News from around the world – May 26

Focus is shifting towards tech startups.

A compilation of important news from the startup world: 

 

Why Your Tech Startup Needs Customer Support: An Interview With Desk.com’s Hana Mandapat
If you really want to know how to set up customer support for your tech company, there is no better place to go than to the customer support for a customer support tech company. In 2011, Salesforce bought an out-of-the-box customer support app called Assistly, and renamed it Desk.com. Small and medium sized businesses use Saleforce for their CRM solutions, so integrating the app was a no-brainer and has proved very worthwhile for all parties involved. Although cutting costs on customer support may seem like a savvy strategy for your cash-strapped startup, Hana Mandapat, Director of Marketing for Desk.com, urges you to consider again. Mandapat communicates with startups and small businesses about how they’re using customer service to grow their business, and how Desk.com can help them. She’s seen the negative effects of poor customer service, and how they can tank a startup.

A short guide to planning a fintech startup strategy
‘Fintech’ is a phrase which is increasingly being talked about among the masses. This industry provides financial services to its customers through the Internet, which aims at replacing incumbent financial systems with user-friendly technologies. People look forward to such technologies that help them in deciding their investments; return on investment on e-gold, real estate and shares being at ease. Current trends demand that you must invest in cloud-based applications, as they improve your work efficiency, saves costs and makes it easily accessible. So, your customer can seek answers to their financial queries by phone.

Unilever on taking its startup program Foundry to Asia
The Unilever Foundry was set up in May 2014, with a team headquartered in London. We have a presence in San Francisco, and in Singapore for Asia. Since then, we have launched over 100 pilots with innovative startups around the world. We launched the Singapore program in January 2015 and provide an opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs to collaborate on global projects, access mentoring from marketing professionals and tap into a new source of funding from Unilever Ventures, our venture capital arm. Unilever brands are constantly looking for innovative technology solutions but these objectives vary for every brand. In Southeast Asia, we are on the lookout to find startups that tackle specific challenges including advertising and marketing tech solutions which enable superior digital marketing, mobile, content, ecommerce, analytics and data management.

Local eCommerce startups include ‘Malaysia’s first tech-based real estate company’
According to Malaysian startup bumbung, it is the country’s first tech-based real estate company and aims to link home seekers with established and reputable real-estate agents. At the recent launch in Kuala Lumpur, co-founder Gadiy Lim said the idea for the startup, which was founded with Claire Berneron, was based on their personal experiences and observations on the local process of purchasing, renting and selling property.  Lim said that one of the ways to add further value to home seekers was that real estate agents can list their property once, and will be notified by bumbung if a match is made with a listing in the database. Each listing will include pictures and detailed information about the property.

Temasek sees no sharp rebound in global startup valuations
Funding for global tech startups should return, even if valuations don’t rebound to their 2015 levels as investors press for less inflated values, a senior executive at Singapore state investor Temasek said. Lured by a potential market for app-based, on-demand and logistics-heavy businesses, venture capitalists and others have thrown billions of dollars to startups that often need only cash and a working app to enter the fray. Some industry watchers warn of a tech bubble, and capital inflows to the sector have eased since late last year. Temasek, which manages a portfolio worth S$266 billion ($193 billion), has invested in several startups including India’s restaurant search and food delivery service Zomato and online marketplace Snapdeal, as well as Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing.

America is taking notice of Vietnam startups: Obama
The US government and corporations are hoping for more exchange of knowledge between the two countries, US president Barack Obama told Vietnamese entrepreneurs during his three-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation. “Your success sends a message to global investors about this country’s incredible potential for innovation. Hopefully it also encourages other Vietnamese entrepreneurs to chase that new idea and start the new company, which will continue to fuel an ever-expanding Vietnamese economy,” he commented, while hosting a session for Vietnam’s startup community at Dreamplex co-working space in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday evening. Next month at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which Obama has been hosting for several years, eight Vietnamese entrepreneurs will visit Silicon Valley to learn from some of the best entrepreneurs and startups and venture capitalists in the world, he revealed during the interaction at Dreamplex.

Dutch relax rules for start-up salaries as big names in tech hit Amsterdam
The Dutch government is to relax the employment rules for start-ups and scale-ups, dropping the requirement that owners pay themselves a salary of at least €44,000 a year. Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp said on Tuesday that it is crucial the Netherlands remains a ‘breeding ground for new products, services and business models’. As part of this, founders will now be allowed to pay themselves the minimum wage – around €19,500 a year – for the first three years of operation, Kamp said. This, he said, will free up more cash to invest in the company itself. The event runs from the 24 to the 28 of May in thirteen Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven, and events are grouped around topics such as energy, high tech, mobile technology and smart cities.

TandemLaunch Raises $12 Million to Invest in Tech Startups
TandemLaunch has announced the first closing of its third fund. The self-described “company creator and seed fund,” which incubates tech startups, has closed $12 million so far for its latest fund, TandemLaunch Ventures II. As lead investor, BDC Capital contributed $4 million to the new fund. Over 30 private investors also joined in, including investment firms such as Lune Rouge Innovation and Speed of Trust Ventures along with entrepreneurs and angel investors such as Nathalie Marcoux and Jean-François Grenon. A subsidiary of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), BDC Capital offers a full spectrum of specialized financing and investment solutions to help Canadian entrepreneurs achieve their full growth potential. With more than $1 billion under management, BDC Capital takes a strategic, patient approach to nurture companies’ development over the long term

Bangladesh-based payment startup CloudWell raises $2 mn
Aavishkaar Venture Management, a venture capital firm focused on enterprises engaged in India’s rural areas and the bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) segment, has invested $2 million in Bangladesh-based payment solutions provider CloudWell Ltd. This is the VC firm’s first investment in Bangladesh and the third from its South and Southeast Asia-focused investment vehicle Aavishkaar Frontier Fund. The startup will use the funds for scaling up its network. CloudWell provides agent-based last mile payment solutions to telecom operators and mobile financial services players, among others, under the brand PayWell. The company was founded in 2014 and claims to have a network of over 5,000 retailers across 34 districts in Bangladesh.

3 Tricks Asia’s Top Startups Use To Find That Elusive Capital
Venture capital firms like to fund startup founders who they call serial investors. That means people who have hatched companies before with a track record for making them work. Millennials are usually too young for such a record. A company founder just out of college could apply for a bank loan, but the credit people will want to see collateral and where would it come from? Yet thousands of Asian entrepreneurs under age 30 have built startups, in some cases with no short-term revenue model. Venture capitalists who interview applicants say asking mom and dad is the most common way that founders of Asian startups get help. Parents can at least give in-kind funding: the right to keep living at home, saving rent money, and in much of Asia it’s socially acceptable to stay with parents until marriage.

Vancouver tech startup attracts U.S. investors despite vow to stay in Canada
A Vancouver startup that hopes to improve the process of building mobile software apps has attracted one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms to lead its Series A funding round – on condition that it can stay put in Canada. Buddybuild, founded by former Microsoft and Amazon executive Dennis Pilarinos, said on Tuesday that it had raised $7.6-million (U.S.) in a financing led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. U.S investors from its $1.2-million seed financing last year, Amplify Partners, Blooomberg Beta and First Round Capital, also participated.

Tech startup says it can tell if you’re a pedophile just by scanning your face
And you thought the technology used in the movie Minority Report was scary. Per The Washington Post, an Israeli tech startup called Faception is claiming that it has developed analytics software to help government agencies identify prospective terrorists, pedophiles and white-collar criminals. The basic idea behind the startup is that human faces have multiple characteristics that are reflective of the genes that determine our personalities. Because these facial features are undetectable by human eyes, however, we need advanced software to root them out, which is where Faception comes in. It’s always good to be skeptical of tech startups, particularly when they are making claims that are this bold about their technological capabilities. Nonetheless, the Post states that Faception has “already signed a contract with a homeland security agency to help identify terrorists,” so it’s apparently being taken seriously by the federal government.

 

Tech Pitch: Debut
Debut is the world’s first mobile app that allows students to secure an internship or graduate job at blue chip companies just by playing a mobile game or being ‘Talent Spotted’. For the first time students can ‘game the system’ and fast track the 40 hours spent on applying for internships and graduate schemes. There is also a “Talent Spot” feature which enables top employers to target students and graduates directly, inviting them to events, interviews or even fast-tracking students to assessment centres, directly via their mobile phone. This highlights an issue that entry level recruitment processes haven’t yet understood or embraced how best to engage young people in the modern world. With thousands of grads and interns battling it out for jobs and internships year on year, the application process has become tedious and repetitive. As a result, students are becoming disillusioned and leading businesses are not getting the talent they need. To fill this need, Debut was created.

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