5 Far East Startup Hubs to Monitor in 2015
16 APRIL 2015
SummaryThe startup scene in parts of Asia is still in its infancy. The area has a seen a big increase in tech innovation and entrepreneurship. But the big players like Singapore and Hong Kong remain in the lead. However, this may not always be the case; thanks to low barriers to entry, excellent investment opportunities and high potential to attract international growth, neighbouring emerging markets may one day be the next Asian economic hub. Here's a collection of the five biggest venture hubs in the emerging economies of the Asia Pacific.
Funding and support: Seattle and Boston-based Unitus Seed Fund is a new $20 million seed-stage investment fund that finances startups innovating for the masses in India, providing a maximum initial investment size of $100,000.
Success story: Ola, Uber's biggest opponent in India, provides its cab service through a web browser or mobile app that supports both cash and cashless payment options via Ola money. It currently serves over 100 cities, ten times as many as last year.
Trump card: Having scooped a whopping US$600 million of investment through several rounds of funding, and having freshly acquired TaxiForSure just last month, it’s no wonder that Ola enjoys a market share of almost 70%!
Funding and support: Project Hub Yangon delivers innovative incubation and training programs to help entrepreneurs launch successful businesses. Particularly impressive is their Project W initiative: a 6-month program that empowers women to refine their ideas, design business models and launch new ventures. PHY recently granted $6,000 raised from corporate sponsors to two promising businesses.
Success Story: IdeaBox is a community of Myanmar entrepreneurs who are fostering the next generation of internet companies by incubating new startups and accelerating existing companies. IdeaBox gives entrepreneurs a market advantage by providing access to capital, distribution, mentorship and global networking opportunities.
Trump Card: IdeaBox is powered by leading telecom company Ooredoo, whose presence in many parts of the region makes for a formidable incubator duo.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Funding and support: In recent times there has been a growing number of startup funding opportunities in Sri Lanka. Colombo-based startup incubator Spiralation is best thought of as a business assault course with a grand prize at the end. After a mentoring program with several milestones to hit and tight deadlines to meet, you could find yourself rewarded with up to a million rupees – not a lot by Silicon Valley standards, but more than enough to kick-start some stellar content and a strong (albeit brief) social media buzz.
Success story: Online career portal Everjobs is revolutionising the job search process in Sri Lanka by providing thousands of career opportunities in the APAC region. Whether you’re launching your career, looking to climb the ladder, or changing direction, its user-friendly platform connects professionals with top employers.
Trump card: Backed by Rocket Internet, Everjobs benefits from the broad network of the Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG). The group’s network consists of 13 e-commerce and online marketplace companies, operating across 15 countries. Since it was founded in 2014, APACIG has become the leading online platform in Asia, building top Internet companies in the region.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Funding and support: Cradle's CIP Catalyst program offers conditional grants of up to a maximum of RM150,000 to teams of innovative individuals with innovative, technology-based ideas in the ICT, non-ICT and high growth technology industries.
Success story: Tinder-like fashion app Shoppr is an online store aggregator app that provides users with item recommendations based on their Facebook profile details and what they have have “liked” or “disliked” on the app.
Trump card: Riding the wave of Malaysia’s hyper-engagement on social media, Shoppr has recently secured US$400,000 in seed funding from East Ventures, 500 Startups, and an angel investor, reaping the rewards of East Ventures’ first foray into Malaysia.
Funding and support: DeNA (pronounced "D-N-A") develops and operates a broad range of mobile and online services including games, e-commerce and entertainment content distribution. DeNA has been investing amounts of over a million dollars to promising startups in Indonesia.
Success story: The online property platform Lamudi has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2012. Its comprehensive database now features over 200,000 live listings in Indonesia alone, while an influx of foreign investors primarily interested in the island’s luxury sector makes Lamudi set to become the leading property platform in emerging markets.
Trump card: Lamudi recently received US$18 million in fresh investment to further drive its operations in Asia and Latin America, securing its place at the forefront of cutting-edge real estate innovation in emerging markets.
Everjobs is an online job portal currently operating in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Launched in March 2015 and led by the co-founder Ronald Schuurs, Everjobs aims to become the leading career portal for fast growing economies by finding the right opportunities for employers and professionals alike. The company is backed by Rocket Internet, as well as the Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG) and the Africa Internet Group (AIG).