MIS Asia — How big is the Internet of Things? It’s a bit of a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question but it’s a fair starting assumption that this piece of string will be very long indeed and any company that can act as an IoT platform stands a good chance of being very significant indeed. One company wanting in on the action is Kii Corporation, a Tokyo-headquartered startup led by Masanari Arai, a one-time IBM ThinkPad, IntelliSync and Nokia executive.
Want China Times — Baichuan, a mobile open platform launched by Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group last October, announced on July 16 that it plans to provide 1 billion yuan (US$161 million) in funds and 1 billion yuan in short-term loans for start-ups in China to develop mobile apps on the platform, reports West China City News.
Myanmar Times — The placement values MySQUAR – the developer of local-language messenger app MyChat – at about £18.5 million. “MySQUAR is now at the forefront of the country’s technological revolution and the success of the AIM flotation will send a powerful, positive signal to the country’s entrepreneurs and to inward-investors alike,” said MySQUAR CEO Eric Schaer in a statement on the AIM admission.
Korea Times — U.S.-based mobile chip giant Qualcomm will invest up to 100 billion won ($90 million) in Korean startups to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the economy. The decision comes after its executive chairman, Paul E. Jacobs, visited Korea to celebrate Qualcomm’s 30th anniversary and 25 years of relations with Korea.
Digital News Asia — IF there is one thing that isn’t a problem for startups under the care of Microsoft Ventures’ accelerator programme in Beijing, it’s funding. Or so says Frances Du, director of the software giant’s startup investment and accelerator arm in the Greater China Region, speaking to the media during a recent familiarisation tour hosted at the company’s office in Beijing.
KUALA Lumpur-based Offpeak Hub Sdn Bhd, a 10-month old startup that is positioning itself as the Agoda (a hotel accommodation booking site) of the food and beverage (F&B) industry, has just raised US$800,000 from Chinese venture capital firm Gobi Partners. The investment comes out of Gobi’s South-East Asia-focused fund based in Singapore, and will help Offpeak accelerate its regional rollout to at least three more countries by the end of 2015, starting with Bangkok in Thailand within the next few weeks.
I’ve been covering the Vietnamese startup scene for the last three years, and I can tell you, it’s been through hell and back. When I first arrived in December 2012, my first article was on the fall of Nhom Mua, a very controversial daily deals site that was rumored to be pulling in $2 million in revenue per month (it was acquired last year by a local competitor). In the aftermath, Vietnam’s startup scene reeled. But it remained resilient.
NEW DELHI: Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn Technology Group is scouting for the best deals in the Indian startup market — with help from two of India’s top entrepreneurs Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal — joining a growing list of global corporations looking for a share of the action in one of the world’s most dynamic startup hubs. Over a dozen Indian startups met Wen-Hsin (Vincent) Tong, chairman and director of investments at FIH Mobile Limited, an investment arm of Foxconn, at the New Delhi office of Snapdeal last weekend, according to two people with direct knowledge of the initiative.
Startup activity in France around Internet of Things continues to heat up. Following yesterday’s news that Samsung had taken an investment in Sigfox, today another IoT startup, Actility, announced that it has raised €22.5 million ($25 million), led by Ginko Ventures, the European investment arm of Foxconn. Others in the round include the carriers Orange (which has disclosed a €3 million stake), Swisscom and KPN, as well as Fonds Ecotechnologies managed by Bpifrance Investissement, Idinvest Partners, and Truffle Capital.
Aliyun, the largest cloud computing services provider in mainland China, is looking to burnish its credentials in Hong Kong through an initiative that supports the business expansion of local start-ups. A subsidiary of e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group, Aliyun has formed partnerships with Hong Kong public utility Towngas as well as telecommunications and information technology giant PCCW to help provide local start-ups with a range of cloud computing services.
KT and the Gyeonggi Center for Creative Economy & Innovation (G-CCEI) are supporting Korean start-ups to tap into global markets through KT’s global business networks. Following CommunicAsia 2015, the largest information and communications technology (ICT) exhibition and conference in the Asia-Pacific region being held in Singapore on June 2, KT and the G-CCEI announced on June 12 that it would support three domestic start-ups to participate in Orange Fabs’ International Demo Day held in Paris, France.
Last week, China’s State Council approved a host of new government programs aimed at helping out domestic startups, especially tech startups. The programs will allow startups to access more affordable land, government subsidies, tax breaks, cut prices on power and internet, and more. Other branches of the government is also mulling additional pro-startup plans like easing stock listing rules to and equity crowdfunding laws to make it easier for Chinese startups to raise money from the masses.
The monthly TiE Bangalore Product Showcase held this week featured six startups in e-commerce and m-commerce. The monthly events are a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to demonstrate and validate products to fellow startups and prospective investors – and face tough queries from an expert jury. See also my earlier coverage of the TiE Bangalore Mobile Product Showcase, IoT SIG, Eduthon,Business Hackathon, Retail Huddle, SMAC Day and South Asia Youth Entrepreneur Summit.
Founder Venkata Srinivas Meenavalli said, “Mr Amitabh Bachchan and his family have invested in Ziddu.com at a valuation of around $71 million.” Amitabh Bachchan has made prior business investments before, having acquired a 10 per cent stake in Just Dial in 2013 and maintaining a 3.4 percent equity stake in Stampede Capital, a financial technology firm specializing in cloud computing for financial markets.
BENGALURU: Rahul Chandra is managing director of Helion Ventures, the venture capital firm that’s perhaps the most bullish on mobile-first companies in India today — a partner once commented that he would not consider any startup that did not have a mobile app. However, Chandra himself has only 18 apps on his phone. “It is prime real estate,” the investor who has backed companies such as Make-MyTrip, TaxiForSure and Ezetap said about the space on this phone. “The people who have been incentivised with discounts may install something, but keep it for as little as a few hours.”
A former executive at Chinese smartphone and telecom equipment provider Huawei unveiled his new ecommerce venture at Beijing’s annual Global Mobile Internet Conference yesterday. Liu Jiangfeng, who spent 19 years at Huawei and rose to become the president of the company’s Glory smartphone division, says he has already secured US$100 million in angel funding, according to Sina Tech. If true, that could make it the largest angel round ever in China.
Although Google Play, the Android-based app store operated by Google, has yet to enter the Chinese market officially, it has been speeding up its efforts to help developers in China export and sell their apps to Google Play users in more than 130 countries, reports the Shanghai-based China Business News. Chris Yerga, vice president of engineering and head of Google Play in the Asia Pacific, said in an interview with Chinese media that since Google announced merchant support in China, it has set up a local team to help Chinese developers enter the global market.
Programs for civic-minded startups are few and far between. Singapore, however, is fortunate to have a number of them, and today it adds another to its number. Unframed, a social impact startupincubator, this afternoon launched a five-month program calledEnabling Change. The incubator is backed by Jan Croeni, a serial entrepreneur turned philanthropist who co-founded Deal.com.sg. For the incubation program, local telco Singtel will come on board as a strategic partner and majority funder.
Peer-to-peer lending startup Jimubox has just secured $84 million in series C funding. It comes seven months after the Beijing-based firm attracted US$37 million from Xiaomi and ShunWei Capital, a venture capital fund headed by the phone maker’s founder, Lei Jun. This time round the lead investor is UK’s Investec Bank. Haitong Kaiyuan Investment also joined in, along with new investors Mandra Capital and Zhong Capital Fund. Existing Jimubox backers Matrix China Partners, Xiaomi, Shunwei, Ventech China, and Magic Stone Alternative also threw in some cash.
Access to a whole new range of streaming movie and TV content is one step closer to viewers in Southeast Asia, as internet media startup iFlix has successfully completed a US$30 million funding round. iFlix’s parent company Catcha Group and telco Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company led the round. The funds will be used towards the continued rollout of the service throughout Southeast Asian territories, as well as acquiring the rights to more content and producing original content.