May 27, 2015
Since the World Bank Group ranked Singapore as the world’s top location for ease of doing business, “Asia’s Silicon Valley” has earned its title with milestones such as the setup of the Golden Gate Ventures (GGV) incubator fund in 2011 and when the government launched its own tech incubator, the National Research Foundation (NRF), in 2006.
Here’s our list of 50 thriving startups we think you should get to know from the South East Asian island’s ecosystem.
Recognizing that many Southeast Asians do not use debit or credit cards, Coda Payments has established an alternative payment gateway in the region, providing access to direct carrier billing, bank transfers, convenience-store cash payments, and physical vouchers. Payments can be made on the Internet, with mobile phones, or in-app.
Founded in 2011 by two former GSM Association managers who specialized in mobile money, Coda is headquartered in Singapore. It launched Codashop in November 2014, offering Steam Wallet Codes at inception.
Codapay is a win-win-win for telcos, merchants, and consumers, with high revenue shares, an easily installed API, and super-fast transactions. To date, $3.2M of funding has come from investors including Skype cofounder Toivo Annus.
2C2P’s comprehensive payment solution is about “serving the underserved,” with products like Myanmar’s Citizen Card and Thailand’s 123 platform. In addition to this B2C focus, 2C2P also services merchants and banks such as Deal.com.sg and TMB Bank.
At the end of April 2015, $7M of Series C funding was raised from Hong Kong’s Amun Capital and Japan’s GMO Venture Partners. Myanmar-born founder/CEO Aung Kyaw Moe will use the funds to develop other technologies including virtual and physical debit/prepaid cards.
After winning multiple awards and processing $2.2B worth of payments in 2014, Moe is looking ahead to Series D on his way to becoming SE Asia’s number-one fintech company.
Coinpip specializes in the remote, freelancing economy, leveraging bitcoin as an “invisible medium” to facilitate rapid payment from any mobile device—to and from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, and the U.S.—directly into receivers’ bank accounts.
After acceptance into Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups incubator in November 2014, Coinpip was funded by the SG government to launch its open beta at SXSW 2015 in March. With its 500 Startups accelerator boost, Coinpip is now looking at expansion, including the UK, Malaysia, and Kenya, with a new user-friendly dashboard in tow.
Given that Coinpip already transfers in under 48 hours for a 2% flat fee, we keenly await further enhancements from CEO Anson Zeall and his team.
MoneySmart is a digital resource that aggregates and consolidates product information for users, who can then make a personally tailored comparison within a single online platform. Loans, insurance, and credit cards are taken care of, while bank accounts and investments are on the way. Meanwhile, the MoneySmart Blog keeps subscribers financially literate all year round.
Since receiving close to $1M in funding between 2012 and 2013, MoneySmart acquired regional counterpart KreditAja as part of its Indonesian launch at the end of 2014.
With GGV Founding Partner Vinnie Lauria as an advisor and board member, MoneySmart will continue to optimize its marketing channels and conversions. As Lauria says, “now they’re going big.”
Billing itself as the “friendliest online wallet,” CoinHako is a leader among SG’s promising bitcoin startup scene, allowing Singaporeans to buy, sell, and secure BTC within minutes. The nimble team also offers workshops and seminars on cryptocurrencies through its Block Chain Consulting brand.
After CoinHako joined the Boost VC accelerator bootcamp in mid-2014, CoinHako remains focused on building its SG presence, but a team is also being assembled to explore regional expansion.
Boost VC CEO Adam Draper made a lifelong commitment to CoinHako after its bootcamp run, informing the media that the accelerator is “invested forever.” BTC is hot, and so is CoinHako.
Founded in 2013, BitX runs one of the world’s longest-running bitcoin exchanges and has created a smartwallet for secure global BTC transactions.
Spread across 4 countries, BitX secured $824K in seed funding in August 2014, and will use the money to expand into more markets as part of its mission to become the world’s largest cryptocurrency distribution platform.
Mobile payment pioneer and VC Carol Realini invested in BitX’s seed round, explaining: “I know these guys are going to be successful … I don’t want to miss the opportunity to put real dollars in.”
Targeting SMEs, Capital Match only launched as a P2P online marketplace in 2014, but has already approved two loans worth $186K each through its crowdfunding model. The startup only lends to businesses, but anyone can become a lender.
Capital Match currently holds weekly information sessions, while its key investors are Crystal Horse and Ce-Tech Invest.
With around 85% of all small-business-loan applications refused in Singapore, Capital Match’s signals are strong.
8. Apex Peak
The Apex Peak micro lending platform was founded to ease cashflow matters for SMEs and multinationals outside the traditional banking system. On the Apex Peak platform, borrowers receive money faster—80% of the invoice is paid out immediately, while the balance is paid out within 120 days.
The startup also runs a South African office, and made its Middle Eastern presence official in January 2015 with the acquisition of Dubai fintech startup Cashnomix.
With B2B VC platform Hatcher as its key investor, the 17-strong team is well-placed to continue its rapid rise with operations across three global regions.
Tired of high fees and long waiting times, Xfers has joined the disruption of the traditional banking system with a low-cost, simplified Internet-banking solution. Merchants can easily oversee numerous transactions with Xfers’ automated technology, which also removes the hassle of constant checking with a notification function.
Founders Tianyao Liu and Tay Wen Bin have secured a group of investors including China’s leading Quest VC fund and who also received a $10,000 grant from NUS Enterprise.
Xfers has tapped into the massive potential of the payment-transfer sector, so we are interested to see where it goes—especially because it has partnered with fellow SG fintech startups CoinPip and CoinHako.
With a mission to grow the fintech ecosystem in Singapore, the Consortium seeks to foster relationships between the market players by offering resources, networking and showcasing events, and education.
The company, still in public beta, and its website will be officially launched soon.
Given the red-hot potential of fintech—recently spruiked by prominent VC Ben Horowitz—the launch of The Singapore Fintech Consortium is worth watching for.
Based on the premise that “a good idea in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley should be able to raise capital as efficiently as another good idea in Silicon Valley,” Emerging Frontiers is looking out for entrepreneurs in the developing world. In addition to analysis and commentary, this startup also offers “institutional-quality” deals on its next-generation investment platform.
With offices in both SG and London, Emerging Frontiers keeps its ear to the ground in all of the major regional markets, and users can also contribute to the startup’s always-updated intelligence when they are not browsing the Investor Platform.
With award-winning frontier investor Leopard Capital as a partner, this startup’s recognition of emerging-market potential makes it follow-worthy.
Cryptocurrency specialist Switchless uses its own infrastructure and blockchain-based FALCON protocol to take the hassle out of Bitcoin transferral for financial institutions and telcos. The startup also offers customized fintech services to meet specific needs.
The Standard Bank of South Africa ran a pilot using Switchless technology to integrate bitcoin trading into its own currency system in early 2014.
CEO Marcus Swanepoel also heads up BitX, which is owned by Switchless, and is a global BTC expert who makes this startup particularly interesting.
InfoTrie uses technology to streamline “unstructured data” so that its users know that they are only receiving optimal financial information. FinSentS, the startup’s flagship Big Data solution, is part of an algorithm suite that delivers visualized time series to save users’ time.
Since launching in 2012, InfoTrie secured $396.8K in seed funding in 2014.
Having established additional offices in Paris, London, and Bangalore, French cofounder/CEO Frederic Georjon has not wasted any time making his startup’s presence felt on a worldwide scale.
Spurred by frequent credit-card requests from his daughter, fastacash’s cofounder decided to create a fintech startup that allows value transfer on social and messaging channels including Twitter, Skype, and Whatsapp. The technology can also bundle digital content with the transaction.
fastacash raised $4M for global expansion in mid-2014 and continues to use the money for product development.
CEO Vince Tallent and his team know the immense value of “who you know,” and their strong focus on partnerships means that this startup’s growth will involve major market players.
As far as InMobi is concerned, the era of personalized advertising is here—and it is mobile. Selling itself as a “technology powerhouse,” InMobi’s mobile advertising ecosystem is now considered the world’s largest mobile ad network.
With grapevine noise about Google interest in March 2015, the $220.6M marketing startup recently announced a partnership with Sky Media to service mobile ads to a UK market that comprises over 1.5 billion monthly ad impressions.
Called “Probably the Biggest Non-Public Mobile Ad Business on the Planet” by Business Insider, InMobi’s 900 employees and 9 international offices are not going away. And Mountain View may just make sure of that.
CtrlShift is described as a “programmatic trading firm” and seeks to address the breakneck speed of the automated marketing space on behalf of its clients with customized tech-based solutions. CtrlShift accepts that consumers with increasingly shorter attention spans are now in control.
After the January 2015 merger, the announcement of a TubeMogul partnership occurred two months later.
With the backing of SG’s government fund, NRF, among others, we are excited to see what becomes of CtrlShift’s commitment to innovation.
17. Lokatix (formerly EatAds)
After rebranding as Lokatix at the start of 2015, this adtech startup continues to offer its simplified cloud solutions to OOH advertisers, including a mobile app, map-based websites, and sales intelligence and tools.
Although Australian cofounder Nigel Hembrow is still consolidating after the rebrand, Lokatix has already received support from SG-based accelerator Hatcher, which launched its early-stage venture fund in April 2015.
In a rapidly changing marketing world of personalization and customization, Lokatix is positioned to grow big in Asia.
18. Fetch Plus
Fetch Spaces and Fetch Fans are the flagship digital advertising products of Fetch Plus, which uses sophisticated algorithms to transition clients into the online realm. Spaces is an end-to-end closed ad-network, while Fans solves the “social media conundrum”—all in the name of revenue generation.
After raising $567K in seed funding, the adtech startup has completed successful partnerships with Singtel and Fairfax Media.
With the addition of a U.S. office, Fetch Plus is likely to outdo the 2,000% recurring-revenue increase that it delivered to Australia’s Fairfax media empire.
YOOSE’s specialty is location-based advertising. This startup emphasizes the “tech” in adtech with constant innovations to its geo-targeting, display ads, video ads, Bluetooth beacons, and virtual WiFi billboards.
In just 7 years, YOOST has become the location-based market leader in the European and APAC regions, and was a Red Herring finalist in 2011.
Founder/CEO Christian Geissendoerfer is now the President of both the Singapore Chapter of the Location-Based Marketing Association and the Mobile Alliance Singapore, so we are keen to see how he builds upon such a rapid regional ascent.
In a world where “influencers” have taken center stage, SG-born Gushcloud has built itself on a foundation of content and influence, and uses its 10,000-strong network of online influencers to benefit clients that want to engage with their target audiences more effectively.
After launching in 2011, cofounders Vincent Ha and Althea Lim managed to close a multi-million-dollar acquisition deal with Korea’s YDM Group in May 2015.
With the backing of a Korean mobile media company comprised of 54 companies and 33 services, Gushcloud’s future is very bright.
Affle’s Mobile Audience as a Service (MAAS) platform is like the key that opens the ROI-maximization lock. The startup’s technology is defined by four foundational blocks: “maniacal” UX focus, unified data, measurability for every dollar spent, and data visualization for smarter decisions.
After launching in 2006, Affle launched a $3.3M fund with the Mobile Marketing Association in 2013, and then acquired Indian mobile tech company Appstudioz in September 2014.
Given that Affle has its ambitious eye on India, the world’s largest mobile-Internet-first market, we want to be around to see the future success of this SG-based startup.
Beeketing tells prospects that they can sell products like Jeff Bezos if they use the adtech startup’s data technology to track users’ behaviors on website marketplaces—even if they are on multiple devices, different browsers, or not logged in.
Vietnam native MT Quan has a 6-year history with tech businesses and pivoted into Beeketing after realizing the importance of “kick-ass customer service.”
Although Quan admitted in December 2014 that he was losing around $3K monthly on Beeketing 4 months in, he was hopeful after his app became a top-seller on the Shopify AppStore, over 2200 users has signed up, and his team of 8 had achieved 200% monthly growth.
Craigslist is so last decade, as the best and most fun marketplaces now fit in your pocket—on your handset. If you become a seller on Singapore’s Carousell, you can snap, list, chat, and sell within minutes. Plus, they have an Instagram Import function for existing Instasellers.
After an investment from 500 Startups in 2013, Carousell raised $6M in a Series A round in November 2014. The e-commerce startup is looking to expand its team so that it can venture outside of SG into the region’s other markets.
In a mere 2 years, Carousell had become the #1 shopping app in Singapore and more than 8 million listings have been posted. With Sequoia Capital excited about this startup’s future, we are too.
RedMart is in the business of “delivering happiness” to its SG customer base, who love receiving groceries within 2 hours of online ordering, it is open every day, prices are low, the deals are great, and customer support is excellent.
Disrupting the grocery industry seems to be going just fine for this startup since it was founded in 2011. With plans to expand into India, RedMart has attracted attention for its technology approach to retail.
With an ambition to become the “biggest and best” in Asia, RedMart’s future is one to watch with interest.
The SG startup ecosystem is also home to SE Asia’s largest online beauty products e-tailer Luxola. Buyers can choose 100%-authentic products from over 250 brands—60 of which are exclusive to Luxola—along with customer reviews, “how-to” tips, and a digital lifestyle publication.
Don’t be fooled by the cosmetic exterior, as Luxola is serious about data and has successfully used growth-hacking techniques. The site is now active in Oceania and the UAE.
Founder/CEO Alexis Horowitz-Burdick has shown what she is capable of after weathering months of unpredictability and instability in the early days. Since raising $590K in August 2012, it looks like Luxola’s tech-beauty combination will be resilient.
HipVan is so serious about the quality and specialness of its design products that it provides members with an exclusive e-commerce experience. As of May 2015, this startup does not serve the public at large, as only HipVan members have access to its portfolio of independent designers and top-shelf brands at discounted prices.
HipVan cofounder Danny Tan reported that the company astonishingly tripled its revenue between July and December 2014. HipVan also has a store-credit program and gave away $800K to existing users at the end of 2014.
Not only is this another investment pick of Skype cofounder Toivo Annus, but HipVan’s seed funding total reached over $1.2M after prominent Singapore VC Wavemaker jumped in the Van.
The ShopSpot app is a mobile shopping platform that taps into the burgeoning mobile-first market. Merchants can target their products to a select audience and prospective buyers can directly contact sellers—all without leaving the app.
Two months after launching, the Craigslist-style UI of the mobile shopping app ShopSpot was not working in the Asian market, but their quick transition to a traditional platform led to $628K in funding in February 2013.
Thai cofounder Natsakon Kiatsuranon reported monthly growth and engagement rates of 25% and 50%, respectively, in 2013. Given that the 2014 Adobe Digital Index predicted that holiday shopping in Thailand would grow by more than 30% from the year before, it is likely that ShopSpot’s rates will stay strong.
Bakipa’s free mobile app provides an easily accessible marketplace for users to buy and sell parenting items. Bakipa is a trading platform for pre-loved goods so that you won’t need to hire a consultant to clear space in the garage.
After launching in only October 2014, parents are saving up to 95% on the world’s top parenting brands including Fisher-Price and Bugaboo.
Australian entrepreneur Marigold Duncan founded the startup with her husband, both of whom are parents to a baby daughter, so they know what their users are looking for. In an increasingly “reuse and recycle” world, Bakipa should be a winner for the Duncan clan.
As another successful snap-upload-sell mobile-app marketplace, Duriana sells nearly half-a-million items, both new and “gently used,” across 18 categories including fashion, gadgets, and textbooks. Sellers can share items on social, privately chat (both buyers and sellers), and set up a shop, all within the app.
In March 2015, a $2.5M boost led by Japan’s Beenos takes the startup’s total to $3.5M.
After recently adding an escrow payment system, Duriana is a worthy follow in an e-commerce-heavy SE Asian region, as CEO/cofounder Amanda Ernst has already driven its superior market position in Malaysia and the Philippines.
91 Design Labs’ FreshMonk combines social campaigns, crowdfunding, and the world’s enduring love of the T-shirt to allow anyone to sell customized merchandise minus the upfront costs. Users design the T-shirt and launch the crowdfunding campaign with the startups online tools, but production and payment only goes ahead if the sales goal is reached.
An undisclosed funding sum was announced in January 2015 as part of a “Series AA” round that was led by August Capital Partners.
Having only been founded in 2014, FreshMonk has the expertise to go the distance with cofounders from business and engineering backgrounds. Like the startup says: Bikini season is only 3 months, but T-shirt season is all year round.
Billing itself as the “Private Marketplace for Ocean Freight,” the industry neutral Haven offers benefits for both shippers and carriers. The former loses the arduous back-and-forth negotiating and lowers its chance of missing out during peak periods, while the latter can list their capacities for free and attain new customers without additional selling.
Since launching in March 2015, Haven has raised a $3M seeding round—First Round Capital is one of the VCs.
With an additional base in San Francisco, Haven’s Matt Tillman and Jeff Wehner seem to have really hit on something, with 1,500 ports and 10 carriers already on board. Haven looks like a textbook case of disruption, so we avidly await further developments.
Operating as a B2B online entity, Cargobase uses its own “intelligent shipment dashboard” to take the work, steep costs, and intermediaries out of shipping expedited air freight. Shipment RFQs are sent to the preferred supplier of the customer, who is in full control and has visibility of the progress of their freight.
Cargobase closed a seed funding round of $350K in September 2014, which included backing from 500 Startups. At the same time, the startup was handling around 80 monthly shipments, with clients saving an average of 44% per transaction.
Dutch cofounders Jan van der Burgt and Wiebe Helder have tapped into a market worth $40B per year, and given the hectic nature of SE Asian logistics, we are keen to see where they go from here.
33. Ninja Van
Ninja Van offers its API-centric, algorithm-based technology to assure next-day delivery and competitive rates, so that its customers never need to fill out a delivery form again. Operating solely with e-tailers in SG at this stage, the startup has designed a multiple-delivery routing system to accommodate the specific needs of online merchants.
When Ninja Van announced its $2.5M Series A funds in March 2015 it was already serving more than 300 SG clients.
The last-mile fulfillment logistics niche that Ninja Van occupies is typically the least efficient leg of the supply chain, so it is ripe for disruption. SE Asia’s transportation and logistics market is expected to reach $4.09 trillion in 2016, so Ninja Van’s timing could not be better.
Anchanto’s platform provides traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses with a comprehensive e-commerce backend that the startup built “from scratch.” Services include product listing, order processing, inventory housing, and online marketing.
After receiving an undisclosed sum in May 2014 from the Innosight VC fund, Anchanto announced an expansion plan involving Malaysia, India, and Indonesia. Levi’s Malaysia then confirmed Anchanto as the manager of its website trade 3 months later.
Anchanto continues to venture forth across a multi-trillion-dollar Asian logistics industry, and is one of the prospective hopefuls in the eye of prominent VC backer Scott Anthony.
TradeGecko’s inventory management software gives SMEs the “power of Walmart’s supply chain management” so that they can manage their sales and supply chains within a single platform. As well as inventory and accounting e-solutions, users also receive detailed data insights regarding their operations.
In May 2015, a $6.5M Series A funding round was announced, raising the startup’s total to $8M. At the time of the announcement, over 10,000 SMEs were using TradeGecko’s software in more than 100 countries.
Within just 3 years, TradeGecko has managed to build the foundations of its customer base in the U.S. By the end of 2016, Hong Kong and Australian offices will be opened, while the startup’s team will grow from 60 to more than 200.
ReferralCandy is a SaaS solution for businesses with an established word-of-mouth presence, providing an automated referral program that can be customized or left alone to run in the background. Based on the idea that every customer can be a brand advocate, ReferralCandy also keeps detailed records of each referral.
When it announced $1M from its oversubscribing funding round in February 2014, the Anafore startup behind the ReferralCandy software had tripled its revenue over the previous year.
This is yet another startup in Toivo Annus’s VC portfolio, so its future revenue achievements will be worth watching out for.
Collabspot’s Chrome extension enables businesses to track business-application data from within their Gmail inboxes. By making Gmail the window to apps like Mailchimp, Shopify, and Xero, Collabspot users can boost their productivity.
After incorporating in SG in 2013, Collabspot has so far raised $143K in funding and announced a partnership with Pipeliner CRM in May 2015.
At the end of 2013, two-thirds of Collabspot’s customers were in the U.S., after it had doubled its paying monthly active user base to 1,000 in the preceding 4 months. With the recent Evernote partnership, we expect this startup to continue growing.
Available on iOS, Android, Web, and Mac OS X, Pie calls its workplace chat app “deliciously simple.” Pie teams can collaborate with the app’s inline visual-content display, file-sharing capability, search function, Quick Replies for low batteries or busy times, and multi-device syncing.
Pie raised $2.4M in mid-2014 and the app is now optimized for Apple Watch. If you thought the super-popular Slack didn’t have serious competition, then think again.
Cofounder Pieter Walraven, who was recently called the “messaging app king”, appeared on America’s CNBC in April 2015 to talk about the wonders of Pie. Stay tuned.
Drawing up contracts doesn’t need to be a chore with LawCanvas’ legal-document software that includes a legal template library, a smart editor, and a plain-English guide.
Even though no-one enjoys legalese, businesses cannot avoid it, so it is not surprising that LawCanvas has raised around $45K since launching in May 2014, and their user base was close to 2,000 in just 7 months.
LawCanvas only serves Singapore at this stage, but strong interest has emerged in Malaysia, and cofounders Daniel Leong and Mark Png have global-expansion plans—especially because other startups have flocked to the software.
Like Collabspot, Augment was developed as a productivity booster, whereby users’ Gmail inboxes are connected to their cloud applications. Augment users have a single point of access to manage important tasks, mail, events, and files.
The startup registered its 1,000th user on May 14, 2015, after Product Hunt broadcast the benefits of Augment’s one-stop, email-based productivity tool.
Augment creators Autocus signed up 250 executives within 15 hours of launching in June 2014. They understand rapid growth, and we expect this trend to continue as the world constantly strives to get more out their work days.
41. Unified Inbox
The cloud-based Unified Inbox startup wants its users to “Simply Communicate” with its patented UnificationEngine technology. While the details are more sophisticated than this, the Unified Inbox essentially allows users to receive messages from all of their channels—social, email, SMS, voicemails, whatever—through a single platform.
After launching in 2008, Unified Inbox acquired U.S. startups SocialGrow and Smak in 2014, followed by the launch of the Outbox Pro social-media product in January 2015. TechCrunch lists $1M as the total amount raised by this startup.
Forbes identified Unified Inbox founder/CEO Toby Ruckert as one of the 20 people to meet at the 2015 CommunicAsia event. Ruckert is also a speaker and consultant in high demand, and we believe that his intercultural expertise will serve his startup well in the SG ecosystem.
As part of its mission to back up the Internet, Dropmysite assures its users that they will never lose data again, irrespective of whether it is a website, email, voicemail, or social data. Dropmysite uses the cloud to provide a single-click automated backup service that is encrypted with an AES 256 block cypher.
After launching in 2011, Dropmysite joined the 500 Startups family in 2013, and was also voted one of the Top 20 Hottest Startups by Singapore Business Review.
With Dropmysite offices in 4 countries, appearances on many of the major news outlets, multilingual websites, and close to 1 million signups, founder John Fearon’s data-backup mission has just begun.
Tappy is like the love-child of Tinder and Snapchat: A hyperlocal social app that discards photo messages after 20 seconds. Users can find new friends in any location, which can become a virtual community for Tappy members. All profiles are verified.
Unsurprisingly, Tinder acquired the photo messaging app in January 2015, after Tappy launched in July 2014 with $10M in funding.
Although the messaging niche has become very crowded, we cannot help but be enticed by cofounder Brian Norgard’s plan to “couple Tappy DNA with Tinder DNA.”
Social entered the agricultural sector with 8villages, which has been described as the “Facebook of farmers.” Using mobile, cloud-based technology, 8villages provides a platform for farmers and agribusinesses—including multinationals like Bayer—to communicate, and includes a reward-based loyalty management program.
After raising $150K in its pre-Series A round in 2011, agribusinesses are the main source of 8villages revenue. The social startup announced a partnership with Indonesian telco XL Axiata in December 2014.
Cofounder Mathieu Le Bras used his decade-long experience as an agronomist to lead the startup to 10,000 registered users by the end of 2014. Although he has stepped down from the CEO role, 8villages is established in a new space with great potential for success.
45. Nonstop Games
Nonstop Games simply makes mobile and tablet video games. The startup uses a combination of passion and veteran experience to create special gaming experiences.
After launching in 2011, the startup relocated to SG in 2012 after a $2.9M seed round. From its new SE Asian base, it launched the iOS strategy game Heroes of Honor, and will launch its next title in the second quarter of 2015.
Nonstop Games is an exit success story, as Candy Crush Saga creators King acquired the startup in 2014 for $6M in cash, while another $84M is on the table based on future performance. Head of studio and cofounder Juha Paananen is now only interested in focusing on “games, customers, and products,” and we believe him.
While not strictly a gaming startup, Playbasis innovatively uses gamification to help businesses increase engagement, retention, and loyalty with its automated platform. Based on the ethos that “Engagement is the Currency of the Digital Economy,” users gain access to virtual gaming tools and social loyalty programs so that they can offer richer consumer experiences.
With origins in Thailand, Playbasis won $770K in seed funding in 2014 and signed up as an AWS client in May 2015.
Founder Robert Zepeda does not believe that gamification is a passing fad, and with 500 Startups on his side, we look forward to Playbasis’ future.
TravelShark’s data scientists created Essence technology to deliver the market’s best personalized travel recommendations. Essence technology uses crowd-sourced data to extract the most frequently mentioned and most unique attributes of a location so that travelers never have to plow through reviews ever again.
After closing a $5M round in 2011, TravelShark won a Gold Adrian Award the following year and is focused on creating a “truly personalized discovery engine.”
It is always exciting when a startup builds its own technology, so we are interested to see what Essence comes up with next.
TripVillas has amassed a database of more than 150,000 family-owned vacation homes across Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas, providing homeowners with extra income and travelers with large spacious accommodation outside of the hotel/resort merry-go-round. From pension homes in the Philippines to the Red Sea coast of El Gouna, TripVillas offers users real time booking.
Between 2009 and 2014, this travel startup had generated $3M in inquiries.
With a VR marketplace that has managed to cover five continents in 6 years, Craigslist-inspired founder Roshan D’Silva is most definitely follow-worthy.
Founded on the principle that traveling is much more than a checklist of tourist attractions, Roomarama offers over 300,00 short-term “unique, stunning” rental options from Paris to New York. Users benefit from instantaneous booking confirmations and verified hosts/corporate partners.
Founded in 2009 by two former Bloomberg LP executives, the startup raised $2.1M after merging with Lofty.com. Roomarama continues its mission to deliver quality, reliability, and fast booking.
The short-term rental niche is blossoming as travelers seek out more fulfilling experiences. Roomarama is an established leader in the market after just 6 years, so we continue to watch this startup space.
smove empowers Singaporeans with an ability to use their mobile phones to hire an electric vehicle at short notice with a maximum of 5 clicks. Pickups are ordinary parking locations, while a convenient dropoff point is user-selected. Hassle-free, eco-friendly, and flexible.
A $1.1M funding round was announced in September 2014, with 500 Startups and Wavemaker Labs among the VC contributors. smove is looking to expand its 17-car fleet to 100 by the end of 2015.
It is hard to resist a startup that brands itself as the “Apple of Urban Mobility,” but more than that, the increasing popularity of both the sharing economy and electric-vehicle market make smove a strong contender for further success.