A compilation of important news from the startup world:
1. Indonesia’s on-demand startups still ‘hot items’: Fenox Ventures
With Go-Jek attracting $550 million in funding last week, this has further enforced the notion that Indonesian startups are fertile ground, thanks to its growing population of young internet users, leading many market watchers to predict several existing startups that are catering to the country’s on-demand economy could also be on their way to becoming unicorns. For investors, the on-demand sector is quite enticing, especially in a country whose 250 million population is on a path of becoming increasingly urbanized, connected, and technology savvy. Silicon Valley’s Fenox Venture Capital one of the most active in the region, is of the view that there that Indonesia’s on-demand services sector offers much room for expansion. The venture firm has been investing and mentoring some of the on-demand platforms such as Belazee and AhliJasa. “Go-Jek is the king of on-demand startups now. But I see there are some others that are very promising as well,” Fenox Venture Capital’s business development manager Nazier Ariffin told DEALSTREETASIA. He said the firm was set to lead a series C investment in an existing on-demand portfolio in the near future. However, he declined to reveal the value and identity of the startup. “It maybe concluded next month,” he said.
2. Eddie Thai wants to put Vietnam on the startup map
As a young Vietnamese-American, Eddie Thai dreamed of rediscovering his ancestral roots. Now a partner with the Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups, the Harvard-educated businessman is coaching a new generation of Vietnamese entrepreneurs In an upscale Ho Chi Minh City café, Eddie Thai is describing Vietnam’s tech startup scene. Wearing a t-shirt and jeans, and with a distinctly youthful face, Thai’s relaxed appearance belies a methodical and calculated approach to life. He gives off the impression of someone who, as a teenager, spent his weekends playing video games with friends, but periodically snuck off to check his stocks.Now aged 31, the Vietnamese-American entrepreneur was included on the 2015 Forbes Vietnam 30 Under 30 list and in January was selected as one of 50 “Global Shapers” to attend the World Economic Forum’s flagship conference in Davos, Switzerland.
3. Disrupt Asia 2016 Part Three: Voltage 230
Voltage 230 was a Shark Tank style investor pitching platform powered by us at ReadMe, along with Hutch and LOLC. Yes, we at ReadMe hosted an event similar to Shark Tank. We made sure to make it a brutal challenge for the brave startups that took part.To do so, we invited a few investors that represented a mix of personalities and came from varying industries. These investors were: Thirukumar Nadarasa – CEO of Hutch Sri Lanka, Ruwindhu Pieris – Vice President of SLASSCOM, Kamantha Amarasekara from LOLC, Conrad Dias – Group CIO of LOLC, Ishara Nanayakkara – Director of LOLC and Mangala Karunaratne – Cofounder & CEO of Calcey. It’s important to emphasize that they were here as investors and not as judges.
4. Indonesia, SE Asia’s digital powerhouse
An exciting thing happened in Indonesia in May — we crossed 100 million internet users. That is four times the number of people in Australia, making Indonesia the fifth-largest internet population in the world.A joint Google-Temasek report recently predicted that, at this rate, Indonesia will have 215 million internet users by 2020, making it the fourth-largest globally.Every day thousands of people across the archipelago are coming online for the first time. And since their introduction to the internet is through a smartphone, they are not necessarily thinking about the internet in the same way as people in the US or Japan.They are demanding and creating a new internet that works best with their own specific needs. India and Indonesia are projected to be only two countries over the next five years that will expand their share of the world’s online population. They are demanding and creating a new internet that works best with their own specific needs.
5. Myanmar: Seedstars World holds startup pitching session for tech startups
A global seed-stage tech start-up competition – the Switzerland-based Seedstars World, is holding a pitching competition in Yangon. After the initial session eight tech start-ups will be chosen for a training programme at the Strategy First Institute and they will then present a final pitch on August 13. The final winner will be flown to Switzerland, where it will compete with other regional winners for a $1 million prize at the Seedstars Summit. A few selected start ups also have the opportunity to get into Seedstars’ growth program, a three month online acceleration programme where start-ups receive expert mentoring and a small grant in return of an equity share. “The benefit of hosting the program online is that we really can deliver world-class mentoring across key vertical and horizontal sectors, without the limitation of location,” Nick Feneck, Asian associate for Seedstars World told DEALSTREETASIA.
6. Nomura-Keio venture fund to raise 50 percent more for startups in Japan
Keio University and Nomura Holdings Inc. increased the fundraising goal for their venture-capital partnership by 50 percent to 15 billion yen ($147 million) after demand from Japanese financial firms during the first phase of financing exceeded expectations. Keio Innovation Initiative Inc., founded by Japan’s oldest university and biggest brokerage, closed the first round last month with almost 5 billion yen, about 50 percent more than it anticipated, Chief Executive Officer Kotaro Yamagishi said in an interview. The fund operator aims to raise another 10 billion yen for the second and third phases over 10 years, he added. The plan reflects growing investor interest in high-technology ventures in Japan in areas such as robotics, as well as increasing profitability of startups emerging from academia. The first tie-up of its kind between a Japanese university and global investment bank comes as the government seeks to promote more new businesses and investors facing shrinking interest rates contemplate taking more risks in search of returns.
7. Israeli High-tech Exits Reap Billions – for Investors, Not the State
In the first half of 2016, 45 Israeli startups were sold for a total of $3.3 billion, based on data from the IVC research firm and the Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal law firm. This amount is 41% of the total for all of 2015. So how much of this money did the government collect in taxes? It seems that the total was actually quite small.In the background is a change in the law, now being debated as part of the Economic Arrangements Law for 2017. The changes would bring in more tax revenue from industry. The proposed changes would include lowering corporate tax for technology companies to only 12%, from 16% today, in the center of the country. The large multinational technology corporations would pay only 6% corporate tax.
8. China Tech Innovation Goes Mainstream (Finally) As Facebook, Twitter Look East For Ideas
When progress in China tech innovation hits the main pages of major U.S. metropolitan newspapers, you know the story has gone mainstream.China, not Silicon Valley, is cutting edge in mobile, reads a headline in the New York Times. The writer Paul Mozur goes to explain that WeChat and Alipay have popularized use of bar codes in China for payments, taxi hailing and food ordering while YY’s video streaming service has made online video stars a common thing.For years, it’s been argued that Chinese technologists are at their best when copying ideas from the west such as Google, Amazon and YouTube. Chinese entrepreneurs haven’t been highly regarded for innovating.But as the Times article points out, China’s tech industry has in some ways pulled ahead of the U.S. Facebook, Twitter and others look to China for ideas.
9. Hunger deaths don’t deter fund flow to food startups
The hunger for a small pie of the large food genre continues to inspire startup entrepreneurs as well as investors. In the week ended August 4, at least four food startups, two among them in the dreaded food-tech genre that saw heavy casualties in the past eight to 10 months, got a thumbs up from seasoned investors. Petoo, Daily Ninja, Yumlane and Tokri, though with different models but mainly rooted in the food business, raised at least Rs 30 crore from investors such as Flipkart co-founder and CEO Binny Bansal, and People Group founder Anupam Mittal, among others.The food genre, has in the past six months, seen sporadic deals coming through.
10. Polish 3D printer company Zortrax lied about contract with Dell
Two years ago when the international 3D printing industry was still a much-contended space a small Polish company called Zortrax made waves – and raised capital – on the news that it had signed a contract with Dell for 5,000 3D printers.I reported the news in 2014 and researched the implications more deeply later that year and found little that might concern an investor or fan: the company had a deal in place to supply printers to an Asian Dell R&D subsidiary but questions to that subsidiary were left unanswered and the co-founder of the company, Rafal Tomasiak, consistently defended the news with me personally. In April 2014 I approached him regarding the rumors that the order was false and he continued to lie. But by May I dropped the story and in many ways dropped the ball. For that I’m regretful and I’d like to follow the thread a little more deeply today.