
- e27 – Strong coverage across SEA plus tidbits from across Asia Pac. Highest volume of articles.
- Tech In Asia – Broad Asian perspective with good drill down on SEA and some good analysis.
- SGE.io- Lowest volume but strong on analysis and research pieces.
Jon Russell of the Next Web also weighs in semi-regularly on the SEA scene, and there are a few entrepreneurs and investors who blog semi-regularly:
This list is not exhaustive i.e. I’ve probably forgotten some other folks who share regularly. For online discussions, the JFDI Open Frog list is a good place to start. Read more
When I asked SGE Scout Albert Mai to compile a directory of coworking spaces in Sydney (he’s seeking internship opportunities there), he launched into the task with aplomb. Instead of merely giving me what I asked for, he went above and beyond, doing up a map covering the whole of Australia.
That’s dedication and effort. So, without further delay, I present you a handy guide to coworking spaces in Australia — 43 of them (also check out our map of Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). To be clear, a coworking spaces should possess these characteristics:
- A shared work environment with residents that don’t belong to the same organization.
- Social gatherings, shared values and synergies.
- Building of a community through interactions and events. Read more