News from around the world – July 5


A compilation of important news from the startup world:

5 Survival Strategies for Tech-Based Startups
Technology seems to be the USP of majority of start-ups and they spend hefty amount of time and funds on developing the technology that is unmatched to their competitors. This is one of the way all the start-ups fascinate investors and venture capitalists. However, technology implementation and management is not an easy service to do. In my own journey to start a venture, which is also one of the technology driven start-up, I realized that handling technology is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Once designed, you can’t just put it away for forever. You need to keep upgrading it with your changing preferences, customer requirements and advancements in technology else your USP can easily become obsolete. A start-up’s first big investment is in its people who form the asset base for the company. If you hire the right person, he will take the start-up technology to the right direction. When there is an involvement of technology, there are security risks that are needed to be addressed. There have been various hacks and attacks on big technology based websites in the past that has made it necessary for all the technology based start-ups to put this concern at their priority list.

Uber Rival Grab Gains Ground in Southeast Asia
Uber Technologies Inc. is locked in major tussles with local rivals in China and India, but a homegrown upstart is also grabbing an advantage in the race for another Asia prize.A startup called Grab is winning ride-hailing turf in Southeast Asia—home to 600 million people, almost double the population of the U.S. The startup serves more cities in the region than Uber and, according to mobile-app analytics firm App Annie, is beating the world’s most valuable startup in the race for users here.The region’s ride-hailing market is forecast to grow more than five times to $13.1 billion by 2025 from $2.5 billion last year, according to a recent report on Southeast Asia’s internet economy conducted by Alphabet Inc. ’s Google and Singapore state-investment firm Temasek Holdings.Singapore-based GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd., as it is formally known, launched in 2012 and offers locally tailored services such as motorcycle taxis—a popular method for negotiating the region’s traffic-clogged cities—package deliveries and cash payment. It also has a pilot carpooling service allowing people living in southern Malaysia, where living costs are lower than in neighboring Singapore, to share rides into the city-state.In four years, the company, valued at $1.6 billion in its most recent funding round last year, has expanded to 1,600 employees. It operates in 30 Southeast Asian cities — twice as many as Uber—in six countries.

Asia-Pacific rides fintech growth wave
Asia-Pacific saw the world’s highest growth in financial technology investment in 2015 thanks to its large population base and advanced banking system, says global consulting firm Accenture. According to the firm, Asean will play host to the next wave of growth in global fintech investment in 2016. “Major banks in Thailand are increasingly investing in fintech companies to develop innovative and efficient digital banking solutions for better customer service,” said Nontawat Poomchusri, country managing director of Accenture Thailand. Fintech, which relies on using software to provide financial services, is increasingly shaking up the industry. Mr Nontawat said Thai banks with innovative fintech services would have strong potential to play a role in the regional market. A report conducted by Accenture entitled “Fintech and the evolving landscape: Landing points for the industry structure”, found that global fintech investment in the first quarter of 2016 amounted to US$5.3 billion — an increase of 67% year-on-year. Global investment in fintech ventures in 2015 reached $22.3 billion, up 75% from 2014, with the Asia-Pacific region experiencing the highest growth level with $4.3 billion — 19% of the total.

In race to be Asia’s fintech hub, Singapore leads Hong Kong
Singapore is rushing to reinvent itself as Asia’s financial technology, or fintech, hub to fend off a regulatory threat to its wealth management industry and revive a sluggish economy. State funding, light-touch regulation and a recent move to allow start-ups to test financial products in a controlled environment have put Singapore ahead of rival Hong Kong to be Asia’s fintech hotspot. Much like Uber, Airbnb and others have harnessed technology and online social networking to disrupt taxi and hotel services, fintech firms are shaking up the traditional banking and financial services industry. Singapore’s fintech drive comes as its role as an offshore private banking centre is under threat from a multi-billion-dollar money laundering scandal in neighbouring Malaysia, and as Indonesia chases undeclared money parked in the low-tax city state. Also, Singapore’s traditional shipping and manufacturing growth drivers are faltering amid a global economic slowdown and a slump in commodity prices and demand. BREXIT BOOST? Singapore is attracting interest, too, from among the 60,000 or so fintech firms based in London’s near-$9 billion market – a trend likely to accelerate with Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union. “We already have registered interest from UK-based companies to move to Asia as it’s getting very crowded there,” said Markus Gnirck, partner and co-founder of tryb, a fintech consultancy. “Brexit will probably accelerate a few of these conversations.”

There will be funding, development and mentoring for women-led startups across South and Southeast Asia.
There will be funding, development and mentoring for women-led startups across South and Southeast Asia.

Support of female-fronted startups meets a need: DAN
Denstu Aegis Network has unveiled a new programme, together with Dentsu Ventures and iProspect, to provide funding, development and mentoring for women-led startups across South and Southeast Asia. The three-part programme—which is being handled by DAN’s diversity and innovation arm One@DentsuAegis—has been developed in partnership with several female-led groups including Female Founder, Women Unlimited and She Means Business. Dentsu will launch the venture in August. The agency said it is committed to the empowerment and promotion of female leadership in startups across Asia. Successful entrants into the programme will be given the opportunity to pitch for secondary funding, a stage which many find difficult to get to, through Dentsu Ventures. Ruth Stubbs, CEO of iProspect Asia-Pacific, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that this is the first programme of its kind “that closes the loop from recruitment to mentorship to funding”. “Firstly this initiative is responding to the growing number of female-founded start-ups, as evidenced through our research,” she said. “While we’ve uncovered the growing presence of this trend, we’ve also been able to understand challenges these entrepreneurs face, so secondly, this initiative is designed to help them accelerate and scale their businesses.” “We are motivated by the value this will bring to their communities, not to mention the inspiration and confidence it will bring to other women.”

SE Asian startups poised for growth
Golden Gate Ventures recently closed a new $60 million fund for Southeast Asia’s rapidly-growing startup ecosystem. The Singapore-based venture capital (VC) firm sees opportunities in the region, which has already attracted more than $1.7 billion in investment capital this year, and is projected to draw $40 billion over the next 10 years. The Post’s Cam McGrath spoke to Justin Hall, principal at Golden Gate Ventures, about the firm’s fund-raising efforts and take on the region’s investment climate.You just closed your second fund. How difficult has it been to raise venture capital funds in Southeast Asia? All fundraising is difficult, but I’m relieved to say that Southeast Asia is becoming a more attractive market for limited partners. However, they were Asia-focused to begin with, and saw Southeast Asia more as a new opportunity within the broader Asia economic narrative than an entirely different market. How healthy is Southeast Asia’s startup scene, and is there indication it is following the same trajectory as China or India? We feel that Southeast Asia has passed an inflection point in terms of venture capital and startup formation, in the sense that both are relatively self-sustaining industries now. We do believe that Southeast Asia will follow the same path as China and India before it.

Tiny tech titan Estonia’s start-ups eyeing global digital nomads
Upwardly-mobile, tech-savvy young professionals across the globe are swapping their briefcases and brogues for backpacks and sneakers, setting themselves up as digital nomads who can operate from wherever their laptops can go. Jobbatical and Teleport, two recent tech start-ups, promise to take the guess-work out of digital job-hunting on a global scale. Both hail from tiny tech titan Estonia and are part of a crop of cutting-edge online sites catering to digital nomads, typically young males who work remotely and move around regions like Southeast Asia every few months. Their creators insist the start-ups have the potential to shake things up on the global job market, similar to how Estonians previously transformed global communications with Skype and digital international money transfers via Transferwise. Tallinn-based entrepreneur Karoli Hindriks said she launched Jobbatical two years ago to fill the growing gaps she noticed in global recruiting. With employment offers from Greece, to Thailand and Costa Rica among others, it takes just a few clicks of the mouse for product or account managers, programmers and other tech professionals to land a dream job, whether programming in Malaysia’s tropical paradise of Penang or managing an adventure travel operation in Bali. Jobbatical targets “adventurous tech, business, and creative professionals with over five years of working experience,” Hindriks told AFP at the Latitude59 technology conference in Estonia’s capital Tallinn.

Why Edinburgh is the ultimate city to launch a tech startup
Edinburgh’s tech community is close-knit, supportive and has a real sense of camaraderie.It also plays host to a staggering number of events that give budding entrepreneurs the chance to dust off their networking skills, make friends and pick up some business cards. Getting into the entrepreneurial spirit is easy and there is usually something for everyone in Edinburgh.General networking events like Tech Meetup provide monthly meet ups for people to discuss their projects with like-minded techies. For those with a niche interest, there are more specialised clubs including UX developer meet ups and JavaScript clubs. Informatics Ventures, who offer support to tech entrepreneurs and encourage the scaling of Scottish startups, also host a formidable array of events and workshops, as do the city’s tech incubators. Co-working office spaces are becoming increasingly important to Edinburgh’s startup scene. Not only do they offer affordable hot-desking opportunities but they also allow access to fellow entrepreneurs and provide support when necessary. TechCube launched in 2013 and was city’s first incubator. It offers a co-working and hot-desking space to fledgling tech start-ups, bringing them together into a collaborative environment.The most recent tech incubator to launch in the city is Codebase, which currently houses over 60 startups in its 250,000 sq ft property that lies in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

New economic warriors
Building up tech startups as new economic warriors to help drive the country’s digital ecosystem is the right course, say government officials. The state is providing a slew of tax incentives to local Building up tech startups as new economic warriors to help drive the country’s digital ecosystem is the right course, say government officials. The state is providing a slew of tax incentives to local tech-based startups to boost Thailand’s next wave of tech growth and economic growth. Industry veterans, however, have expressed concern that these might not be sufficient for sustainable development. Easing government regulations for startups with friendly policies and incentives to lure global entrepreneurs and investors, as well as promoting talents and mentors, are also essential to sustainable development. The government aims to boost the number of local tech startups from the current 2,000 to 10,000 by the year-end. It will set up a 20-billion-baht fund to help raise funds for startups startups this year. The state has already offered a 10-year income tax waiver for venture capital firms and private equity trusts that invest in technology and innovation in the country’s 10 core industries. A startup ecosystem is formed by startups in various stages and various types of organisations in a locale, interacting as a system to create new startup companies. These organisations can be further divided into categories: universities; funding organisations; support organisations such as incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces; and service providers offering legal and financial services.

From SEALs to startups: special ops drawn to Silicon Valley
Keith David spent years flying around the globe on covert missions, making life-and-death decisions and overseeing multiple units unleashing airstrikes against insurgents. The former Navy SEAL now realizes it was the perfect training for a career in Silicon Valley. A growing number of U.S. special operations forces veterans are veering off the traditional path of working for private security firms and law enforcement agencies, and instead are heading into the tech industry. Companies are discovering their abilities to build teams and think outside the box make them a good fit for the innovative businesses. “It’s very adaptable and flexible, especially a startup, so it’s kind of like the Wild West where there are not a lot of rules,” David, 32, said of Silicon Valley, where he has worked at a robotics startup since October. “It’s more about getting things done and executing them. It’s very much like the SEAL teams in that there is not a lot of control from the top down.” There is no hard data, but anecdotally Silicon Valley businesses and special forces’ veterans say they are seeing more former SEALs, Army Rangers and other special ops seeking jobs at the likes of Facebook, Airbnb and small startups. “Special ops work in this blend of a big traditional structure and a small agile team. They grow up in this gray area that is a mix of big and stable and fast and light,” Chris Fussell, a former SEAL and managing partner of the McChrystal Group founded by retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The consulting firm works with Silicon Valley companies.

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