#Asia Startups with heart: 4 moving stories of 2015


How have Glints, Zenius, GrabTaxi and A Better Florist moved people?

It is the year’s end. The weather turns cooler (or wetter for some). You try to keep warm (or dry) indoors, enjoy a cup of coffee maybe if that is what you fancy, and look back on the year and the things you have done.

This year, we have heard about and shared some moving startup stories.

We picked four of them for you:

1. Glints


In February this year, it was reported that the three 21-year-old Singaporean Co-founders of Glints decided to put on hold their undergraduate studies at Ivy League universities in the US to focus on their startup.

At the time, the career discovery and development platform for youth had just raised US$475,000 in an oversubscribed seed round. The Co-founders, Oswald Yeo, Ying Cong Seah and Qing En Looi, turned away an additional US$250,000.

“Definitely, there was a lot of societal and family pressure, but, eventually, we decided that this is a really good opportunity for us and we want to solve a huge global problem that we’re really passionate about,” said Co-founder Yeo in an earlier interview with e27.

With 1,200 employers and 12,000 youth among its users, and such gumption, we believe they will inspire other youth to be bold enough to set up their own businesses and make their own marks in the world.

Also Read: 6 social enterprises that want to change the world

2. Zenius


Zenius provides study material via desktop and mobile devices, catering to the demand for ‘cram schools’ that people use to prepare for university entrance exams.

In an e27 story earlier this year about Indonesian startups helping to educate the underprivileged in the country, an anecdote shared by Zenius CEO Wisnu OPS stood out.

A young girl was supposedly captured in a photo on Twitter showing her using Zenius on a laptop in a paddy field.

Education offers opportunities to higher standards of living. Technology, as Zenius demonstrates, can be harnessed to provide greater access to education for the underprivileged.

Startups like Zenius can move people up the social ladder.

Also Read: DBS Foundation awards grants to 11 social enterprises

3. GrabTaxi

File photo of Tan Hooi Ling, Co-founder of GrabTaxi

File photo of Tan Hooi Ling, Co-founder of GrabTaxi

The Malaysia-based ride-sharing platform has regularly professed a double bottomline that includes a social element.

“A lot of ideas right now from startups focus on the top 10 to 20 per cent of the income pyramid. We thought it sad because technology can change the lives of significantly more individuals if you were to focus on the bottom of the pyramid.

“Can you improve accessibility to education, transportation, that ability to actually make an income and therefore move from the bottom of the pyramid to the next level and so on?” said Co-founder Hooi Ling Tan in a recent interview with e27.

Tan has her answer in this story of a 22-year-old female GrabCar driver who uses the service to supplement her single-parent household income. Despite being a full-time student, she rents a car on Fridays and on weekends to net fares using the GrabCar service, hoping to capitalise on the high user traffic expected on weekends.

In the process, she puts up with late-night drunk male riders, who, at times, try to take advantage of her.

Also Read: Software with a heart: Start Now is first SG social entrepreneur exit

4. A Better Florist


Gifting flowers is a time-honoured tradition. And when Steve Feiner had a bad experience once of sending flowers to his then-girlfriend, he decided to take things into his own hands and start a floristry himself — albeit one that harnesses technology to make ordering and delivering flowers more convenient.

“I’ll do this for the rest of my life. It is love at scale. That’s our mission statement. I want to make as many customers smile as I can. Whether these are customers in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta or Dubai, it doesn’t matter,” said Feiner, who left his job at Google to start this venture, in an earlier interview with e27.

We hope these stories make you smile too.

Also Read: Is Social Entrepreneurship sustainable?

Image credit: Shutterstock

The post Startups with heart: 4 moving stories of 2015 appeared first on e27.

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