A compilation of important news from the startup world:
Seeding startup success
The entrepreneurial spirit has always been strong in Asia, but it takes a lot of different factors to turn a tech-based startup into a success story. Acknowledging the new status quo, Asian governments are trying to build ideal digital ecosystems with favourable incentives to attract both talented entrepreneurs and the venture capital (VC) firms that back them. Several drawbacks for startups operating in Southeast Asia are the limitations on users and monetisation given the combination of low GDP per capita and low credit card penetration in the region,” said Eddie Thai, a venture partner with the early-stage VC firm 500 Startups. These challenges will be overcome with time in most countries, but it will be hard for any country to match Singapore, let alone Silicon Valley, without overcoming infrastructure and corruption issues.” One factor that favours internet-based businesses, however, is that globalisation has blurred borders and physical location is not a big issue, said Pumin Yuvacharuskul, a co-founder and CEO for Thailand of the restaurant portal Eatigo.
Cultivating a start-up culture
On the first day of the Asia-Pacific Weeks (APW) forum that was held last May in Berlin, I already sensed an excitement hovering in the air among the participants. Here’s why: the Asia-Pacific Weeks (APW) is an annual forum that invites leading experts from all over the world to Berlin for an exchange of ideas with economic regions having the highest growth-rates, therefore, providing notable influence to the global future. Specialists from the Asia-Pacific region and their European colleagues discuss vital topics ranging from economics and politics, research and science, culture and society, to transfer of knowledge. Since 1997, the Asia-Pacific Weeks Berlin (APW) has offered a unique European platform for an interdisciplinary, European-Asian dialogue with players from various fields, enabling debates on globally relevant subjects like smart cities, industry 4.0, digitalization, startups and innovations. Under the title “Asia-Europe Innovation Dialogue”, this year’s focus was on startups and their facilitative, innovative ecosystems. What particularly interested me as one of the participants coming from the Asean region, was the topic “Innovation and Exchange,” which tackled questions such as what does innovation management mean? How can the old economy learn from the new economy and vice versa? How are synergies created? How are these young enterprises being funded?
Indonesia’s Angin funds three new startups, adds more angels
Indonesian angel investment network Angin said it has distributed some undisclosed amount of funding to three new startups. At the same time, the network announced new investors and advisors to their organisation. The three startups that became Angin’s latest additions are maps platform Landmapp, marketing and directory app Qontak, and healthcare training provider Summit Healthcare. Landmapp received a pre-seed round of funding from Angin and other angel investors from across Europe and Asia. Based in Amsterdam, Landmapp helps provide smallholders farmers with documentation of their land. Often, these farmers hold little to no rights to their own land, let alone access to technical and financial services to improve their livelihoods. Landmapp unlocks the value of land by creative reliable data products for the farmers, buyer, and service provider. They educate farmers on the importance of land tenure,verify their identity, validate the land claim with neighbours, submit the claim to the authorities, and place the final product in their hands.
Mekong Angel Investors Network launches in Vietnam, to incubate 30 startups
The Asian Development Bank-backed Mekong Business Initiative and Lotus Impact Fund have kicked off the Mekong Angel Investors Network (MAIN) in Vietnam. Angel investors committed to the MAIN network include various serial entrepreneurs across the Asia Pacific, Europe and the US. An initiative supported by the government of Australia, investors joining MAIN are veterans Benni Aroni and Melbourne’s first venture accelerator AngelCube founder, Adrian Stone. Steve Landman, CEO of Lotus Impact Fund, joins five US investors. Meanwhile, Vietnamese investors include lawyer Dinh Thi Quynh Nhu, Nguyen Tien Trung, founder of the National Startup Consulting and Investment JSC, and Phan Tuan Anh, founder of Angels4us. The latter two are also partners of the Finland’s Innovation Partnership Programme in Vietnam. Angel investing is a vital source of risk or equity capital to startups and small and medium-sized businesses. MAIN will facilitate the entry of foreign angels in Vietnam, match them with local groups, and maximize linkages between angel groups and businesses,” said Dominic Mellor, executive director of the Mekong Business Initiative. “We want to promote a culture of ethical investment across the Mekong Region.”
Software company Condeco clinches $30m investment
Condeco, a London-based software company, has secured $30m in funding led by Highland Europe. Founded by Paul Statham – featured in our business success stories section – in 2005, Condeco develops a suite of workplace management tools to help its clients do everything from running meetings to providing staff with collaborative spaces. The 250-strong company, which achieved revenues of £15m last year, already works with major brands such as Barclays, Reuters and Unilever and has offices in 12 locations around the world. The funding will allow Condeco to accelerate its expansion across the US, Europe and Asia. Statham said: “This investment comes at the perfect time for Condeco, as it will fuel our growth as we pursue further strategic acquisitions across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. We will also invest in our solutions for the vitally important small business market.”
Eleven health tech startups to showcase innovative products on Demo Day
Virtual reality goggles that immerse patients in scenes of beauty that can help manage pain and anxiety. A new type of laryngoscope that increases the speed and safety of intubation. An online healthcare marketplace where patients pick their own prices for standardized medical and dental services. These are among the innovations that will be showcased during “Demo Day,” when 11 health tech startups will offer hundreds of investors and executives a first look at their new products that can improve the delivery of medical care, save lives and reduce healthcare costs. Demo Day caps three months of furious activity for the health tech startups chosen from a field of 500 global applicants by the Techstars Healthcare Accelerator, in partnership with Cedars-Sinai. “This is the biggest day of the program for these promising startups,” said Omkar Kulkarni, MPH, Healthcare Innovation Accelerator director at Cedars-Sinai. “Each company will share its story, demonstrate its project and hopefully convince investors to share their vision.”
Three African tech start-ups driving change
Jumia is a Nigerian online retailer founded in 2012 by two Nigerian Harvard Business School graduates, Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor. Jumia is growing at a high rate of approximately 20 per cent per month with orders having skyrocketed from about 3000 dollars monthly to millions of dollars monthly. The business has benefited from internet penetration in Nigeria of nearly 30 percent and a general shortage of middle class retail outlets. It has seized the opportunity by delivering purchased goods to towns and cities in all 36 states of Nigeria. Jumia is the first African company to win the world retail awards in 2013. Customers can use multiple payment options, including credit cards, Cash on Delivery method, Paga and a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology for online payments to prevent incidences of fraud. BRCK is a technology that ensures the cloud works when your connection does not. It is a self-powered mobile WiFi device that enables its users stay online regardless of power outages.
Leaving the EU would put tech startups at risk, says Ed Vaizey
The launch of London Technology Week saw culture and digital economy minister Ed Vaizey urging his audience to vote to remain in the European Union (EU). He said that the UK has had a “massive success story in attracting investment and talent” and if it should leave the EU “that talent will be put at massive risk”. “You all know how important it is to be able to access the talent pool across Europe. We really can’t put that at risk,” he added. He also said the digital single market is an “opportunity for tech companies in the UK to spread their wings even more than they are already doing”. Commenting on the launch of London Technology Week, he said that the UK tech industry is a “great success story” the government is proud to be a part of. During the week, more than 300 events will take place around the capital, including Computer Weekly’s 50 most influential women in UK IT event on 23 June 2016, where this year’s winner will be announced.
Kellogg’s creates a new fund, 1894, to back food and related startups
Instead of two scoops, here’s one big one– the Kellogg Company is launching a corporate venture arm called Eighteen94 Capital (1894) to invest in food and food-related tech startups. The name is a nod to the year that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother W.K. Kellogg, the company’s founder, created their first decidedly low-tech cereal. Venture investors historically ignored consumer packaged goods, but technologies from social media to molecular sensors have begun to figure more heavily in the development, manufacturing, marketing and sales of food products. Kellogg’s effort is just the latest in a string of funds created to grab stakes in hot startups in the massive global market for food. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, global food retail sales reach about $4 trillion annually. And packaged foods alone should generate revenue of $3.03 trillion annually by 2020, according to forecasts from Allied Market Research. Newer venture funds specializing in food-related deals include Accel Foods, CAVU Ventures, S2G Ventures and CircleUp.And consumer packaged goods giants who already invest in venture deals regularly include General Mills via its 301 INC fund, and the Campbell Soup Co., the sole limited partner in Acre Venture Partners.
18% of London tech firms still have no female board members
Up to 18% of technology businesses in London still have no women at board level, according to the annual TLA Women in Tech Leadership Index carried out by Tech London Advocates. The survey also found that 48% of women in the capital’s tech community hold less than 25% of senior management roles, with just 23% of senior management teams in tech firms reflecting the same gender diversity as London’s population. Despite industry-wide calls for more diversity following last year’s index results, these latest figures have led 60% of the Tech London Advocates community to suggest that London’s tech companies still do not reflect the diversity of the city. However, although female CEOs make up just 5% of FTSE 100 companies and 4% of the FTSE 250, 21% of respondents to the Index had a female chief executive and 60% claimed their business had actively taken measures in their recruitment strategies to increase diversity. Sarah Luxford, director at Nexec Leaders and TLA Women in Tech lead, commented: “Failing to engage women in technology careers undermines the open, diverse outlook of the digital industry.
4 things about Armenia as a tech hub: from startups to coding for kids
Technology media platform TechWorm has published an article on Armenia, suggesting the country has a few things to surprise the world with, and one of them is tech development. The feature focuses on 4 aspects making Armenia a tech center – startups, coding courses for kids, domestic production and Armenians in major tech firms. Despite its small size, author Narine Daneghyan says, nowadays approximately 200 tech startups operate in the country. At least 10 startups have passed the borders of Armenia, attracting millions of users and foreign investments. Among the highlights is Shadowmatic, a famous Armenian tech product which was launched in January 2015 by Triada Studio. The game is available in 13 languages and was awarded with Apple Design Awards in June, 2015. “PicsArt mobile app has more than 250 million downloads and 65 million active users monthly. It is declared one of the 2015 Forbes Hottest Startups of Silicon Valley, and evaluated $250 million by Forbes.
Britain leads Europe in tech, with 18 of 47 $1bn companies – report
Europe is a successful Unicorn ranch. The number of private technology companies valued north of $1bn – originally nicknamed after the mythical creature due to their supposed rareness – that are based in Europe has risen to 47, according to tech investment bank GP Bullhound. The count is up by 10 in the past year, and the combined value of the companies on the list is now $130bn (£90bn). More than a third of the Unicorns are based in Britain, including Asos, Transferwise and Zoopla, as well as new entrants on the list like augmented reality firm Blippar and business planning software makers Anaplan, founded in the UK but now based in San Francisco. Spotify has overtaken Skype as the most valuable unicorn in Europe, with a valuation of $8.5bn, and leads Sweden into second place by number of unicorns. The country has seven billion-dollar tech firms, and Germany, France and Israel (which is included in Europe for the purposes of this study) follow with six, three and three respectively.