Asia PE-VC Summit 2018: Indochina is attractive but a long-term play

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L-R: DEALSTREETASIA Vietnam correspondent Nguyen Bich Ngoc, ACA Investments partner Hiroyuki Ono,, Vynn Capital managing partner Victor Chua, EMIA CEO, Joshua Morris and Anthem Asia co-founder and MD Genevieve Heng at the DEALSTREETASIA PE-VC Summit 2018.

Ka Kay Lum

September 19, 2018 Indochina – which comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand – is fast catching investor interest even though the returns timeline appear to be long drawn.

While it is a good time to invest in Indochina, investors will have to be ready for a fairly long ride as the region, particularly Myanmar, is likely to go through a difficult situation, according to speakers of the Indochina panel at DEALSTREETASIA’s Asia PE-VC Summit 2018.

“Myanmar is likely to go through a difficult situation, where you have general elections in 2020, and tourism and FDI are currently down. You have to be ready for a fairly long ride,” said Emerging Markets Investment Advisors CEO, Joshua Morris, commenting on the potential of Myanmar as an investment destination.

Morris, along with Anthem Asia co-founder and managing director Genevieve Heng, Vynn Capital managing partner Victor Chua, and ACA Investments partner Hiroyuki Ono, were speaking on the panel theme of ‘Indochina – Emerging from the Fringes.’

Anthem Asia’s Heng concurred, saying that investments in the Indochina region were a long-term play. The Myanmar-focused PE firm has recently achieved first close of its SME Venture Fund at $34.5 million.

“You can find deals – but again, if you find the right company [to invest in], follow-on opportunities are there. Can you ride it out? Now is a good time to invest. It’s not that there is no universe – in Myanmar, 99 per cent of the private companies are SMEs (small and medium enterprises). We got a healthy pipeline,” Heng said.

“Myanmar is still very much in a transit space. The mindset there is very different and the new generation wants to hear from the outside. But you have to build the ability to source deals. In Myanmar, you cannot be [a] passive [investor], if you’re doing an early stage deal, you have to active,” she said.

Commenting from a VC perspective, Vynn Capital’s Chua noted that there are two types VCs – passive and active. The VC firm is raising a $40 million debut vehicle targeting Southeast Asian investments.

“When it comes to Vietnam, you need to provide a lot of hand-holding, also in Myanmar. When it comes to trends,  we’re in hospitality, property, food and women consumers. Consumerism, as a whole, will continue to be the key for IndoChina,” he said.

Chua also pointed out that markets like Myanmar and Vietnam are seeing a “convergence between PE and VC”.

“Kind of an interesting time where both sides are trying to understand how valuation works. For us VCs, when you talk about EBITDA, there is none for us to begin with. In that case, we’ll see which side will have a bigger pull factor. I think there will be a compromise point where PE and VC will infuse and get involved coherently,” he said.

Japanese PE player ACA Investments, which has been focusing a lot on Vietnam and is raising a debut $100 million country-focussed fund for the market, noted that real estate is still an attractive space.

Ono said, the firm is looking to focus on warehouse investments in Vietnam with a holding period of five to six years.

“Population density brings a lot of opportunity. The real estate landscape in Vietnam has changed since 2015 summer, when foreign investors were able to buy properties there. The cycle has also managed to capture opportunity in bringing the high-end property segment into the market. As a PE, we’re investing into a company and its management. Real estate is a stable investment and I found that it is still an attractive segment,” he said.

Vynn Capital Partners with the World Tourism Organization to Boost Asia’s Tourism Sector

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 9 August 2018 – Vynn Capital, a South-East Asia-based early-stage venture capital firm, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) today jointly announced a strategic partnership to promote South-East Asia’s tourism sector by facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation.

Through this strategic partnership, Vynn Capital and UNWTO will collaborate to create a framework and policies to support technology startups that are addressing opportunities and challenges in the region’s tourism sector. Both parties will work together to encourage traditional industry players such as hotel groups, property groups and food companies to adopt digital strategies, as well as to encourage more investment by the private sector into technology companies. Vynn Capital will act as UNWTO’s partner on initiatives to achieve these goals, by supporting tourism entrepreneurs and traditional industry players as the tourism market embraces technology and innovation.

“The tourism sector represents a huge opportunity for South-East Asia, where we see the emergence of a strong middle class. Vynn Capital has identified tourism as a key investment space and we will continue to work with entrepreneurs and industry players to promote the region’s tourism sector. We believe technology companies that focus on the mobility of consumers, such as Indonesia’s Travelio and Carsome, who already has operations in four key countries in South-East Asia, will continue to champion the economic impact of tourism growth. We join hands with UNWTO to foster a new generation of innovative tourism companies in South-East Asia,” said Victor Chua, Founding and Managing Partner of Vynn Capital and Chairman of the Malaysia Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (MVCA).

“UNWTO is proud to partner with Vynn Capital, who will help us to create real solutions for the much-needed digital transformation of tourism. Such partnerships are key to continue generating opportunities all through tourism, and prove that venture capital has a role to play when we want to advance sustainable development,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

According to UNWTO, international arrivals have increased in all regions since the start of 2018, continuing the strong trend of previous years. The strong growth is led by Asia and the Pacific (+8%), especially South-East Asia (+10%) and South Asia (+9%) where growth has already surpassed that of 2017 when Asia saw a 6% increase in international arrivals. This is significant, considering that Asia and the Pacific represents around 29% of international tourism receipts.

About Vynn Capital

Vynn Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm that focuses on opportunities in South-East Asia. The team has experience investing across Asia, with notable past investments in companies such as Triip.me, Carsome, Hermo and others. The firm focuses on bridging the knowledge and experience gap between incumbent industry players and startups, within industries such as travel, property, food & FMCG, female economics, logistics and enablers. Vynn Capital encourages strong partnerships of corporations and families with technology companies, as well as synergy between companies in creating more value for the ecosystem.

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Vynn Capital Jalin Kemitraan dengan UNWTO untuk Tingkatkan Sektor Pariwisata Asia

SIAR.Com, Kuala Lumpur – Perusahaan modal ventura, Vynn Capital, jalin kemitraan strategis dengan Organisasi Pariwisata Dunia di bawah naungan PBB (UN World Tourism Organization/UNWTO) untuk mempromosikan sektor pariwisata Asia Tenggara dengan memfasilitasi kewirausahaan dan inovasi.

Dengan kemitraan strategis ini, Vynn Capital dan UNWTO akan bekerja sama untuk menciptakan kerangka kerja dan kebijakan yang mendukung startup teknologi dalam menangani peluang dan tantangan di sektor pariwisata di Asia Tenggara.

Kedua pihak akan bekerja sama dalam mendorong pemain industri tradisional seperti hotel, properti dan perusahaan makanan untuk melakukan inovasi dan mengadopsi strategi digital serta mendorong lebih banyak investasi oleh sektor swasta ke perusahaan teknologi.

Menurut Founder dan Managing Partner Vynn Capital Victor Chua, sektor pariwisata merupakan peluang besar, terutama untuk Asia Tenggara, dengan munculnya kelas menengah yang kuat. “Vynn Capital telah mengidentifikasi pariwisata sebagai salah satu ruang investasi utama bagi kami, dan kami akan terus bekerja dengan pengusaha dan pelaku industri untuk mempromosikan sektor pariwisata di kawasan itu. Kami percaya perusahaan teknologi yang berfokus pada mobilitas konsumen seperti Travelio dan Carsome Indonesia, yang sudah beroperasi di empat negara utama di Asia Tenggara, akan terus menjadi juara yang mewakili dampak ekonomi dari pertumbuhan pariwisata,” katanya di Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Rabu (8/8/2018).

“Untuk itu, Vynn Capital bergandeng tangan dengan UNWTO untuk mengembangkan generasi baru perusahaan pariwisata yang inovatif di Asia Tenggara,” kata Victor Chua yang juga menjabat sebagai Ketua Asosiasi Modal Ventura & Modal Swasta Malaysia (Malaysian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association/MVCA).

Sementara itu, Sekretaris Jenderal UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili mengatakan, “UNWTO bangga bermitra dengan Vynn Capital, yang akan membantu kami menghasilkan solusi nyata untuk transformasi digital yang sangat dibutuhkan dari pariwisata. Kemitraan ini adalah kunci untuk terus menghasilkan peluang bagi semua melalui pariwisata, dan bukti bahwa modal ventura memiliki peran untuk dimainkan ketika kami ingin memajukan pembangunan berkelanjutan,” katanya.

Menurut data UNWTO, kedatangan turis internasional telah meningkat di semua wilayah sejak awal 2018, melanjutkan tren yang kuat dari tahun-tahun sebelumnya. Hasil yang signifikan dipimpin oleh Asia dan Pasifik, terutama Asia Tenggara (+ 10%) dan Asia Selatan (+ 9%), yang melampaui perolehan 2017, di mana Asia mencapai peningkatan 6% dalam kedatangan turis internasional.  Sebuah perolehan yang signifikan, mengingat bahwa Asia Pasifik mewakili sekitar 29% bagian dari penerimaan pariwisata internasional.

Sebagaimana diketahui, Vynn Capital adalah perusahaan modal ventura tahap awal yang berfokus pada peluang di Asia Tenggara.  Perusahaan ini memiliki pengalaman berinvestasi di seluruh Asia, dengan investasi di perusahaan-perusahaan seperti Triip.me, Carsome, Hermo dan lain-lain. Perusahaan ini berfokus pada menjembatani kesenjangan pengetahuan dan pengalaman antara pemain industri dan startup, dalam industri seperti travelling, properti, makanan & FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Good), ekonomi wanita, logistik dan pengiriman barang. Vynn Capital mendorong kemitraan kuat perusahaan dengan perusahaan teknologi, serta sinergi antar perusahaan dalam menciptakan nilai lebih bagi ekosistem. (Joko Susilo)

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Asean Digest: Vynn Capital, UNWTO pact; Plug and Play adds Krung Thai as partner

While early-stage venture capital firm Vynn Capital has partnered with World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), global accelerator Plug and Play has added Krung Thai Bank as a founding anchor partner for its Singapore fintech programme. Vynn Capital pairs up with UNWTO to push digital agenda Early-stage venture capital firm Vynn Capital has partnered with World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to promote the tourism sector of Southeast Asia by facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation, said the VC firm in an announcement today. Both will collaborate to create a framework to support tech startups addressing opportunities and challenges in the tourism sector as well as working with traditional industry players including hotel and property groups, food companies to adopt digital strategies. “These partnerships are key to continue generating opportunities for all through tourism, and proof that venture capital has a role to play when we want to advance sustainable development,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili. Southeast Asia-focused Vynn Capital is raising a $40-million debut fund and has made two investments into Indonesia-based travel platform Travelio and Malaysia-based used car platform Carsome. Plug and Play ropes in Krung Thai Bank for fintech programme Silicon Valley-based global accelerator Plug and Play has added another partner, Krung Thai Bank, as a founding anchor partner for its Singapore fintech programme, it said in an announcement yesterday. State-owned Krung Thai Bank (KTB) has been tasked to lead the 3 billion baht government VC fund to encourage technology adoption among Thai enterprises. “As the first Thai bank partnering with Plug & Play, this is an important step in KTB’s strategy to become digitally advanced through financial innovation with startups and working with other financial industry stakeholders. These partners can help KTB nurture startups and build the company through the continuous pursuit of innovation. It encourages constructive thinking and sustainable business building, and allows startups to connect and partner with a global powerhouse”, said Krung Thai Bank president and CEO, Payong Srivanich. Launched in Singapore in 2010, Plug and Play has since invested in more than 30 startups and collaborated with various Singaporean and Indonesian government agencies as well as multinational and regional corporations to run industry-specific accelerator programmes.

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Championing Southeast Asia tourism, Vynn Capital partners with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations

Prisca Akhaya
e27
Championing Southeast Asia tourism, Vynn Capital partners with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations

Vynn Capital partners with the World Tourism Organization to promote Southeast Asia’s tourism sector through entrepreneurship and innovation

Today Vynn Capital, a Southeast Asia-based early-stage venture capital firm and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced a strategic partnership to promote Southeast Asia’s tourism sector by facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation.

Vynn Capital and UNWTO will collaborate to create a framework and policies to support technology startups that focus on opportunities and challenges in the region’s tourism sector.

Both parties will work together to encourage traditional industry players such as hotel groups, property groups and food companies to adopt digital strategy as well as encourage more investments by the private sector into technology companies. Vynn Capital will support the objectives of UNWTO as a partner on initiatives to achieve these goals.

“The tourism sector represents a huge opportunity, especially for Southeast Asia, where we see the emergence of a strong middle class. Vynn Capital has identified tourism as one of the key investment space for us, and we will continue to work with entrepreneurs and industry players to promote the region’s tourism sector,” said Victor Chua, Founding and Managing Partner of Vynn Capital and Chairman of the Malaysia Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (MVCA).

Also Read: This Philippine-based startup is going head-to-head with Eatigo; raises US$2.3M via IPO

Chua brought up the examples of Indonesia’s Travelio and Carsome as notable startups that have found success across Southeast Asia. These type of companies will receive full support from the initiative as they represent the economic impact of tourism growth.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili pointed to the needed digital transformation of tourism as the reasons to partner with Vynn Capital.

“These partnerships are key to continue generating opportunities for all through tourism, and proof that venture capital has a role to play when we want to advance sustainable development,” he said.

Also Read: Thailand online fulfillment service Sokochan is heading to Malaysia

UNWTO reported that since the start of 2018, international arrivals have increased in all regions across Asia. Tourism in Southeast Asia increased by 10 per cent and South Asia by 9 per cent.

Photo by Diem Nhi Nguyen on Unsplash

The post Championing Southeast Asia tourism, Vynn Capital partners with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations appeared first on e27.

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Vynn Capital Partners with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations to Boost Asia’s Tourism Sector

KUALA LUMPUR, presidentpost.id – Vynn Capital, a Southeast Asia-based early-stage venture capital firm and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) today jointly announced a strategic partnership to promote Southeast Asia’s tourism sector by facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation, Wednesday (8/8).

Through this strategic partnership, Vynn Capital and UNWTO will collaborate to create a framework and policies to support technology startups that are addressing opportunities and challenges in the region’s tourism sector. Both parties will work together to encourage traditional industry players such as hotel groups, property groups and food companies to adopt digital strategy as well as encourage more investments by the private sector into technology companies.

Vynn Capital will support the objectives of UNWTO and act as a partner on initiatives to achieve these goals, by supporting tourism entrepreneurs and traditional industry players as the tourism market embraces technology and innovation.

“The tourism sector represents a huge opportunity, especially for Southeast Asia, where we see the emergence of a strong middle class. Vynn Capital has identified tourism as one of the key investment space for us, and we will continue to work with entrepreneurs and industry players to promote the region’s tourism sector. We believe technology companies that focuses of the mobility of consumers such as Indonesia’s Travelio and Carsome, who already has operations in four key countries in Southeast Asia, will continue to be champions that represent the economic impact of tourism growth. We join hands with UNWTO to foster a new generation of innovative tourism companies in Southeast Asia,“ said Victor Chua, Founding and Managing Partner of Vynn Capital and Chairman of the Malaysia Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (MVCA).

“UNWTO is proud to partner with Vynn Capital, who will help us to generate real solutions for the much needed digital transformation of tourism These partnerships are key to continue generating opportunities for all through tourism, and proof that venture capital has a role to play when we want to advance sustainable development” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.

According to UNWTO, international arrivals have increased in all regions since the start of 2018, continuing the strong trend of previous years. The strong results are led by Asia and the Pacific (+8%), especially South-East Asia (+10%) and South Asia (+9%), already surpassing 2017 results, here Asia saw a 6% increase in international arrivals. This is significant, considering that Asia Pacific represents around 29% of the share for international tourism receipts.

Currently Vynn Capital has three advisors, pioneer in the advertising industry in Malaysia Tan Sri Vincent Lee, Chairman of Jababeka Group in Indonesia S.D. Darmono and CEO of Pacific Travel Association (PATA) in Thailand Dr. Mario Hardy. (TPP)

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Championing Southeast Asia tourism, Vynn Capital partners with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations

Vynn Capital partners with the World Tourism Organization to promote Southeast Asia’s tourism sector through entrepreneurship and innovation


Today Vynn Capital, a Southeast Asia-based early-stage venture capital firm and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced a strategic partnership to promote Southeast Asia’s tourism sector by facilitating entrepreneurship and innovation.

Vynn Capital and UNWTO will collaborate to create a framework and policies to support technology startups that focus on opportunities and challenges in the region’s tourism sector.

Both parties will work together to encourage traditional industry players such as hotel groups, property groups and food companies to adopt digital strategy as well as encourage more investments by the private sector into technology companies. Vynn Capital will support the objectives of UNWTO as a partner on initiatives to achieve these goals.

“The tourism sector represents a huge opportunity, especially for Southeast Asia, where we see the emergence of a strong middle class. Vynn Capital has identified tourism as one of the key investment space for us, and we will continue to work with entrepreneurs and industry players to promote the region’s tourism sector,” said Victor Chua, Founding and Managing Partner of Vynn Capital and Chairman of the Malaysia Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (MVCA).

Also Read: This Philippine-based startup is going head-to-head with Eatigo; raises US$2.3M via IPO

Chua brought up the examples of Indonesia’s Travelio and Carsome as notable startups that have found success across Southeast Asia. These type of companies will receive full support from the initiative as they represent the economic impact of tourism growth.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili pointed to the needed digital transformation of tourism as the reasons to partner with Vynn Capital.

“These partnerships are key to continue generating opportunities for all through tourism, and proof that venture capital has a role to play when we want to advance sustainable development,” he said.

Also Read: Thailand online fulfillment service Sokochan is heading to Malaysia

UNWTO reported that since the start of 2018, international arrivals have increased in all regions across Asia. Tourism in Southeast Asia increased by 10 per cent and South Asia by 9 per cent.

Source

The next big thing: 10 Malaysian startups to watch in 2018

The ASEAN is not only the world’s seventh-largest economy, but it’s also the fastest-growing internet market, and tech companies in the region are racing to scale.

Malaysia is home to several such companies, thanks to support from government agencies, venture capitalists, and accelerators.

A look at Tech in Asia‘s recent funding reveals growing support for players in niche markets, such as flower delivery and student housing. We looked at 10 companies that completed funding rounds in 2017 and 2018, mostly from seed to series B.

1. Carsome

Carsome co-founders Eric Cheng (L) and Teoh Jiun Ee

Total funding amount: $27.4 million

Lead investors: Burda Principal Investments

Latest funding type: Series B

Competitors: iCar AsiaCarro and Carmudi

Launched in 2015, Carsome is a selling platform that also functions like a broker for cars. Anyone who needs to sell a car can get in touch with the company, which will inspect the vehicle for free and assess its value. The platform assures customers that the pricing is totally transparent and free of hidden charges and markups. To prove this, it allows the seller to log in and view live bidding results.

As a bonus, Carsome handles all paperwork, which it promises to complete within five days.

In 2016, the company expanded operations to Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. Carsome faces the challenge of differentiation from its competitors, which have raised larger amount of funding.

2. Iflix

iFlix gets $45m funding in battle against Netflix

Photo credit: Iflix

Total funding amount: $298 million

Lead investors: Hearst CommunicationsJungle Ventures, Malaysia’s Catcha GroupSky, and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company

Latest funding type: Series D

Competitors: HooqViuViki, and Netflix.

Iflix offers video-on-demand (VOD) services in Asia and Africa, where the app is available in 25 countries. The key to achieving this is the app’s availability in 14 languages, including English, Chinese, Burmese, Arabic, and Swahili. Since its founding in 2014, Iflix has managed to ink 230 studio partnerships.

In its latest funding round in 2017, Iflix raised $133 million from 13 investors. While Iflix has found success in partnering with local telecom companies and enabling smartphone downloads, its competitors have emulated this strategy.

This has increased the need for differentiation. In 2017, Iflix joined the live sports streaming business. This year, it announced a free video-streaming service supported by ads.

3. BloomThis

Total funding amount: $800,000

Lead investors: Singapore’s REAPRA and US-based consulting company Venture Builders.

Latest funding type: Seed

Competitors: 50 Gram

Who knew flowers could drive a hot startup? BloomThis is an online shop of “designer flowers and gifts.”

The flowers can be delivered on demand when ordered by 1:00 pm except on Sundays, as the flower supply chain tends to slow down on weekends. BloomThis also offers a weekly subscription service.

In 2017, BloomThis raised seed funding of $600,000 for expansion to Indonesia and Singapore.

4. PurelyB

The PurelyB team

Total funding amount: $800,000

Lead investors: 500 Startups, Brunsfield Ventures

Latest funding type: Equity crowdfunding (pre-series A funding round)

PurelyB is a one-stop portal offering everything women need to know about living healthy lifestyles. It offers articles, recipes, and videos in English and Chinese, and sell health programs complete with meal delivery.

In May 2016, PurelyB launched a marketplace, but it was eventually shut down after eight months after the company made a discovery: users treated it more as a source of product recommendations and went shopping elsewhere.

PurelyB has since narrowed their focus to content, adding a subscription model to the free articles and videos on the website.

In 2017, PurelyB launched an equity crowdfunding campaign, which started with a private round for existing members before being offered to the public. Share price was set a $5.35 (RM23) per unit, and the campaign raised a total of $300,000.

After expansion to Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, PurelyB plans to enter Dubai and Australia.

5. Supahands

Total funding amount: Undisclosed

Lead investors: Intres Capital Partners, Axiata, 500 Startups

Latest funding type: Seed round

Competitors: Datarama and Jakarta’s Oxide.

Supahands offers to perform tedious and repetitive machine learning, data management, and content moderation tasks for companies. It’s positioned in the space between freelancer marketplaces and BPOs.

One key differentiation point for Supahands is the combination of software and human involvement. Another unique point for Supahands is that it also offers tools for project management, work automation, and autorouting.

Formed in 2014, it has provided services to a medical technology company, music-streaming app, and telecom service provider, among others. Its other clients include Grab and iCarAsia.

Over the past three years, Supahands has enjoyed a compound annual growth rate of 400 percent.

It plans to scale its workforce across ASEAN this year and hopes to begin expansion to India or China. This larger workforce would enable the startup to serve companies across the region with different cultures and languages.

6. HostelHunting

The co-founders of HostelHunting.com

HostelHunting’s co-founders / Photo credit: HostelHunting

Total funding amount: Undisclosed

Lead investors: Hoop PartnersAccord Ventures and KK Fund

Latest funding type: Series A

Competitors: GomfyStudent.com and XchangeHousing

Operating in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, the platform acts like an Airbnb for student accommodation. HostelHunting takes a service fee for each successful booking.

It’s looking to expand the platform’s operations to other markets in Southeast Asia.

7. Wobb

Photo credit: Wobb

Total funding amount: $398,300

Lead investors: Cradle Fund

Latest funding type: Venture – series unknown

Competitors: JobstreetStartupJobsMaukerja, and TribeHired

Wobb is a recruitment app focused on attracting young professionals. The platform highlights companies’ work cultures vy showing photos of office interiors and featuring current employees. This enables job seekers to assess culture fit with potential employers even before sending in an application.

With a database of more than 60,000 job seekers, Wobb relies on an advertising model. The company said in 2017 that revenue had surpassed $469,000.

After signing up, job seekers receive an invitation to meet Wobb’s founder, Derek Toh, over coffee. Toh used to be a director at recruitment firm Robert Walters in Malaysia before founding Wobb in 2014.

Wobb raised $398,300 (RM1,700,741) in a venture round via the crowdfunding platform pitchIN in 2017. As many as 76 participants made equity investments. RM800,000 came from Cradle Fund, a Malaysian government agency that invests in the early stage of startups.

8. Kaodim

Kaodim team photo

The Kaodim team / Photo credit: Kaodim

Total funding amount: $11.6 million

Lead investors: Square Peg Capital

Latest funding type: Series B

Competitors: ServisHeroFlagAHero

The Kaodim platform matches service seekers with pre-screened and qualified providers. The services it offers range from pest control, plumbing, and photography to catering, cleaning, and fitness coaching.

Within four months of launching, over $10M worth of sales had reportedly been gained through the platform, and more than 20,000 customers had been matched with service providers.

Kaodim charges $1 to $6 (RM3 to MR20) to suppliers when they post proposals and respond to requests. Customers need not pay to use the platform.

In 2017, Kaodim raised $7 million in a series B round.

The company claims to have the highest revenue among service-hiring platforms across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

9. Jirnexu

Jirnexu team photo

The Jirnexu team / Photo credit: Jirnexu

Total funding amount: $17 million

Lead investors: SIG ChinaSBI GroupCento Ventures, and Celebes Capital.

Latest funding type: Series B

Competitors: iMoneyMoneySmart

Formerly known as Saving Plus, Jirnexu offers financial institutions a full-stack fintech solution. It began with offering financial comparison websites, but it eventually evolved to a streamlined process that allows customers to select and apply for financial products with ease.

Most of the company’s revenue comes from Malaysia. Jirnexu’s revenue grew by 100 percent from 2016 to 2017, and it expects to report the same this year. But while it almost reached profitability in 2017, it’s focusing on growth strategies like launching products, says CEO and founder Yuen Tuck Siew.

Its series B round in May attracted $11 million.

Jirnexu has an edge in that it deals with both back- and front-end work – it provides information to customers, but it also works with financial institutions.

10. iPrice

iprice on laptop

Photo credit: iPrice

Total funding amount: $9.8 million

Lead investors: Line Corporation

Latest funding type: Series B

Another price comparison platform, iPrice gathers information on product availability and pricing from various e-commerce websites, like Lazada and Shopee. It also aggregates products from clothing e-tailers such as Zalora and ASOS.

By doing so, it aims to be a one-stop shopping destination for shoppers all over Southeast Asia.

The startup says it’s on track to reach more than 150 million visitors this year. Apart from Malaysia and Indonesia, iPrice operates in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Its series B round this year raised $4 million.

Apart from building a large consumer base and leveraging Southeast Asians’ growing adoption of ecommerce, iPrice has formed B2B partnerships, such as with Samsung in Indonesia and Mediacorp in Singapore.

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The next big thing: 10 Malaysian startups to watch in 2018

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The ASEAN is not only the world’s seventh-largest economy, but it’s also the fastest-growing internet market, and tech companies in the region are racing to scale.

Malaysia is home to several such companies, thanks to support from government agencies, venture capitalists, and accelerators.

A look at Tech in Asia‘s recent funding reveals growing support for players in niche markets, such as flower delivery and student housing. We looked at 10 companies that completed funding rounds in 2017 and 2018, mostly from seed to series B.

1. Carsome

Carsome co-founders Eric Cheng (L) and Teoh Jiun Ee

Total funding amount: $27.4 million

Lead investors: Burda Principal Investments

Latest funding type: Series B

Competitors: iCar AsiaCarro and Carmudi

Launched in 2015, Carsome is a selling platform that also functions like a broker for cars. Anyone who needs to sell a car can get in touch with the company, which will inspect the vehicle for free and assess its value. The platform assures customers that the pricing is totally transparent and free of hidden charges and markups. To prove this, it allows the seller to log in and view live bidding results.

As a bonus, Carsome handles all paperwork, which it promises to complete within five days.

In 2016, the company expanded operations to Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore. Carsome faces the challenge of differentiation from its competitors, which have raised larger amount of funding.

2. Iflix

iFlix gets $45m funding in battle against Netflix

Photo credit: Iflix

Total funding amount: $298 million

Lead investors: Hearst CommunicationsJungle Ventures, Malaysia’s Catcha GroupSky, and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company

Latest funding type: Series D

Competitors: HooqViuViki, and Netflix.

Iflix offers video-on-demand (VOD) services in Asia and Africa, where the app is available in 25 countries. The key to achieving this is the app’s availability in 14 languages, including English, Chinese, Burmese, Arabic, and Swahili. Since its founding in 2014, Iflix has managed to ink 230 studio partnerships.

In its latest funding round in 2017, Iflix raised $133 million from 13 investors. While Iflix has found success in partnering with local telecom companies and enabling smartphone downloads, its competitors have emulated this strategy.

This has increased the need for differentiation. In 2017, Iflix joined the live sports streaming business. This year, it announced a free video-streaming service supported by ads.

3. BloomThis

Total funding amount: $800,000

Lead investors: Singapore’s REAPRA and US-based consulting company Venture Builders.

Latest funding type: Seed

Competitors: 50 Gram

Who knew flowers could drive a hot startup? BloomThis is an online shop of “designer flowers and gifts.”

The flowers can be delivered on demand when ordered by 1:00 pm except on Sundays, as the flower supply chain tends to slow down on weekends. BloomThis also offers a weekly subscription service.

In 2017, BloomThis raised seed funding of $600,000 for expansion to Indonesia and Singapore.

4. PurelyB

The PurelyB team

Total funding amount: $800,000

Lead investors: 500 Startups, Brunsfield Ventures

Latest funding type: Equity crowdfunding (pre-series A funding round)

PurelyB is a one-stop portal offering everything women need to know about living healthy lifestyles. It offers articles, recipes, and videos in English and Chinese, and sell health programs complete with meal delivery.

In May 2016, PurelyB launched a marketplace, but it was eventually shut down after eight months after the company made a discovery: users treated it more as a source of product recommendations and went shopping elsewhere.

PurelyB has since narrowed their focus to content, adding a subscription model to the free articles and videos on the website.

In 2017, PurelyB launched an equity crowdfunding campaign, which started with a private round for existing members before being offered to the public. Share price was set a $5.35 (RM23) per unit, and the campaign raised a total of $300,000.

After expansion to Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, PurelyB plans to enter Dubai and Australia.

5. Supahands

Total funding amount: Undisclosed

Lead investors: Intres Capital Partners, Axiata, 500 Startups

Latest funding type: Seed round

Competitors: Datarama and Jakarta’s Oxide.

Supahands offers to perform tedious and repetitive machine learning, data management, and content moderation tasks for companies. It’s positioned in the space between freelancer marketplaces and BPOs.

One key differentiation point for Supahands is the combination of software and human involvement. Another unique point for Supahands is that it also offers tools for project management, work automation, and autorouting.

Formed in 2014, it has provided services to a medical technology company, music-streaming app, and telecom service provider, among others. Its other clients include Grab and iCarAsia.

Over the past three years, Supahands has enjoyed a compound annual growth rate of 400 percent.

It plans to scale its workforce across ASEAN this year and hopes to begin expansion to India or China. This larger workforce would enable the startup to serve companies across the region with different cultures and languages.

6. HostelHunting

The co-founders of HostelHunting.com

HostelHunting’s co-founders / Photo credit: HostelHunting

Total funding amount: Undisclosed

Lead investors: Hoop PartnersAccord Ventures and KK Fund

Latest funding type: Series A

Competitors: GomfyStudent.com and XchangeHousing

Operating in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, the platform acts like an Airbnb for student accommodation. HostelHunting takes a service fee for each successful booking.

It’s looking to expand the platform’s operations to other markets in Southeast Asia.

7. Wobb

Photo credit: Wobb

Total funding amount: $398,300

Lead investors: Cradle Fund

Latest funding type: Venture – series unknown

Competitors: JobstreetStartupJobsMaukerja, and TribeHired

Wobb is a recruitment app focused on attracting young professionals. The platform highlights companies’ work cultures vy showing photos of office interiors and featuring current employees. This enables job seekers to assess culture fit with potential employers even before sending in an application.

With a database of more than 60,000 job seekers, Wobb relies on an advertising model. The company said in 2017 that revenue had surpassed $469,000.

After signing up, job seekers receive an invitation to meet Wobb’s founder, Derek Toh, over coffee. Toh used to be a director at recruitment firm Robert Walters in Malaysia before founding Wobb in 2014.

Wobb raised $398,300 (RM1,700,741) in a venture round via the crowdfunding platform pitchIN in 2017. As many as 76 participants made equity investments. RM800,000 came from Cradle Fund, a Malaysian government agency that invests in the early stage of startups.

8. Kaodim

Kaodim team photo

The Kaodim team / Photo credit: Kaodim

Total funding amount: $11.6 million

Lead investors: Square Peg Capital

Latest funding type: Series B

Competitors: ServisHeroFlagAHero

The Kaodim platform matches service seekers with pre-screened and qualified providers. The services it offers range from pest control, plumbing, and photography to catering, cleaning, and fitness coaching.

Within four months of launching, over $10M worth of sales had reportedly been gained through the platform, and more than 20,000 customers had been matched with service providers.

Kaodim charges $1 to $6 (RM3 to MR20) to suppliers when they post proposals and respond to requests. Customers need not pay to use the platform.

In 2017, Kaodim raised $7 million in a series B round.

The company claims to have the highest revenue among service-hiring platforms across Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

9. Jirnexu

Jirnexu team photo

The Jirnexu team / Photo credit: Jirnexu

Total funding amount: $17 million

Lead investors: SIG ChinaSBI GroupCento Ventures, and Celebes Capital.

Latest funding type: Series B

Competitors: iMoneyMoneySmart

Formerly known as Saving Plus, Jirnexu offers financial institutions a full-stack fintech solution. It began with offering financial comparison websites, but it eventually evolved to a streamlined process that allows customers to select and apply for financial products with ease.

Most of the company’s revenue comes from Malaysia. Jirnexu’s revenue grew by 100 percent from 2016 to 2017, and it expects to report the same this year. But while it almost reached profitability in 2017, it’s focusing on growth strategies like launching products, says CEO and founder Yuen Tuck Siew.

Its series B round in May attracted $11 million.

Jirnexu has an edge in that it deals with both back- and front-end work – it provides information to customers, but it also works with financial institutions.

10. iPrice

iprice on laptop

Photo credit: iPrice

Total funding amount: $9.8 million

Lead investors: Line Corporation

Latest funding type: Series B

Another price comparison platform, iPrice gathers information on product availability and pricing from various e-commerce websites, like Lazada and Shopee. It also aggregates products from clothing e-tailers such as Zalora and ASOS.

By doing so, it aims to be a one-stop shopping destination for shoppers all over Southeast Asia.

The startup says it’s on track to reach more than 150 million visitors this year. Apart from Malaysia and Indonesia, iPrice operates in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Its series B round this year raised $4 million.

Apart from building a large consumer base and leveraging Southeast Asians’ growing adoption of ecommerce, iPrice has formed B2B partnerships, such as with Samsung in Indonesia and Mediacorp in Singapore.

Online to Offline

Online to offline
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Small businesses strive to keep pace with digitisation and find new opportunities through online marketplaces.

Technology and digital disruption are compelling companies of all sizes in all industries to adapt and innovate. The world has seen how even multinationals that once enjoyed enviable success can wither or perish if they fail to keep up — from Eastman Kodak to Blockbuster or even technology companies such as Yahoo, Nokia and Motorola.

But the reality is that there are a huge number of enterprises that find it difficult to connect their physical offline business to the digital world, given their lack of research and development (R&D),…

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