Start-up companies prove that starting small is just the first step to success.
A start-up is a company that is just at its formative years. It usually runs on finance or funding by a handful of investors also known as Angel Investor. Without much of a history and name in the business industry and equipped only with their unique goals, start-ups find it hard to look for funding.
However, just this 2017, start-up companies in Singapore have really changed the game. According to a database by Tech in Asia, Southeast Asia’s tech firms saw a record US$8.6 billion in disclosed funding.
This completely overtook last year’s US$2.6 billion. This gives hope to the rest of those aspiring business groups waiting for their shot.
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We asked 14 Singapore finance bloggers to share what they would do if they could go back in time and invest their first $20,000. They can no longer rewind time, but you can learn from their experience and hopefully start with a better footing.
So without further ado, here are the 10 well-funded start-ups that make Singaporeans proud:
The first in our list is under the logistics and transportation category. It’s none other than Grab. This Singaporean technology company that offers their beloved ride-hailing service across Southeast Asia garnered the biggest investment among the start-ups this year.
Only within July of 2017, Grab has received funding of US$2.7 billion; proving to become one of the most used services in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, and Myanmar.
To date, there are over 1 million registered drivers in the network; while its application has been downloaded onto more than 45 million devices across Southeast Asia. Grab’s average daily rides go up to 2.5 million. All of these are according to the statistic released by Grab.
Grab has become so big that it has been rising up against global transportation technology company, Uber. This goes to prove how local startups could definitely compete in the international business scenes.
2. Sea Ltd.
Considered as Southeast Asia’s most valuable start-up by Bloomberg, Sea Ltd. definitely made this list. Formerly known as Garena, SEA has branched out of its gaming business to e-commerce with Shopee and AirPay.
Sea’s funding reached US$1.4 billion with $757 million raised in May. This came together with its rebranding from Garena to Sea Ltd.
Furthermore, the money will be used to expand Shopee in Indonesia; most especially since there are plans that China’s JD.com will invest on Tokopedia—Indonesia’s e-commerce giant.
More and more investors away from Singapore are also taking their bets with Sea. This September, Bloomberg reported that Sea raised about $884 million in its initial public offering in New York. 40 percent of its shares are also held by China’s Tencent.
Kai-Fu Lee, the founder of Beijing-based Sinovation Ventures, said of Sea: “Sea is a future-looking investment… Investors are betting that it can become the 800-pound gorilla that will make all the money it may have lost.”
3. AirTrunk Pte. Ltd.
AirTrunk Pte. Ltd. is another entry related to the internet category. The company designs and develops software solutions as well as large scale data centers. It offers big data application to customers in Singapore.
This 2017, AirTrunk received an estimated funding of US$307 million. However, in February it was reported that the company got US$400 million funding by Goldman Sachs and the private equity group, TPG.
It is to help build data centers in Sydney and Melbourne; alongside the data centers in Singapore and Hong Kong.
By September, AirTrunk has launched its flagship data center located in Western Sydney, Australia. This is the first hyperscale data center of the company in Australia while a facility in Melbourne was still under way of construction.
Now, all we can do is hope for more growth with this company who only broke cover just in July 2016. Within the span of more than a year after that, it has undeniably become one of the great successful start-ups Singaporeans should be proud of.
For those who love to stream videos online, then you are probably familiar with this fourth entry. HOOQ is a streaming service founded by SingTel, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros.
Though having its roots in Singapore, HOOQ initially launched in the Philippines; which was then followed by Thailand, India, and Indonesia. Just November of last years, it finally touched down and launched on its home base.
Up until this year, HOOQ has received a total of US$95 million of funding. Its biggest investor is SingTel who invested an additional SG$23.7 million, or approximately US$15.5 million, this January. SingTel now holds 65 percent while Sony and Warner takes 17.5 percent each.
You may have known HOOQ as an Asian Netflix. However, this application is more than what its global counterpart offers. HOOQ offers content that are focused on local markets. It also include a carrier billing and download options, both of which Netflix lacked.
5. Trax Image Recognition
Founded only in 2010, this startup company definitely made it big time. Trax Image Recognition is a technology company headquartered in Singapore. It now has offices throughout ACPAC, Europe, Middle East, North America and South America.
The main operation of Trax Image Recognition is produce image recognition and analytics tech that is used in retail. Furthermore, its computer vision technology is now used by FMCG companies like Coca-Cola.
The company helps in collecting, measuring, and analyzing what is happening on physical shelves.
True to its becoming big, Trax Image Recognition reached a total funding of US$83.5 million. Just last year, Trax raised $40 million in a Seriec C funding round. This was to be used in new product innovation and development.
Furthermore, in February of 2017, it has received another funding worth $19.5 million from lead investor Investec Bank. This will help push image recognition software to analyze store shelves automatically.
With the popularity and growing value of bitcoin and other cyrptocurrency, TenX definitely knows what to serve. TenX is a digital wallet and physical card that makes cryptocurrencies spendable through a debit card. This FinTech Company has been aiming to make “any blockchain asset spendable instantly”.
You can get the TenX wallet on Android, iOS, and web. Currently, the multi-currency wallet only supports Bitcoin. However, it will soon include Ethereum, Dash, and all ERC20 tokens.
Also, beginning in the third quarter of 2018, TenX will expand beyond their debit cards and give other asset classes like ETFs and derivatives a try. TenX will be releasing developer tools for other start-ups, businesses, and merchants as well. This will be tied in to their COMIT Network.
Apart from the rest, Sunseap is a start-up company that is considered as the largest renewable energy provider in Singapore. It has regional operations in South East Asia Pacific; with over 3 decades of experience building and developing clean energy solutions.
Sunseap now has a total funding of US$79.8 million. This May, the company announced that it has raised US$4.8 million in funding. This will be used to fuel its expansion plans in Singapore as well as Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.
The round of funding has brought the company’s valuation to US$143 million. According to Tech in Asia database, it is one among the top 10 in Southeast Asia.
Currently, the investors of Sunseap include US bank Goldman Sachs and Singapore-based investment holding company TRIREC. Together with them is ISOTeam Limited which has US$3.6 million worth of Sunseap preferred shares.
Under the FinTech category, KyberNetwork made it to this list with US$60 million. KyberNetwork’s main services include exchanging and conversion of digital assets. This blockchain start-up company based in Singapore is founded by PhD student Luu The Loi.
KyberNetwork recently raised US$52 million worth of ether (ETH) tokens during its recent Initial Coin Offering (ICO) token sale. It has now over 60,000 community members. 33,000 members of it came from its Slack Channel. This following made KyberNetwork one of the world’s largest Slack Community.
Furthermore, the start-up company’s ICO has the support of more than 21,000 people from over 100 countries. It must be noted that this was only launched on September 15 this year.
Loi, together with his team, raised 200,000 ETH; which is equivalent to US$52 million, in a little over a day. For this reason, KyberNetwork became on par with the world’s top ten blockchain startups in terms of amount raised in 2017.
Another entry on our list is broadband provider, MyRepublic. This start-up company is a multinational Internet company stationed in Singapore. It was formed to leverage Singapore’s Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN).
Since its launch in 2011, MyRepublic has expanded to three other countries, namely Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia.
The company’s primary service is offering fibre broadband in all four countries. It also offers ADSL plans and VDSL services as well as cable TV packages. The company has a combined subscriber of 200,000.
With all of these, MyRepublic received a fund worth US$52 million from Makara Innovation Fund (MIF). This marks the fund’s first publicly announced investment. Just July of last year, it raised roughly $32 million.
10. Singapore Life
Finally, the last entry on our list is Singapore Life. Singapore Life is an insurance provider under the category of insurtech. Just April of this year, Singapore Life announced that it has raised a big amount of US$50 million for its series A round.
There is not much to say about Singapore Life even when it was founded in 2014. It has even confused some of the most known websites in the business.
The company only offered this: “provide state-of-the-art, long-term life and savings solutions for customers that value simplicity, safety, and security.”
However, even with that, Singapore Life is backed by big investors including Impact Capital Holdings which is a subsidiary of Credit China Fintech Holdings. Impact Capital is reported to hold 33.8 percent of shares from their investment of US$21.3 million by Singapore Life.
Furthermore, when asked for more details, a spokesperson only replied that more details will be shred later. They are still waiting for approval from local authorities. For a start-up to announce it received this amount of funding, the details are definitely one to watch.