JFDI.Asia, Singapore’s most prominent startup accelerator, has announced the eight startups that will join its first bootcamp, which will start on 21 February. The teams will receive a SGD 25K (USD 20K) investment right away.
Below are the eight teams: Read more
Lazada, Rocket Internet’s Amazon clone which is active in Southeast Asia, announced yesterday that it has received an investment from German retail group Tengelmann, a regular Rocket Internet investor. According to TechCrunch, the funding amount is close to USD 20M.
The e-commerce company has been raising money at a furious clip. In September last year, it received an estimated USD 50M to USD 100M from investment bank JP Morgan. This was followed by USD 40M from Swedish investment firm Kinnevik and another USD 26M from Summit Partners. Read more
Rocket Internet is a Berlin headquartered company that is well-known for cloning successful online startups (usually from the US), replicating them elsewhere, and turning them into million-dollar businesses. It was founded in 2007 by the Samwer brothers — Alexander, Marc, and Oliver, who have together created and sold a number of successful Internet businesses before starting Rocket Internet. Most of their businesses are e-commerce related.
The company tends to hire MBA-trained executives and management consultants to become ‘founder’ and ‘managing director’ of its businesses. However, unlike startup founders, they do not hold as much equity or have as much decision-making power to shape the direction of their companies. They are primarily executors who could be fired for underperforming.
Rocket Internet has polarized observers in the startup and technology community for its practices. Critics pour scorn on the company for blatant copying, mischaracterizing its ventures as startups, an over-aggressive and results-oriented corporate culture, and rapid turnover rates. At the same time, it is widely admired for its rapid execution ability. Read more
Indoor positioning is coming to Asia really soon. The technology has received a big push towards commercial viability after today’s announcement of a partnership between Singapore startups Sprooki and YFind that will see closer integration between the two.
The companies complement one another well. Sprooki offers a white-label location-based marketing platform for retailers, while YFind is scaling up its indoor positioning system that promises accurate tracking of a smartphone user’s location to within 3 meters.
Sprooki will begin integrating YFind into its platform, and offer it as a package to customers in Asia. YFind, on its part, will offer Sprooki to merchants outside of the region, particularly in the US. Read more
For a social network about fashion, Clozette isn’t exactly a looker, especially when compared to the sprightlier and hipper #OOTDX, an upstart that appears to be drawing the Instagrammer crowd.
But while my first impression may be less than positive, Clozette actually turns out to be more interesting than it lets on.
It certainly has enough cache to seal a partnership with SingTel’s lifestyle portal inSing.com, an arrangement that has given Clozette front page placement — on the portal’s dropdown menu. Clicking on that link will bring you to insing.clozette.com, an e-commerce site that sells goods from Clozette’s partners.
While I’m not sure how many percent of inSing’s purported 2 million monthly active users will actually land on Clozette, it’s a positive start. The partnership between these Singapore companies appears to be the right one too: Clozette, after all, has ambitions to be a one-stop shop for women’s fashion and beauty needs.
Sure, you might have heard it all before. It would seem that every online fashion and beauty retailer, your Zaloras, Luxolas, and Asoses, wants to be that first-stop for fashionable women.
But here’s the difference between Clozette and the rest: It isn’t a traditional e-commerce site at all. In fact, it fulfills an entirely different role in the online fashion ecosystem, that of discovery. Read more
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
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.
Piktochart, a Malaysia-based startup with an online infographic creation tool, has announced today at the Open Web Asia 2012 conference in Hainan, China that it has earned USD200k in revenue from March 2012 to now.
According to co-founder and CEO Goh Ai Ching, almost all of Piktochart’s revenue comes from its premium accounts. The startup has been cash flow positive since June this year.
Since bursting onto the tech scene in July 2011 through Chinaccelerator, where they received USD30k in equity seed funding and mentorship, the company has quickly ticked off a list of accomplishments. Read more
After raising USD40M from Kinnevik and tens of millions from JP Morgan, Lazada has done it again, announcing yesterday a USD26M investment from Summit Partners. The funds will be used for developing growth initiatives and expanding its product offering.
Lazada, which is Rocket Internet’s version of Amazon, claims to be the largest online department store in Southeast Asia. It operates in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We seek to invest in companies that build long-term value, and Lazada has shown dynamic growth in a short period of time,” said Scott Collins, a managing director and head of Summit Partners London.
On 21 November, Lazada launched a new fashion marketplace platform in Malaysia that caters to offline retailers that want online distribution and marketing services but desire control over logistics and operations. It plans to rollout this platform in all its markets and expand the number of retailers on it. Read more
PhewTick, the memorably-named mobile app that pays you to meet strangers, has become all the rage in Asia. Since its launch in June 2012, it has already amassed a remarkable 500,000 users from 50 countries.
Skeptics might say that the app sounds too good to be true. Users earn cash by scanning each other’s QR codes using the PhewTick app on iPhone or Android. They then play a cute mini-game which involves controlling a cat as it tries to capture fish containing a different amounts of points. Every 1,000 points earns the user about SGD1.53, which they can cash out via PayPal after they hit a SGD30 (USD23.50) threshold.
The app is designed to encourage serendipitous encounters between strangers and also people that already know one another. It’s possible for me to ‘phewtick’ with my colleagues again and again — all that’s stopping me from doing it every second is a 12-hour time lapse that is required between scans of the same person. Read more