News compilations from startup world :
PwC Singapore launches Venture Hub, one-stop shop for investors and startups
PwC Singaporea Tuesday announced the launch of Venture Hub, which it said was the world’s first one-stop shop, that will help both investors and entrepreneurs ‘navigate the complex startup ecosystem’. The consulting and auditing firm, which has been active in the fintech space in the city-state, said Venture Hub would go beyond this sector, and look at disruptive technology in areas such as Biomedicaltech, Regtech, Wealthtech, Legaltech amongst others, and added that this concept would help its clients connect to other regional and global markets. The team will be based in city-state and headed by Patrick Yeo, PwC’s Venture Hub leader. “There are many stake holders in the venture ecosystem ranging from start-ups, investors, incubators, accelerators to government agencies, each playing an important role. In order to effectively meet the needs of the varied stakeholders with speed, agility and efficiency, we felt that the conventional model of how professional services firms provided advice to such stakeholders had to change,” Yeo said in a statement.
Aramex founder to invest in Gulf startups following stake sale
Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex PJSC, plans to raise as much as $500 million for a second venture capital fund to invest in the burgeoning e-commerce business in the Middle East. Ghandour, who this week sold his stake in Dubai-based logistics company Aramex, is closing Wamda Capital’s first $70 million fund soon, he said in an interview today. The fund will target an average investment of $250,000 to $5 million in the early and growth stages of e-commerce and technology companies, he said. Ghandour, Wamda’s chairman, said he will start fundraising next year for Wamda II, with a target size of $300 million to $500 million that will extend investments to Turkey and Pakistan. “E-commerce is happening in the region, it’s growing massively,” Ghandour told Bloomberg TV. “There’s about 200 million people in the region that are online. They are transacting. They are effectively building the next economy. I’m betting on those.” Ghandour sold his holding in Aramex, which he owned through a stake in Levant Logistics, to two companies backed by Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC. Ghandour says he plans to spend more time on his new ventures and supporting tech startups. “My time is really focused on what I’m doing in the future,” Ghandour said, making it easier “to take the decision and do what I’ve done with Aramex.”
You’re an App away from making better healthcare decisions with HealthJoy
Political reforms in the U.S. have drastically changed the healthcare landscape, resulting in insurance plans and coverage even more puzzling and hard to navigate. Higher premiums and deductibles, increased out-of-pocket expenses, and thinner networks have shifted the cost burden to the consumer, making it hard to control their annual healthcare expenses. There has been a lot of effort to make the health insurance process simple and convenient. Healthjoy is one such company which has come up with an idea to help us make better healthcare decisions. HealthJoy is on a mission to help people make better healthcare decisions through technology and trustworthy customer service.
Rural tech startups see success across the US
While tech startups have become synonymous with urban areas that offer improved access to talent, resources and infrastructure, the reality is that rural areas are also home to startups. This may come as a surprise to those who have moved away from rural areas specifically to find a job in the tech industry, which accounts for more than 6.7 million jobs in the United States alone. Population loss is a real issue for much of rural America; some states, such as Nebraska and Kansas, have introduced tax incentives to fight back against this trend. Others are turning to technology to counter the trend. States are starting to recognize the importance of supporting and developing opportunities for rural counties. In the state of Washington, the Department of Commerce has been encouraging business plan competitions in rural areas with “at least 10 competitions in rural areas that we have promoted and supported,” stated Maury Forman, senior manager of the rural initiatives and innovations at Washington State Department of Commerce.
Nashville accelerator home for music tech start-ups
Erik Mendelson and Winston Thomas are waiting backstage at the Country Music Hall of Fame, but they won’t be crooning country tunes. They’ve created a music app, and this is their pitch day: Mendelson is about to ask a room full of investors to give them $450,000. “He looks nervous,” Thomas says, looking over at his cofounder. Mendelson shakes his head. A few minutes later, Mendelson takes the stage in front of a giant projector screen. The company logo for RecordGram pops up. He explains the idea behind RecordGram: big-name producers can upload their leftover beats on this app, and people can license them in their own work. He pitches confidently about the company’s numbers, its revenue potential and its celebrity ties (one of the cofounders is Shawn Mims, the hip-hop artist best known for the 2007 hit song “This Is Why I’m Hot”). But ultimately, none of those investors in the audience bite. Mendelson says companies like his are a hard sell. “Getting investment to music technology is difficult, no matter what city you’re in, even in San Fran and New York and Austin and Los Angeles,” he said.
Denver-area tech companies growing up, growing out of startup office spaces
Denver’s technology startups are growing up and the real estate industry has noticed. CBRE, a commercial real estate broker, found that tech was the most active industry to expand in metro Denver office spaces last year, outdoing the perennial leader of financial services. According to CBRE’s Colorado Tech Book 2016, tech firms leased 1.1 million square feet, or 16.5 percent of the commercial office leases in metro Denver, compared to about 10.7 percent in 2014. Tech, which includes software and hardware businesses, was followed by healthcare leases at 15.6 percent, and energy firms at 13.29 percent. The telecom industry was separated from tech and ranked seventh, at 7.38 percent. But the rise isn’t due just to the entrepreneurial spirit and growth in coworking spaces, although there is a lot of that. It’s that startups are growing up and entering a new mid-level stage of business. They’re not sticking with hipster converted industrial spaces or an urban atmosphere, said Jessica Ostermick, director of research and analysis for CBRE. “Denver is great because of that startup dynamic. But in order to mature into that gazelle, they’re signing leases. And they’re adding meaningful numbers in employment,” Ostermick said. “Downtown is garnering much more attention from tech companies and it’s not just LoDo and brick and timber (construction). There are tech companies who are very happy in traditional high rises. They can get a ping-pong table on the 34th floor just as they can in RiNo.”
FunderTech throws Kiwi tech startups a lifeline to China
Kiwi startup businesses have a new lease on life – and funding – through a valuable link with angel investors and venture capitalists who can provide investment, manufacturing and distribution in China. Kiwi-based company FunderTech.com is leveraging its relationship with a Chinese investor club that has offices in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Shenzhen. “New Zealand is a hot-bed for testing great ideas but often lacks access to global capital and consumer markets. China is currently awash with cash and is looking abroad for venture capital investment opportunities,” says FunderTech founder Rob Thomas. FunderTech gives 5-8 startups per month the chance to pitch their ideas in front of the Chinese investor clubs, comprising 500-800 angel investors. They can also meet visiting venture capitalists who present at the China Globasl Investment Summit each month. Entry into the summit is limited and exclusive. Startups must complete a pre-application process to match with partners who have a good fit. Thomas says startups should have a working prototype, early stage sales, validated market research and a stable exit strategy to be well-primed for application success
Los Gatos chip tech company boosts microcap IPO goals
Chip tech business Atomera on Friday increased the amount it hopes to raise in a microcap IPO to $24 million. The Los Gatos company led by CEO Scott Bibaud said it now plans to sell 3.2 million shares at a price of $7.50, instead of the 2.4 million shares it originally planned to offer. Its total market cap will be around $85 million after the IPO. Atomera is taking advantage of the “emerging growth company” provision of the JOBS Act. This allows businesses that have less than $1 billion in annual revenue to raise up to $50 million in a public offering without all the auditing and financial reporting that usually comes with going public. The company’s relatively modest IPO plans come in a year when only two Bay Area tech companies have debuted their stock on Wall Street and tech startups have had a harder time raising funds than in the recent past.
Queensland Govt opens procurement door for tech startups and SMBs
A new program making it easier for startups and small businesses to access Queensland Government work and improve services has been launched. Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch, said the Advance Queensland Testing Within Government (TWiG) program is designed to “broaden government procurement opportunities” for small ICT businesses and startups. “TWiG is a quick and practical program that will help small businesses gain insights into the ICT needs of government and speed up the development of their innovative solutions to meet those challenges,” Enoch said. “It can be difficult for small businesses to compete with major suppliers for government work, so we’re providing them the opportunity to gain practical on-the-ground experience working with a large organisation. “This will provide valuable insights when seeking future Queensland Government or large commercial contracts.”
Startups are bringing low-cost 401(k)s to small businesses
A host of new startups are experimenting with robo-style investment services, launching online 401(k) plans for small business workers to satisfy both employee demand and state regulations, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some of the new companies include Dream Forward Financial LLC, Captain401 Inc., ForUsAll Inc. and SaveDay Inc., and are backed by venture capitalists and tech-savvy entrepreneurs looking to bring some retirement tools to the 42 million workers for businesses that employ 100 people or less. “The 401(k) market is ripe for disruption,” Cynthia Loh, general manager of robo-advisory pioneer Betterment LLC’s 401(k) business, told the paper. “Everybody is trying to leverage technology to make things more efficient.”