The survival of the fittest — that has always been the credo of capitalist societies and even multiplayer online games, where good players rise to the top while bad ones get blasted into oblivion.
Now, a new, intriguing platform in Vietnam, Geeky.vn, is bringing a literal interpretation of this concept to hiring programming talent. Essentially, it’s a gamified platform for developers to solve puzzles and win prizes.
Free for developers, the site has unveiled its first puzzle this month as well as the top prize of VND 50M (USD 2.4k). While it will start off as a ranking platform, the team has publicized its long-term plan to be a tool for employers to seek out talented developers. Read more
From left: Tien Dung Le, Jason Lusk, and Thuy Nguyen. Photo: ClickSpace
Jason Lusk first came to Hanoi to work on a freelance project but ended up becoming a co-founder of ClickSpace, one of the first coworking spaces in Hanoi, Vietnam. While there, he spent time connecting with expat talents in Hanoi: entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, and the trailing spouses of diplomats and NGO leaders. All of them were seeking opportunities to connect and work together.
Unfortunately, Hanoi did not have much infrastructure for collaboration. That was why ClickSpace was born: to provide a comfortable, contemporary workspace where talented expats and Vietnamese can work, connect and collaborate.
We spoke to Jason via email to find out more about his story, ClickSpace and his thoughts on the startup scene in Hanoi. Read more
StartMeUp was born as a platform for the startup community in Vietnam to gather every month to share success stories, experiences, and networks.
Created by the team at Keewi, a Vietnamese startup working on an event ticketing platform, StartMeUp’s first event saw 120 participants and four startup pitches. Ten events were held in total.
While events are fine and well, the team now wants to scale up. Their latest project: a website for sharing motivational quotes. The idea is inspired by Brian Tracy — a motivational speaker and the author of the book “The Psychology of Selling: The Art of Closing Sales”, “Eat That Frog” and “Goals!”
The team hopes to encourage positive thinking by reading uplifting stories or quotes early in the morning, instead of the usual news headlines, television, or Facebook updates. The platform is open to all — anyone can submit an uplifting quote.
Interestingly, users can find out more about the person behind the quote by clicking on his or her name. The team hopes to add pictures to accompany the quotes next.
Vistaprint, the sixth largest public-listed printing company in the United States, has just gone small by launching a simple-to-use website builder called Vistamobi, which is targeted at micro business owners in developing countries in Southeast Asia.
It’s a novel product, especially because it comes from an unlikely source — a firm more well known in Europe and the US for printing namecards than mobile innovation.
But the powers that be at Vistaprint are embracing entrepreneurship from within. Vistamobi is created by a lean four-man team stationed in Singapore, headed by Maliha Quadir, digital director for global emerging markets. Revenues are not a concern for the team at this point; they are more intent on acquiring users, getting feedback, and iterating.
Vistamobi is unlike Wix, Yola, and Weebly in two important ways.
First, it is built from the ground up to be mobile friendly, an important feature in emerging markets since many people have mobile phones as their first and primary computing device.
An illustration of this can be seen on Vistamobi’s desktop and tablet interface. Whenever an update is made to their website, users will see a preview in a virtual mobile phone screen. In this view, they can pick from a variety of mobile phone makes that are popular in their countries.
Second, Vistamobi websites are optimized for low bandwidth, which again is crucial since Internet connection speeds in these countries leave much to be desired. As such, the websites that can be created are designed to load fast and take care of the basics.
The product is catered to micro business owners and SME bosses who don’t possess HTML knowledge and don’t how to use more advanced CMS systems like WordPress, let alone customize it to their needs. But it does cover the basics: Created websites are responsive, possess analytics, and are SEO-friendly. Some limited customizations are available, although custom URLs aren’t enabled yet.
Some interesting use cases have arisen which step beyond retail and e-commerce businesses. Since soft launching in Indonesia about a month ago, consumers and students have started using Vistamobi to create their own sites. Student boy bands are getting in on the act too, adding links to SoundClould on their websites.
It seems that people still do want their own .com despite the advent of social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Vistamobi has so far launched localized sites for India and Indonesia. While it is targeting emerging markets in South Asia, Maliha says that they are also looking at catering to business owners from developed economies, who may desire more bells and whistles.
Despite the availability of so many easy-to-use website builders out there, tech companies still believe there is room in the market for another product.
Infinite.ly from the Philippines, for example, believes it can ride on the wave of new Internet users that are joining the pile in the emerging economies. While it doesn’t have clear differentiation, its founder says that it is just at the beginning of its product roadmap, with vertical-specific features being part of the mix.
Another new website creator to watch out for is Burpple’s Pages — which enables restaurant owners to create their own websites in a snap. What’s special about Pages is that it leverages on Burpple’s mobile social network to promote the restaurant’s food.
It also has F&B specific features like interactive menus as well as online reservation, takeaway, and delivery options.
These companies are responsible for just a slice of the action in the online presence-building space. With the next Billion users slated to come from Asia, it’s no wonder many firms, from startups to MNCs, are hoping to win over business owners in this part of the world.
mLab is the first Technology Incubator in Vietnam which started operating in 2012. They have organized and hosted many competitions nationally including: Nokia Asha Challenge, BlackBerry Jam Hackathon and the SEA-wide m2Work Hackathon. This time, mLab has started another competition — Mobile Innovation Challenge. Read more
William Vu Huynh, co-founder and CEO of Vietnamese dating site Noi.vn, has been preoccupied with one question ever since he started his venture in 2008 with Phung Tien Cong: How do you get shy Vietnamese men and women to connect online?
Being able to tackle this problem area was the key to Noi.vn’s success. While William says that many have tried and failed, Noi.vn has managed to build itself into one of the country’s largest (if not the largest) online social dating networks.
While he has declined to reveal financial figures, he says that Noi.vn has some 750,000 registered users, out of which there are 400,000 monthly actives (currently growing at 2 percent month-on-month). From all of them, over 4,000 couplings and over 500 weddings have resulted.
From this strong base — aided by funding from YAN Group and IDG Ventures in mid-2010 — Noi.vn is moving to consolidate its position by catering to different niche markets and entering even more platforms. Read more
FoodPanda, a Rocket Internet online food delivery company, has launched a new mobile app for iOS and Android.
The app allows users to filter restaurants by location and order food using their mobile phones. They can also see details like minimum order required, delivery fee, and delivery time.
It is available for download in 14 countries: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Senegal and Russia. Read more
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
Vietnam Startup Retrospective, an event on 26th Jan which celebrated the achievements of the startup community, picked Appota as the startup of the year. It was also an opportunity to reflect on upcoming trends in 2013.
The main event organizer was Topica Founder Institute and partners include Keewi, Viet Youth Entrepreneurs, Startup Weekend, and Barcamp Saigon. 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