#Asia This startup uses space-age tech to lower costs for fish farmers, and it just got funded

//

The Umitron team

The Umitron team / Photo credit: Umitron

Internet-of-Things (IoT) and data analytics startup Umitron is up to some fishy business. Based in Singapore and Japan, the young company helps fish farms optimize their feeding practices through data and AI, helping them lower their costs and prevent waste and damage to the environment.

It sounds like a worthy cause to put money into, and sure enough, Umitron today announced it raised a seed round worth US$8.2 million.

Umitron uses a combination of underwater sensors and data analytics to monitor fish activity in fish farms. Running the data through a proprietary algorithm, the startup claims to detect when fish are actually hungry, allowing the farmer to dispense the right amount of feed at the right time.

Umitron feels its product can help lower costs for fish farmers, for whom feeding is more than 70 percent of their expenditure, says managing director Masahiko Yamada. It can also have an environmental impact, as excess fish feed can create problems like eutrophication – increased nutrients in the water that imbalance marine ecosystems.

Yamada tells Tech in Asia that one of the key challenges in its approach is getting IoT technology to work underwater. Out there, it’s tough to get stable, reliable data connections and access to power.

That’s where the founding team’s training comes in: co-founders Yamada and Ken Fujiwara are aerospace engineers and have previously worked on satellite technology, while co-founder Takuma Okamoto is a software engineer. Problems like connectivity and power apply to space as well, so the team thought about how to implement some of the same lessons.

As a result, Umitron uses edge computing principles – this way, a lot of the data analytics and processing is done locally on the device installed at the fish farm, rather than being sent to a server. Data is compressed and sent out to the startup’s server in regular packages, so there’s no need for a continuous, stable connection. Solar panels provide power, allowing the team to control power consumption according to each location’s needs.

Umitron's system at an aquaculture farm

Umitron’s system deployed at a fish farm / Photo credit: Umitron

A lot of fish in the sea

Growth in the global aquaculture market has convinced Umitron that this is the right time for its product. The market was estimated to be worth US$176.45 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to US$219.42 billion by 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 4.46 percent according to a report by US firm Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence.

This is driven by factors including increased awareness of the nutritional benefits of seafood, rising demand for goods like fish oil in various industries, and the shrinking of naturally available fishing locations due to overfishing.

As expected, startup activity in the sector is ramping up. In Norway, a startup accelerator called Hatch, that focuses on aquaculture, is holding its first demo day on June 28. Netherlands-based venture fund AquaSpark has invested in over 12 companies in the aquaculture and agritech space since its inception in 2015, in deals ranging from US$290,000 to US$5.8 million.

Yamada says that Umitron doesn’t have a direct competitor at the moment, because it’s difficult to create and run such a standalone IoT system. Other companies using IoT tech to monitor fish feeding include a young Indian startup called AquaSoul, but its solution is aimed at smaller fish ponds.

A US company called Aquaai offers monitoring and analytics services for aquaculture farms using fish-like drones that integrate into fish populations and gather data. Aquaaai calls it “fish-as-a-service,” appropriately enough.

The team will use the new funding to hire more engineers and data scientists, and to mass produce and improve Umigarden, its fish feeding monitoring service. It will also ramp up its research and development capabilities.

Yamada declined to disclose details about the startup’s current clients, but says that its initial projects have 100 percent retention rate and the company is seeing increased interest.

The round was led by the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, an investment corporation by the Japanese government and 19 major Japanese corporations. It was also joined by D4V, a Tokyo-based venture capital firm in collaboration with US-based design and innovation company Ideo. Some angel investors also participated.

Umitron was the winning startup at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2017 Arena pitching contest.

This post This startup uses space-age tech to lower costs for fish farmers, and it just got funded appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2tkhCvY

#Asia Asia news roundup: Meituan beats Ctrip at its own game, Taobao goes rural, and more

//

A Rural Taobao service center in Kang County / Image credit: Tech in Asia

In today’s news, Taobao taps China’s rural counties, South Korea commits millions to blockchain investments, and Clinivantage, Helian Health, and Umitron bag funding.

Ecommerce

Rural regions to see more of Taobao (China). Alibaba’s ecommerce platform Taobao is looking to expand to 1,000 counties and 150,000 villages in the country’s rural areas over the next three years. Launched in October 2014, Rural Taobao currently covers 700 counties with over 30,000 service centers where villagers can buy and sell items online. The group says it wants to connect the countryside with cities through this initiative, adding that around half of China’s 1.3 billion people are rural dwellers. (Alibaba)

Online travel agency Cleartrip buys Saudi Arabian travel startup Flyin (India). The purchase is the first cross-border acquisition for the Mumbai-based company, as it looks to expand into West Asia’s travel market. Subject to regulatory approval, the transaction is said to be worth up to US$70 million. Cleartrip said the combination of the two firms will give it a 60 percent market share in the region. Flyin says it has more than 320,000 hotels serving 450 airlines on its portal while Cleartrip claims it sells more than 10 million flight tickets and 1.5 million hotel room nights every year. (Livemint)

Meituan-Dianping surpasses Ctrip in hotel bookings (China). From January to March, Meituan accounted for a 45.5 percent market share in hotel bookings, compared online travel agent Ctrip’s 22 percent, according to information from data analytics firm TrustData. Last year, the company’s hotel bookings hit two billion, a big jump compared to its 45 million bookings three years ago. Meituan bought booking service provider Kuxun.com from Expedia’s TripAdvisor in 2015. (KrAsia)

Agtech

Umitron nets US$8.2 million (Singapore). The “aquatech” company will use the funding to strengthen its existing offerings and boost research and development. Participants in the latest funding round include the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Design for Ventures by IDEO, and several unnamed angel investors. Its first product UmiGarden, a remote IoT fish feeder which allows supervision of fish farms online, was unveiled earlier this month. Umitron won the Arena startup pitch battle at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2017, pocketing the US$4,500 top prize. (Umitron)

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Government eyes US$200 million in blockchain investments (South Korea). With plans to groom 10,000 blockchain industry professionals and 100 firms, the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT aims to raise the sum by 2022. The project aligns with ongoing blockchain pilots that the ministry has backed, which focus on real estate, shipping and logistics, customs clearance, and livestock record management, among other segments. The announcement comes in the wake of recent hacking incidents involving cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, where the equivalent of about US$70 million was stolen. (CoinTelegraph)

Tencent, Huobi, and other institutions form blockchain security alliance (China). The group was formed with a view towards sustainability and security, on the back of growing expectations tied to the technology’s performance and rising interest from government-tied institutions. Last year, China saw 225 blockchain patents – more than twice the amount for the US. Just within the first 30 days of this year, the country’s blockchain industry secured almost US$105 million in investments, research showed. (TechNode)

blockhain-bitcoin-blue

Photo credit: Xresch

Health and well-being

Helian Health raises US$75 million in SenseTime-led series B round (China). The startup will use the funds to build on its technical capabilities in the areas of AI, internet of things and big data. The round, led by AI unicorn Sensetime and backed by other investors such as Hangzhou Lianchuan Investment and Wanxiang Investment, brings the company’s valuation to US$900 million. Set up in 2013, the firm says it supplies WiFi to over 1,700 hospitals in China. Two of its health recording apps – Xiaohe Yizhu and Hejiankang – have served over 97 million patients and 1.4 million doctors. (DealStreetAsia)

Clinivantage gets US$1 million funding (India). With funds from US-based Metaform Ventures, the healthcare startup will use the money for its expansion plans and product development. Set up in 2016, Clinivantage claims to have more than 6.5 million consumers on its HealthHuddle.in platform, with over 5,000 registered outpatient clinics. Its other platform MyLife has records of over 10 million users. (Inc42)

Delivery and logistics

Zomato in discussions to raise US$400 million (India). Nipping on the heels of archrival Swiggy – which secured US$210 million in funding plus unicorn status earlier this week – food-delivery firm Zomato is reported to be in talks to raise funds from existing investors Ant Financial and Temasek. The prospective funding could bring the company’s valuation to as much as US$2 billion. Zomato operates in 23 countries and transacts around US$13.4 million-worth of orders every month. (Livemint)

Startup ecosystem

Freelancers can now get insured (Singapore). GigaCover revealed its first on-demand income protection insurance for workers in the gig economy, calling it a “first of its kind” and the “only one” in the country. Called freelancer income protection insurance (FLIP), interested parties can buy it on a weekly, monthly or annual basis, at a beginner’s price from S$2. GigaCover claims it allows flexibility as customers can change or stop their coverage anytime, with no extra fees. The underwriter for FLIP is Etiqa Insurance. (GigaCover)

Investors, incubators, and accelerators

Blockchain startup incubator Bluehill launches US$50 million fund (China). To support the IOST protocol blockchain network, the incubator is looking to put in about US$500,000 per project, with an initial funding of US$100,000. Follow-on investments for the projects could be in the low millions, Bluehill added. The incubator also said it is open to projects that are not built on the IOST platform, noting that it will work with Binance Labs and Huobi Capital to invest in startups. Bluehill has already invested in seven decentralized application projects so far, with two of them built on IOST. (IOST)

See: Previous Asia tech news roundups

This post Asia news roundup: Meituan beats Ctrip at its own game, Taobao goes rural, and more appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2K0xfDm

#Asia 9GAG co-founder Ray Chan reveals the differences between 500 Startups and YCombinator

//

Speaking at the Tech in Asia 2015 conference in Singapore, Ray Chan shared how his experiences at 500 Startups and YCombinator helped him build the viral media powerhouse 9GAG.

This post 9GAG co-founder Ray Chan reveals the differences between 500 Startups and YCombinator appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2Idqecl

#Asia Apple, Google, Amazon: Garage startups rule the world, and here’s why

//

A workshop in a garage. Image courtesy: Unsplash

The following is an edited excerpt taken from Entresutra, on the shoulders of foxes: A hedgehog on entrepreneurship and motivation, authored by Soumodip Sarkar. The excerpt is published courtesy of Bloomsbury.

The garage metaphor is evocative and synonymous with the entrepreneurial phenomenon. The “garage” conjures an image of bootstrap dynamism and success, so much so that a very prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm headed by co-founder Guy Kawasaki has been christened Garage Technology Ventures.

While the startup “garage” culture is much more ingrained in the United States than elsewhere, many European and Japanese giants can also trace their origins to such humble spaces. Surprisingly even India, a country that doesn’t boast of many garages to begin with, has its own garage story.

India’s large biopharmaceutical company, Biocon had started out in a garage of a rented house in Bangalore, in 1978. With a seed capital of Rs 10000 (less than $200), entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar Shaw set up a company which today has revenues inching towards the half a billion-dollar mark.

The garage metaphor operates at both the level of the entrepreneurial psyche, as well as at a subtler and important level, in terms of the role that the “garage” plays in the entrepreneurial process. Holistically, the “garage” can be read along at least four different dimensions.

The garage as a goal

First, the “garage” represents an inspirational ideal. It is a metaphor that symbolizes the dynamism of the early prototypical phase of entrepreneurship. This phase involves some fundamental aspects of the entrepreneurial path—grit, hard work, independence, the freedom of working for oneself, humble origins, as well as old-fashioned ingenuity.

We can safely say that a startup can be seeded and nurtured in other unlikely and unpretentious places as well

startups from garages, and other unassuming places like the garage, permit us to delve into the following question. What does a startup really need in terms of the supporting infrastructure? As we have seen, the early, mostly prototypical stage of many of today’s giant enterprises, had been incubated in garages, basements, dorm rooms, bedrooms, kitchens etc., we can safely say that a startup can be seeded and nurtured in other unlikely and unpretentious places as well.

In strategic terms, the location and the cost of the ‘incubator’ can be far more important than the actual size, the condition or the elegance of the place. The smaller bootstrap the startup costs, the lesser the strains on the fledgling enterprise.

The garage as independence

The iconic Google garage. Image courtesy: Flickr

Second, this also enables the entrepreneur to delay the often inevitable roping in of external funds, such as from business angels or venture capitalists.

This bare-essentials strategy can be seen in the case of Google. Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, actually moved into the Menlo Park garage in 1998, after having managed to convince Sun co-founder, Andy Bechtolsheim to write out a cheque. With the money and the confidence that came from this important mentor, they could easily have had opted to go in for a space more than a garage, but they didn’t.

The startup space should be a part of an integral bootstrapping strategy of the entrepreneur

The incubating space need not be physically very comfortable or attractive, and yet should give the entrepreneur enough freedom to not have to worry unduly about high rents. The startup space should, therefore, be a part of an integral bootstrapping strategy of the entrepreneur. A strategy and philosophy that if sustained throughout the growth stages, can well serve the entrepreneur.

Financial bootstrapping is an art, a powerful resource for the entrepreneur. The capacity for ‘creative imagination’ is a typical characteristic of entrepreneurs and should be reflected in small business innovation. Bootstrapping finance involves the use of resources to start and grow a venture at the lowest possible or even at no cost.

The prototypical startup phase can be incubated in an unassuming place such as a garage, and this one such bootstrapping technique. A strategy and philosophy that if sustained throughout the growth stages, can serve the entrepreneur well.

The garage as effectual reasoning

A workshop in a garage. Image courtesy: Unsplash

A third dimension from which we should view the “garage” prism has to do with what the entrepreneurial process really involves. Stories of entrepreneurship and most academic accounts of the entrepreneurial process, tend to present it as different steps taken in a strategic universe. In this universe, an entrepreneur sets out with a goal to achieve, and draws upon certain decision tools to achieve the goal.

Cognitive scientists have a term for this approach—they call it “causal reasoning”. In this scenario, one sets up a goal and diligently looks for and acts in the best way to achieve one’s goal.

But do entrepreneurs really behave that way? Or is the startup process something fuzzier, something less clearly structured, with many surprises along the way?

The garage is part of the lean entrepreneur’s genome

Indeed, does the entrepreneur really have the goals well defined and does he really seek to know his operational environment? Importantly too, are opportunities revealed to us right in the beginning of the entrepreneurial process, or do new ones show up along the way, while others are proven to be more like mirages? Our “garage” story is a pointer towards this direction, something that recently emerging entrepreneurship research has termed as ‘effectual reasoning’.

In the logic of effectual reasoning, the entrepreneur does not necessarily begin with a specific goal, or with a clear vision. Instead, the entrepreneur starts equipped with a set of means and his or her goals emerge contingently over time.

This involves trying to make many small mistakes cheaply and as early as possible which would enhance learning. Success is individually defined, and not at the outset of the venture, and can be changing and evolving, depending upon the new set of contingencies that show up.

The “garage” represents the resources (minimum) that are required in the early stages of a venture’s lifecycle. It is part of the lean entrepreneur’s genome, where he (or she) reasons effectually—focusing on the immediate task at hand and leveraging social and professional networks to his (or her) advantage. The garage is where the entrepreneur evaluates and applies the means which are closest at hand and then moves almost directly into action without elaborate planning. The doing is a critical part of the process. Only when the entrepreneur grows and metamorphoses into a larger organization, that a clear goal starts to emerge and causal reasoning becomes more dominant.

The garage as public policy

There is yet another, a fourth dimension through which to view the “garage” prism. The garage metaphor can be strongly related to the way public policy is shaped and pursued in efforts to promote entrepreneurship.

Many policymakers, however, have bought the idea with a vengeance, that at least part of the answer, and to many the only answer, is via the creation of physical infrastructure like incubators. Yet there is a problem with that.

For instance, we have observed that some of the most successful companies around have had very humble origins. Many were nurtured in spaces such as garages, basements, dorm rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and so forth. It would then be satirical to conclude that what one really needs in order to promote high growth startups is to build garages!

Many policymakers tend to confuse the lack of entrepreneurs with the lack of  ‘garages’

This, of course, is a caricature, but it is intended to make a point. In practice, the policy is not really taken to such an extreme. Yet it remains true that many policymakers tend to confuse the lack of entrepreneurs with the lack of space for the entrepreneurs to work in, i.e., the lack of “garages’”. The lack of incubating infrastructure is taken as a reason for the slow growth of entrepreneurial development.

A greater supply of dedicated spaces doesn’t mean that high growth entrepreneurship would flourish. What government policy should instead really focus on, is creating the right environment that is deemed essential.

This post Apple, Google, Amazon: Garage startups rule the world, and here’s why appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2lpVvzP

#Asia Apple, Google, Amazon: Garage startups rule the world, and here’s why

//

A workshop in a garage. Image courtesy: Unsplash

The following is an edited excerpt taken from Entresutra, on the shoulders of foxes: A hedgehog on entrepreneurship and motivation, authored by Soumodip Sarkar. The excerpt is published courtesy of Bloomsbury.

The garage metaphor is evocative and synonymous with the entrepreneurial phenomenon. The “garage” conjures an image of bootstrap dynamism and success, so much so that a very prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm headed by co-founder Guy Kawasaki has been christened Garage Technology Ventures.

While the startup “garage” culture is much more ingrained in the United States than elsewhere, many European and Japanese giants can also trace their origins to such humble spaces. Surprisingly even India, a country that doesn’t boast of many garages to begin with, has its own garage story.

India’s large biopharmaceutical company, Biocon had started out in a garage of a rented house in Bangalore, in 1978. With a seed capital of Rs 10000 (less than $200), entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar Shaw set up a company which today has revenues inching towards the half a billion-dollar mark.

The garage metaphor operates at both the level of the entrepreneurial psyche, as well as at a subtler and important level, in terms of the role that the “garage” plays in the entrepreneurial process. Holistically, the “garage” can be read along at least four different dimensions.

The garage as a goal

First, the “garage” represents an inspirational ideal. It is a metaphor that symbolizes the dynamism of the early prototypical phase of entrepreneurship. This phase involves some fundamental aspects of the entrepreneurial path—grit, hard work, independence, the freedom of working for oneself, humble origins, as well as old-fashioned ingenuity.

We can safely say that a startup can be seeded and nurtured in other unlikely and unpretentious places as well

startups from garages, and other unassuming places like the garage, permit us to delve into the following question. What does a startup really need in terms of the supporting infrastructure? As we have seen, the early, mostly prototypical stage of many of today’s giant enterprises, had been incubated in garages, basements, dorm rooms, bedrooms, kitchens etc., we can safely say that a startup can be seeded and nurtured in other unlikely and unpretentious places as well.

In strategic terms, the location and the cost of the ‘incubator’ can be far more important than the actual size, the condition or the elegance of the place. The smaller bootstrap the startup costs, the lesser the strains on the fledgling enterprise.

The garage as independence

The iconic Google garage. Image courtesy: Flickr

Second, this also enables the entrepreneur to delay the often inevitable roping in of external funds, such as from business angels or venture capitalists.

This bare-essentials strategy can be seen in the case of Google. Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, actually moved into the Menlo Park garage in 1998, after having managed to convince Sun co-founder, Andy Bechtolsheim to write out a cheque. With the money and the confidence that came from this important mentor, they could easily have had opted to go in for a space more than a garage, but they didn’t.

The startup space should be a part of an integral bootstrapping strategy of the entrepreneur

The incubating space need not be physically very comfortable or attractive, and yet should give the entrepreneur enough freedom to not have to worry unduly about high rents. The startup space should, therefore, be a part of an integral bootstrapping strategy of the entrepreneur. A strategy and philosophy that if sustained throughout the growth stages, can well serve the entrepreneur.

Financial bootstrapping is an art, a powerful resource for the entrepreneur. The capacity for ‘creative imagination’ is a typical characteristic of entrepreneurs and should be reflected in small business innovation. Bootstrapping finance involves the use of resources to start and grow a venture at the lowest possible or even at no cost.

The prototypical startup phase can be incubated in an unassuming place such as a garage, and this one such bootstrapping technique. A strategy and philosophy that if sustained throughout the growth stages, can serve the entrepreneur well.

The garage as effectual reasoning

A workshop in a garage. Image courtesy: Unsplash

A third dimension from which we should view the “garage” prism has to do with what the entrepreneurial process really involves. Stories of entrepreneurship and most academic accounts of the entrepreneurial process, tend to present it as different steps taken in a strategic universe. In this universe, an entrepreneur sets out with a goal to achieve, and draws upon certain decision tools to achieve the goal.

Cognitive scientists have a term for this approach—they call it “causal reasoning”. In this scenario, one sets up a goal and diligently looks for and acts in the best way to achieve one’s goal.

But do entrepreneurs really behave that way? Or is the startup process something fuzzier, something less clearly structured, with many surprises along the way?

The garage is part of the lean entrepreneur’s genome

Indeed, does the entrepreneur really have the goals well defined and does he really seek to know his operational environment? Importantly too, are opportunities revealed to us right in the beginning of the entrepreneurial process, or do new ones show up along the way, while others are proven to be more like mirages? Our “garage” story is a pointer towards this direction, something that recently emerging entrepreneurship research has termed as ‘effectual reasoning’.

In the logic of effectual reasoning, the entrepreneur does not necessarily begin with a specific goal, or with a clear vision. Instead, the entrepreneur starts equipped with a set of means and his or her goals emerge contingently over time.

This involves trying to make many small mistakes cheaply and as early as possible which would enhance learning. Success is individually defined, and not at the outset of the venture, and can be changing and evolving, depending upon the new set of contingencies that show up.

The “garage” represents the resources (minimum) that are required in the early stages of a venture’s lifecycle. It is part of the lean entrepreneur’s genome, where he (or she) reasons effectually—focusing on the immediate task at hand and leveraging social and professional networks to his (or her) advantage. The garage is where the entrepreneur evaluates and applies the means which are closest at hand and then moves almost directly into action without elaborate planning. The doing is a critical part of the process. Only when the entrepreneur grows and metamorphoses into a larger organization, that a clear goal starts to emerge and causal reasoning becomes more dominant.

The garage as public policy

There is yet another, a fourth dimension through which to view the “garage” prism. The garage metaphor can be strongly related to the way public policy is shaped and pursued in efforts to promote entrepreneurship.

Many policymakers, however, have bought the idea with a vengeance, that at least part of the answer, and to many the only answer, is via the creation of physical infrastructure like incubators. Yet there is a problem with that.

For instance, we have observed that some of the most successful companies around have had very humble origins. Many were nurtured in spaces such as garages, basements, dorm rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and so forth. It would then be satirical to conclude that what one really needs in order to promote high growth startups is to build garages!

Many policymakers tend to confuse the lack of entrepreneurs with the lack of  ‘garages’

This, of course, is a caricature, but it is intended to make a point. In practice, the policy is not really taken to such an extreme. Yet it remains true that many policymakers tend to confuse the lack of entrepreneurs with the lack of space for the entrepreneurs to work in, i.e., the lack of “garages’”. The lack of incubating infrastructure is taken as a reason for the slow growth of entrepreneurial development.

A greater supply of dedicated spaces doesn’t mean that high growth entrepreneurship would flourish. What government policy should instead really focus on, is creating the right environment that is deemed essential.

This post Apple, Google, Amazon: Garage startups rule the world, and here’s why appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2lpVvzP

#Asia Asia news roundup: Swiggy lands US$210 million, Grab works with Shopee for same-day delivery, and more

//

Grab delivery driver

Swiggy gets hundreds of millions in funding from heavyweight investors, Grab teams up with Shopee to offer same day delivery services, Meituan rumoured to be filing its IPO this week.

Delivery and logistics

Food-delivery startup Swiggy gets US$210 million in fresh funding (India). New and existing investors participated in the latest round, which saw participants such as Meituan-Dianping, South African media company Naspers, and Russia’s DST Global. The money will be used to expand its supply chain network and enter new markets, Swiggy said. The company operates in 15 cities, with more than 35,000 restaurant partners andover 40,000 delivery drivers. (Livemint)

Grab partners with Shopee for same-day delivery (The Philippines). The ride-hailing company has teamed up with the ecommerce portal for a service called GrabExpress, as it looks to grow its last-mile logistics delivery service. In the coming months, Shopee plans to expand the service to more merchants and brands using its business-to-consumer portal Shopee Mall. (Tech in Asia)

Meituan-Dianping could file for US$6 billion Hong Kong listing this week (China). The restaurant review and delivery giant is said to be planning to submit an IPO to the bourse, according to people familiar with the matter. Observers are seeing a potential “blockbuster” listing, saying the company could raise US$6 billion with a targeted valuation of US$60 billion. Meituan-Dianping was valued at US$30 billion in its recent funding round last October. (Caixin)

Fintech

VCredit raised US$152 million in public listing (Hong Kong). The consumer finance service company sold 78.7 million shares at the lower end of its offer price, below its initial target of US$174 million. The proceeds from the IPO will be used to build its financing capabilities and for research and development. The company, which counts TPG Capital among its backers, raised US$50 million in its series C round in October last year. (DealStreetAsia)

SMECorner bags US$7 million funding from Capital First, others (India). With the fresh funds, the Mumbai-based micro lending startup will offeri more loans, expand its offerings offline, and improve its online portal. A group of high-net worth investors also participated in the round, along with Capital First and existing investor Accion Ventures. SMECorner aims to expand its client base to 5,000 this year, more than its current pool of 700 customers. (inc42)

WeChat providing real-time tax rebates at 77 airports (China). Claiming to not impose any fees on the transactions, the company’s We Tax Refund provides travelers with a quick way to apply for tax refunds on its app. The new service is available in countries such as South Korea, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Finland. Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, recently revealed plans to provide an electronic pass for travelers between Hong Kong and mainland China to make traveling between the two places more convenient. (Technode)

Ecommerce

Pinduoduo in hot water with its merchants (India). Touted as China’s fastest growing ecommerce platform, the startup is at odds with its vendors after it began a clampdown on counterfeit items. Since early June, some store owners have staged a protest around the company’s office in Shanghai to oppose the company’s revised policies, and the number of protestors has grown to almost 1,000. Pinduoduo has taken to task over 200 of the stores on its platform, freezing over one hundred million yuan (US$15.4 million) in the merchants’ accounts, local media reported. (KrAsia)

Enterprise software and services

Xiaomi’s IPO could value it at half its speculated price (China). The company’s Hong Kong listing could now value it at US$53.9 billion. The much-anticipated trade debut has been in the spotlight after the company put its China listing on hold earlier this week. Xiaomi’s valuation has been hyped up ever since it announced its plan to go public, with top executives pushing for the IPO valuation to be as much as US$100 billion, making it the largest since tech giant Alibaba’s. (DealStreetAsia)

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Indorse partners with blockchain talent sourcing platform to expand its reach (Singapore). The blockchain social network portal for professionals is working with Dream, a marketplace for high-end blockchain talent. Under the collaboration, Indorse will allow jobseekers on its platform to push their work profiles out to more networks. Indorse, which raised US$9 million in its token sale last year, has a system that allows users to build on their professional profiles while earning rewards through endorsing other users. (Indorse)

Authorities prohibit buying and selling of cryptocurrency without a license (Cambodia). All domestic investors must have a license to buy, sell or trade cryptocurrencies, according to a joint statement signed by the Exchange Commission of Cambodia, the General-Commissariat of National Police, and the National Bank of Cambodia. The statement follows further restrictions that disallow banks from providing account services to people who invest or trade in cryptocurrencies. (Coindesk)

Edtech

Online education platform VIPKid raises $500 million in series D+ (China). Heavy hitters including Tencent, Sequoia Capital China and Yunfeng Capital led the round, which is the world’s largest in the online education space to date. The funding also brings the company’s valuation to over US$20 billion. The money will go towards recruiting more native-speaking English teachers, grow its technology and product teams, and further expand its reach globally. The platform, which teaches English to children aged four to 12-, is also considering the inclusion of math and other subjects to its curriculum. (KrAsia)

Travel and hospitality

Oyo Rooms enters China (India). The company said its current network spans over 11,000 rooms in 26 cities such as Hangzhou, Xian, Nanjing, and Guangzhou. It will focus on building it presence in China as it works toward its goal of transforming the region’s hospitality industry. The company has already expanded its reach to Malaysia and Nepal. (Economic Times)

Media and entertainment

The News Lens raises US$4 million for series C (Taiwan). The news portal will be using some of the new funds to launch its in-house content management and data analytics platform. It’s also looking to reach international readers via strategic partnerships with other Chinese-language online media platforms. The company started out as a Facebook page sharing news and analysis, but it now has 9 million unique readers and bought bought two websites earlier this year. (Techcrunch)

Gaming studio Mighty Bear raises seven-figure seed funding(Singapore). The company claims it has raised the largest seed funding in Southeast Asia to date in a round led by US-based gaming investors Skycatcher, Everblue and M Ventures. Mighty Bear didn’t disclose the actual figure, but inside sources reported the amount at around US$2.5 million. The money will be used to hire developers and launch its first batch of games. The funding follows a pre-seed round last year that gave the startup a funding injection of US$775,000. (TechCrunch)

Google to train 200 Indian journalists to combat “fake news” (India). The tech giant launched an initiative that will train journalists to spot and verify the credibility of news sources. Training during the five-day boot camp will be conducted in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and Kannada across different cities in the country. (Google)

Telecom

MyRepublic reveals three new mobile plans (Singapore). The new entrant into the country’s mobile scene unveiled its no-contract plans, which offer data at a fixed price per month. The company uses a mobile virtual network operator model through Tata Communications, which allows it to operate without having to build its own network infrastructure and service management. It plans to launch more offerings in the coming months. (MyRepublic)

MyRepublic

Huawei tests out 5G network ideas with telco (Singapore). The smartphone and telecommunications services company showcased a plethora of innovative use cases using the network with telco company M1. The demo included the first live broadcast of VR content over the network and its capabilities on mobile broadband. A potential use case included livestreaming and broadcasting of VR as well as augmented and mixed reality experiences in a future “smart” classroom, the company said. (Huawei)

Investors, incubators, and accelerators

Gobi Partners announces new appointments amid soon-to-launch Thai fund (Malaysia). The VC has appointed Dan Chong as COO, Khairul Khairi as partner for the Meranti ASEAN Growth Fund, and Shannon Kalayanamitr as venture partner for the company’s upcoming Thailand Fund. Shannon, who advises the Thai government and is also the CMO of shopping site Orami, will represent the firm as it pitches to investors and looks for opportunities there. (Gobi Partners)

See: Previous Asia tech news roundups

This post Asia news roundup: Swiggy lands US$210 million, Grab works with Shopee for same-day delivery, and more appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2KaYHgE

#Asia Meet the 50 top-funded startups and tech companies in Japan

//

Which Japanese startups are making the most impact? One way to judge – although imperfect – would be the amount of money they have raised. Using Tech in Asia’s data, we’ve generated this constantly updated list of 50 startups and tech companies in Japan who have raised the most money from investors in the past two years. Seeking more? Search the most comprehensive database of tech companies in Asia or read our Research methodology. Special thanks to East Ventures for its assistance in compiling this list.

This post Meet the 50 top-funded startups and tech companies in Japan appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2lrwnbT

#Asia Asia news roundup: Quantifeed nets US$10m, smart chip giant valued at US$2.5b after latest round, and more

//

Carousell officially launched its integrated payment system CarouPay. Photo Credit: Carousell

Manufacturing

Cambricon finalizes series B with US$2.5 billion valuation (China). The chip giant said it bagged hundreds of millions of dollars from investors such as SDIC Venture Capital, Alibaba VC and Lenovo Capital. Last month, Cambricon showcased its third-generation AI chip for edge devices, a processor that supports local machine learning training. (Synced)

Biopharmaceuticals

Alpha Biopharma lands US$37 million in series A from Chinese VC firm, others (China). The Shanghai-based company secured the funds from the first close, which was led by Qiming Venture Partners. LYZZ Healthcare Venture Fund and TF Fund also participated. AlphaBio said it will use the money to carry out a Phase II clinical study of its main product AZD3759 and also grow its pipeline. The firm is looking to gain a total of $65 million for the entire series A round. (DealStreetAsia)

Financial services

Quantifeed gets US$10 million to bankroll expansion plans (Singapore). The Hong Kong-based startup raised the money in a series B round led by Taiwan’s Cathay Financial Holdings, with US-based asset management firm Legg Mason joining in. The financial digital advisor plans to use the fresh funds to expand its business and set up an office in Singapore. (Tech in Asia)

CarouPay officially launches on Carousell app (Singapore). The classifieds marketplace platform wants users to have a “safer, easier and faster” experience with its mobile transactions CarouPay, its first integrated payment system. Customers can pay directly on the app using credit or debit cards on iOS and Android mobile phones. The company says it has more than 70,000 listings on its portal. (Carousell)

UangTeman hires new technology and operations leader (Indonesia). Sukan Makmuri has joined the digital lending platform as its chief technology and operations officer. He will lead the team in technology, research and development while driving the business towards automation and scalability. Makmuri’s appointment comes as the company embarks on its expansion plan throughout Southeast Asia while concluding its series B funding round. (UangTeman)

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Bithumb robbed of US$32 million of its coins (South Korea). In yet another hack over the last few weeks, a second South Korean crypto exchange reported the same situation. Bithumb, the seventh-biggest exchange in the world by trade value, said among the coins stolen was Ripple. It has halted crypto deposits and withdrawals, adding that compensation will be given to its victims while it moves the remaining coins to a storage space offline. (Bloomberg)

Zilliqa announces US$5 million developer grant program to build platform (Singapore). The blockchain company will use the funds to build its community and accelerate the development of tools and applications built on its open-source platform. The program will give developers non-dilutive funding, technical support, and an opportunity for recognition. Zilliqa has recently surpassed US$1 billion in market value. (Zilliqa)

Financial watchdog reportedly taking licensed crypto exchanges to task (Japan). The Financial Service Agency (FSA) is ordering at least five licensed crypto exchanges to improve their systems and follow strict anti-money laundering compliance, according to a Nikkei Asian Review report. The exchanges, which included bitFlyer, Quoine, Bitbank were flagged for not having sufficient measures in place to notice suspicious transactions. FSA also raised concerns related to crypto staff, who have to cope with the growing volume of transactions on the platforms. This follows after the first-ever license rejection by the regulator to FSHO because the crypto exchange was cited for not following proper security and compliance improvements. (Coindesk)

Central bank has no plans to launch its own digital currency (South Korea). The economy could be destabilized if it issued digital currencies and rejected the idea that they could perform the role of money, said the Bank of Korea. It called the issuance of central bank digital currencies (CBDG) a “moral hazard” due to its ability to affect monetary policy roles. The regulator, however, stressed that its stance is not entirely negative, but it needs more rigorous tests on CDBGs before they get the green light. (Coindesk)

Commerce

Unmanned vending machine startup gets US$10 million funding (China). Bianli24 closed its pre-series A round, which was led by Sequoia China, and said it will be using the money to push into more Chinese cities. The startup, which operates in 13 Chinese cities so far, runs its vending machines without a franchise model. According to the company, its machines contribute up to 20 percent of a store’s daily transactions. (Kr Asia)

Hospitality

Budget hotel-booking platform bets US$5 million on the Philippines (Singapore). With plans to grow its presence to 100 properties across the country over the next 12 months, RedDoorz plans to introduce a “premium” category to cater to business travelers. The new category of rooms will be located closer to business districts and have more amenities, it said. The Philippines will become the company’s third market, after Singapore and Indonesia. The company raised its pre-series B funding of US$11 million in March. (RedDoorz)

Hotel bedroom, bed, travel, guest, hospitality

RedDoorz guarantees clean linens and washrooms, satellite TV, wifi, mineral water, and toiletries in its rooms. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Venture capital

Ooctane VC launches startup fund with initial US$5 million from backer (Cambodia). The firm announced its debut fund in Phnom Penh and called out the lack of mentorship and early stage capital in the country. . The Cambodia Startup Fund will be led by Oknha Rithy Sear, chairman of Cambodian logistics firm Worldbridge Group. Ooctane is looking to invest in startups in the logistics, mobility, e-commerce, fintech, agritech, healthtech and tourism segments. (e27)

Deep technology

August Robotics closes seed round at US$ 3.7 million (Hong Kong). The fresh capital will go towards building a research and development center in Southern China dedicated to robot research. It will fund overseas expansion plans while building on its customer service. The company plans to showcase its first robot, which can assist exhibition companies at trade shows, later this year. (August Robotics)

Data science startup raises US$1.7 million seed funding (India). Elucidata, which has been bootstrapping since it was founded in 2015, plans to use the funds to expand its business and ramp up on hiring. The round was led by Hyperplane Venture capital and saw participation from well-known angel investors. (DealStreetAsia)

Logistics

Lalamove enters Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). With operations in other Southeast Asian countries as well as China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the on-demand logistics company added another country to its growing list. The service in Malaysia’s capital will first be available to drivers with cars to cater to bulk packages and on-demand, time-sensitive deliveries. Lalamove, which matches drivers with customers to fulfil same-day orders, said it currently serves 15 million users and over 2 million drivers. (Lalamove)

Ecommerce

Beauty startup launches in US and signs Sephora deal (South Korea). A year after shelving its plans, Memebox has re-launched its ecommerce business in the US and said it will sell Korean and in-house brands on the platform. It also revealed a partnership with beauty retail giant Sephora to roll out a new cosmetic line. The company was founded in 2012 as a subscription box service and follows a strong community-led model where members share information about beauty products with each other. The startup has raised US$160 million in funding so far. (Techcrunch)

See: Previous Asia tech news roundups

This post Asia news roundup: Quantifeed nets US$10m, smart chip giant valued at US$2.5b after latest round, and more appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2JZbpvW

#Asia Financial digital advisory startup nets $10m to set up office in Singapore

//

Quantifeed management team

Quantifeed’s management team / Photo credit: Quantifeed

As banks and financial institutions increasingly embrace digital tools, funds are flowing into startups that make and operate such technology. Hong Kong-based Quantifeed is the latest example of that, bagging US$10 million for its series B round.

The round was led by Taiwan’s Cathay Financial Holdings, whose subsidiary, Cathay United Bank, is a Quantifeed client. US-based asset management firm Legg Mason also participated.

Quantifeed makes wealth management and advisory software for financial institutions, online brokers, wealth managers, and so on. Its services include investment advice based on goals, risk, and theme, an analytics platform, and sales and customer engagement tools. It also has a team of quantitative analysts who calculate and monitor several markets and securities for valuable insights.

The funding will help the five-year old startup to expand its business and open a new office in Singapore. Quantifeed will also double down on research and development in data science, behavioral analytics, and more.

It currently provides digital advisory services to nine financial institutions across Asia and operates in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Australia.

Backed by large financials

Financial firms like banks and asset management companies are showing more interest in digital advisory startups like Quantifeed.

British asset management firm Schroders recently led a US$12 million series A round in Singapore-based WeInvest. Wealth and insurance technology company Finantix announced in March that it acquired Smartfolios, another Singaporean startup specializing in investment advisory through quantitative analytics. And Singapore-based Bambu raised an undisclosed amount last year in a round led by US holding company Franklin Templeton Investments.

Partnering with financial institutions is a great way for such startups to scale a lot faster, according to industry watchers.

Ernst & Young has observed that digital advisory services are becoming more popular with wealth clients like high-net-worth individuals. They’re familiar with such products and consider them a preferred channel for financial advice. Over 70 percent of high-net-worth individuals claimed they would consider using such tools.

“Fintech entrants are commoditizing the traditional asset allocation advice model, which is eroding pricing power and simultaneously raising the bar for better and faster service,” EY says.

Quantifeed previously raised US$4 million in a series A by Shanghai-based VC PGA Venture Partners.

This post Financial digital advisory startup nets $10m to set up office in Singapore appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2ysGire

#Asia Asia news roundup: Xiaomi postpones China listing, automotive startup raised US$10m for Series B, and more

//

Xiaomi Mi5x

Photo credit: Xiaomi.

Consumer tech

Xiaomi postpones planned listing in mainland (China). The company said plans will resume after its initial public offering in Hong Kong is completed, casting a pall on Beijing’s attempts to lure its tech giants home. It also canceled a scheduled review with Chinese regulators. Xiaomi was the first company to file for an application that wouldallow domestic investors in invest in offshore-listed companies. (Reuters)

Ecommerce

Sea raises US$575 million (Singapore). The tech giant’s latest fundraise exceeded its own estimates, thanks to strong demand from investors. The size of the offering was at an initial US$400 million and was then increased to US$500 milion. The net proceeds will be used to fund business expansion plans and boost its ecommerce platform Shopee. Tencent, the group’s largest shareholder, was expected to buy up US$50 million of the offering. (DealStreetAsia)

Alibaba sets up first Southeast Asia office in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Co-founder and CEO Jack Ma launched the group’s first outpost in the region to help grow cross-border trade. The office will also help Malaysia’s small and medium businesses boost their knowledge of ecommerce and technology. Last November, Ma opened an e-hub that was established by Alibaba and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation. (Asiaone)

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Central bank overseer points out crypto’s flaws (Asia). The Bank for International Settlements’ annual report included a scathing 24-page article commenting on the “shortcomings” of cryptocurrencies, adding that it may never become mainstream. It also pointed out that digital coins are too unstable, use up too much electricity, and are overly prone to fraud and manipulation. It also noted that crypto’s decentralized nature is an underlying fault instead of an essential advantage. (Bloomberg)

Automotive

Chexingyi snags US$10 million in series B (China). The automotive aftermarket services firm raised the funds from cab-hailing company to grow system product line, according to a report from local media 36Kr. Chexingyi is looking to put up outlets in 100 cities across the country by 2019 and sell its products to more than 30,000 car-wash services and repair and maintenance shops. (Kr Asia)

Healthcare

GetDoc gets a shot in the arm from Thai investor (Singapore). The company has received an undisclosed amount from AEC Securities Public to expand in Thailand. GetDoc previously unveiled plans to enter Thai market after it closed a US$1.6 million pre-series A round earlier this month. The platform has more than 200 clinics in Singapore and 1,200 in Malaysia as partners. (DealStreetAsia)

Financial services

Paytm snaps up AI startup to improve user experience (India). The etailer and digital wallet firm purchased Cube26 for an undisclosed amount and said the buy will help boost user experience on its mobile platform. The company claims to have 120 million monthly active users on its messaging feature Paytm Inbox. Paytm also plans to increase focus on regional content to extend its reach insmall cities and towns. (Livemint)

Entrepreneurship

MaGIC returns for the second year running (Malaysia). The Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre announced that it has selected 27 startups out of a total of 961 applications for its global accelerator program, which has branched out this year to include organizations eyeing expansion in new markets. The program involves mentoring from technical and business experts for four months. (MaGIC)

See: Previous Asia tech news roundups

This post Asia news roundup: Xiaomi postpones China listing, automotive startup raised US$10m for Series B, and more appeared first on Tech in Asia.

from Startups – Tech in Asia https://ift.tt/2K21BBr