Export Bans on Malaysian Chicken and Indian Wheat Prompt Fears

Restricted so far in the name of domestic food security: Indian wheat, Malaysian chicken and Indonesian cooking oil. Experts warn of unwanted consequences.

#agriculture-and-farming, #far-east-south-and-southeast-asia-and-pacific-areas, #food, #food-insecurity, #indonesia, #international-trade-and-world-market, #malaysia, #protectionism-trade, #shortages, #singapore, #supply-chain

Singapore Executes Drug Smuggler Despite Concerns Over Mental Disability

Defense lawyers had argued that the Malaysian man should not be executed because he was not fully capable of understanding his actions and had been coerced.

#capital-punishment, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #intellectual-disabilities, #singapore, #smuggling

Book Review: “Supertall,” by Stefan Al

Stefan Al’s “Supertall” is a thoughtful inquiry into the new generation of skyscrapers, which are taller and more ubiquitous than their predecessors.

#al-stefan, #architecture, #billionairesrow-manhattan-ny, #buildings-structures, #hong-kong, #london-england, #new-york-city, #singapore, #supertall-how-the-worlds-tallest-buildings-are-reshaping-our-cities-and-our-lives-book, #urban-areas

Singapore’s Latest Ruling on Gay Sex Is ‘Cold Comfort,’ Activists Say

Plaintiffs had hoped the Court of Appeal would overturn the colonial-era law. Instead, the top court said it was not “an architect of social policy” and that any change was up to Parliament.

#homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #lee-hsien-loong, #men-and-boys, #politics-and-government, #singapore

In Singapore, Lunar New Year Is a Multicultural Feast

The ethnic diversity of the island nation shines through food during the two-week festivities.

#chinese-food-cuisine, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #lunar-new-year, #singapore

In France, Kamala Harris Asserts Herself as a Diplomatic Asset

The vice president met with President Emmanuel Macron of France, skirting recent U.S.-French tensions, and immersed herself in issues like Libya and cybersecurity.

#france, #guatemala, #harris-kamala-d, #singapore, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vice-presidents-and-vice-presidency-us, #vietnam

Rights Groups Urge Singapore Not to Execute Man With Mental Disability

The man, a Malaysian with an I.Q. of 69, was caught trying to smuggle an ounce and a half of heroin in 2009. Some are calling his planned hanging a human rights violation.

#amnesties-commutations-and-pardons, #capital-punishment, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #intellectual-disabilities, #malaysia, #nagaenthran-dharmalingam, #singapore

Singapore Struggles to Reopen After Vaccinations

Singapore’s experience offers lessons for other countries that want to reduce pandemic restrictions but have yet to deal with widespread infections.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #national-university-of-singapore, #singapore, #vaccination-and-immunization

Facebook revamps its business tool lineup following threats to its ad targeting business

Facebook today is announcing the launch of new products and features for business owners, following the threat to its ad targeting business driven by Apple’s new privacy features, which now allow mobile users to opt out of being tracked across their iOS apps. The social networking giant has repeatedly argued that Apple’s changes would impact small businesses that relied on Facebook ads to reach their customers. But it was not successful in getting any of Apple’s changes halted. Instead, the market is shifting to a new era focused more on user privacy, where personalization and targeting are more of an opt-in experience. That’s required Facebook to address its business advertiser base in new ways.

As the ability to track consumers declines — very few consumers are opting into tracking, studies find — Facebook is rolling out new features that will allow businesses to better position themselves in front of relevant audiences. This includes updates that will let them reach customers, advertise to customers, chat with customers across Facebook apps, generate leads, acquire customers and more.

The company earlier this year began testing a way for customers to explore businesses from underneath News Feed posts by tapping on topics they were interested in — like beauty, fitness, and clothing, and explore content from other related businesses. The feature allows people to come across new businesses that may also like, and would allow Facebook to create its own data set of users who like certain types of content. Over time, it could possibly even turn the feature into an ad unit, where businesses could pay for higher placement.

But for the time being, Facebook will expand this feature to more users across the U.S., and launch it in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.K.

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook is also making it easier for businesses to chat with customers. They’re already able to buy ads that encourage people to message them on Facebook’s various chat platforms — Messenger, Instagram Direct, or WhatsApp. Now, they’ll be able to choose all the messaging platforms where they’re available, and Facebook will default the chat app showcased in the ad based on where the conversation is most likely to happen.

Image Credits: Facebook

The company will tie WhatsApp to Instagram, as well, as part of this effort. Facebook explains that many businesses market themselves or run shops across Instagram, but rely on WhatsApp to communicate with customers and answer questions. So, Facebook will now allow businesses to add a WhatsApp click-to-chat button to their Instagram profiles.

This change, in particular, represents another move that ties Facebook’s separate apps more closely together, at a time when regulators are considering breaking up Facebook over antitrust concerns. Already, Facebook interconnected Facebook’s Messenger and Instagram messaging services, which would make such a disassembly more complicated. And more recently, it’s begun integrating Messenger directly into Facebook’s platform itself.

Image Credits: Facebook

In a related change, soon businesses will be able to create ads that send users directly to WhatsApp from the Instagram app. (Facebook also already offers ads like this.)

Separately from this news, Facebook announced the launch of a new business directory on WhatsApp, allowing consumers to find shops and services on the chat platform, as well.

Another set of changes being introduced involve an update to Facebook Business Suite. Businesses will be able to manage emails through Inbox and sending remarketing emails; use a new File Manager for creating, managing, and posting content; and access a feature that will allow businesses to test different versions of a post to see which one is most effective.

Image Credits: Facebook

Other new products include tests of paid and organic lead generation tools on Instagram; quote requests on Messenger, where customers answer a few questions prior to their conversations; and a way for small businesses to access a bundle of tools to get started with Facebook ads, which includes a Facebook ad coupon along with free access to QuickBooks for 3 months or free access to Canva Pro for 3 months.

Image Credits: Facebook

Facebook will also begin testing something called “Work Accounts,” which will allow business owners to access their business products, like Business Manager, separately from their personal Facebook account. They’ll be able to manage these accounts on behalf of employees and use single-sign-on integrations.

Work Accounts will be tested through the remainder of the year with a small group of businesses, and Facebook says it expects to expand availability in 2022.

Other efforts it has in store include plans to incorporate more content from creators and local businesses and new features that let users control the content they see, but these changes were not detailed at this time.

Most of the products being announced are either rolling out today or will begin to show up soon.

#advertising-tech, #app-store, #australia, #canada, #canva, #computing, #facebook, #instagram, #ireland, #malaysia, #messenger, #new-zealand, #philippines, #private-message, #singapore, #social, #social-media, #software, #south-africa, #technology, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #whatsapp

India and Singapore to link their payments systems to enable ‘instant and low-cost’ cross-border transactions

India and Singapore are working to link their digital payments systems to enable “instant, low-cost fund transfers,” in a major push to disrupt cross-border transactions, the central banks of the two nations said on Tuesday.

The project to link India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Singapore’s PayNow is targeted for operationalization by July 2022, Reserve Bank of India said. Users on either of the systems will be able to make transactions to one another without having to sign up to the second platform, the banks said.

“When implemented, fund transfers can be made from India to Singapore using mobile phone numbers, and from Singapore to India using UPI virtual payment addresses (VPA). The experience of making a PayNow transfer to a UPI VPA will be similar to that of a domestic transfer to a PayNow VPA,” said Monetary Authority of Singapore in a press statement.

UPI, a payments infrastructure developed by a coalition of retail banks, has become the most popular digital payments method in India. The railroads, adopted by scores of local and global firms including Google and Facebook, is now processing over 3 billion transactions each month. Like UPI, Singapore’s PayNow also brings interoperability between banks and payments apps, allowing user from one payment app to make transaction to those on other apps.

“The UPI-PayNow linkage is a significant milestone in the development of infrastructure for cross-border payments between India and Singapore, and closely aligns with the G20’s financial inclusion priorities of driving faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border payments,” India’s central bank said in a statement.

“The linkage builds upon the earlier efforts of NPCI International Private Limited (NIPL) and Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS) to foster cross-border interoperability of payments using cards and QR codes, between India and Singapore and will further anchor trade, travel and remittance flows between the two countries. This initiative is also in line with RBI’s vision of reviewing corridors and charges for inbound cross-border remittances outlined in the Payment Systems Vision Document 2019-21.”

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#asia, #government, #india, #payments, #singapore, #tc

Southeast Asia-focused Jungle Ventures announces $225M first close for its fourth fund

A group photo of Jungle Ventures' team:(From left to right) Jungle Ventures’ founding partner Amit Anand, managing partner David Gowdey and founding partner Anurag Srivastava

(From left to right) Jungle Ventures’ founding partner Amit Anand, managing partner David Gowdey and founding partner Anurag Srivastava

Southeast Asia’s funding boom is set to continue, with Jungle Ventures announcing today the $225 million first close of its fourth fund. Fund IV started raising in mid-May and is targeting a total of $350 million.

The majority of its limited partners are returning from previous funds, and include Temasek Holdings, IFC (which put $25 million in Fund IV), DEG and Asian and global family offices. The firm says this makes Fund IV the largest fund across all early-stage funds in Southeast Asia this year.

Founded in 2012, Jungle Ventures launched with a $10 million debut fund. Then in 2016, it announced a $100 million second fund, followed in 2019 by its $240 million third fund.

Fund IV fits in with Jungle Ventures’ pace of raising a new fund every 2.5 to 3 years, founding partner Amit Anand told TechCrunch. It also happens to come at a time when the region is getting more attention—and capital.

“If you look at Southeast Asia, where we are today, the ecosystem has been in the works for a long time. We started the journey back in 2012. We’re one of the oldest funds in the region and we haven’t seen as good a time as today to be in the tech ecosystem in Southeast Asia,” he said.

“Opportunity and talent were always obvious in the region, and I think capital has followed. But the recent exit announcements, whether acquisitions or the domestic and global IPOs, in many ways has completed the picture of Southeast Asia and made it a lot more attractive to everyone,” Anand added.

Jungle Ventures takes a concentrated approach and tends to invest in about 12 to 13 companies per fund. It’s relatively stage-agnostic, writing seed to Series B checks and builds long-term partnerships with many of its investments. The firm has invested in every round of several companies, including buy now, pay later startup Kredivo.

This approach has worked out well, said Anand. Companies from its 2016 Fund II include unicorns FinAccel and Moglist, and it is paying about 7x on the fund today. “A similar pattern is emerging out of the 2019 vintage,” he added, which includes investments like beauty e-commerce platform Sociolla and KiotVet, the largest point-of-sale and store management system for small retailers in Vietnam.

Fund IV will write checks ranging from about $1 million, to $15 million for Series B funds, and participate in follow-on rounds, too.

“We typically invest in a company when it has a little bit of a product-market fit in its home market, and then we can help regionalize the business,” Anand said. “This could be at seed, it could be A, it could be at B, it doesn’t matter to us.”

Jungle Ventures’ limited partners also do a significant amount of co-investments; in the last three to four years, LPs have invested close to $400 million in its portfolio startups.

In terms of sectors, Anand is particularly excited about social commerce. “I think social commerce is going to eclipse e-commerce by a huge margin in a market like Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is not just a story about the metro cities, it’s a story about multiple Tier 2, Tier 3 cities across different islands, different geographies. It’s also a geography where the social fabric is deeply engrained within communities.”

Jungle Ventures’ social commerce investments include Evermos, which sells halal and Sharia-compliant goods through agents to their communities.

The firm focuses primarily on Southeast Asia, but it also makes investments in India.

“The cross pollination of talent and ideas, learning and capital between Southeast Asia and India is very strong,” Anand said. “Southeast Asia, even though the ecosystem is growing a lot, the tech talent here in the region is still emerging, whereas India is a great source of tech talent, and we’ve enabled a lot of our portfolio companies to leverage that by opening up tech hubs in India.”

He added that “the focus for Indian investments is to help them expand to Southeast Asia as well and capture this opportunity, too.” One example from Jungle Ventures’ portfolio is interior design platform Livspace, which was founded in India, expanded in Singapore and will enter other Southeast Asia markets.

#fundings-exits, #india, #jungle-ventures, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #tc, #venture-capital

Is it so bad to take money from Chinese venture funds?

China is becoming a superpower in the tech industry. According to Straits Times, China is the only place in the world where it takes less than six years for a startup to become a unicorn — it takes seven years in the U.S., eight years in the U.K. and 11 years in Germany. Despite geopolitical tensions and recent amendments in CFIUS, it is hard to ignore China.

When I joined Runa Capital almost a year ago, my task was to help our portfolio companies enter the Chinese market, find the right partners and raise funding from Chinese investors. And almost on every call with our startups, colleagues from Runa or other global VCs, I heard: Is it a good idea to raise from a Chinese VC? Is it OK to co-invest with Chinese investors? I was surprised to learn that there is little research answering such questions, as there is a lack of adequate information in English about Chinese investments.

Access to the Chinese market seems to be an obvious reason to invite Chinese funds aboard, but only about 20% of Western startups with Chinese capital have operations in China.

So as a Mandarin-speaking specialist, I decided to fill this gap by conducting a study based on Chinese VC database ITjuzi (the Chinese version of Crunchbase) with the help of our powerful data science resources developed by Danil Okhlopkov.

Below, I will try to answer the following questions using statistics and a case-based approach:

  • How much do Chinese funds invest abroad?
  • What is the current trend?
  • Can Chinese investors bring any value to Western startups?
  • Who are the most active Chinese investors abroad?
  • In which areas can Chinese funds bring the most value?
  • What value can Chinese investors bring?
  • When is it better to invite a Chinese investor?

Chinese investors are interested in Western startups

After studying data from ITjuzi, we estimated that Chinese funds invested around $250 billion in 2020 (three times higher than the figure in Crunchbase). This figure puts Chinese VC investments only 30% lower than investments by U.S. funds, but three times that of U.K. funds and 12.5 times more than German funds.

Comparison of investment amount from different countries in 2020, $bn. Source: Crunchbase, ITjuzi

Fig. 1 — Comparison of investment from different countries in 2020, $bn. Source: Crunchbase, ITjuzi. Image Credits: Denis Kalinin

However, only 15% of investments in 2020 and 17% of investments in the first half of 2021 were in companies outside China, significantly lower than in 2019. This appears to be because during COVID, China’s economy recovered much faster than other countries’, so many Chinese investors preferred to redirect their capital flows to the domestic market.

On the other hand, there is great potential for overseas investments to rebound as soon as the borders reopen and the global economy starts to recover.

Dynamics of Chinese investments. $bn. Source: Crunchbase, ITjuzi

Fig. 2 — Dynamics of Chinese investments. $bn. Source: Crunchbase, ITjuzi. Image Credits: Denis Kalinin

We can also see that Chinese investors are eyeing European startups favorably, which is related to U.S.-China geopolitical tensions as well as the fact that the European VC market is becoming mature.

#china, #column, #ec-china, #ec-column, #ec-east-asia, #funding, #private-equity, #singapore, #startups, #tc, #unicorn, #venture-capital

Investors are doubling down on Southeast Asia’s digital economy

Southeast Asian tech companies are drawing the attention of investors around the world. In 2020, startups in the region raised over $8.2 billion, about four times more than they did in 2015. This trend continued in 2021, with regional M&A hitting a record high of $124.8 billion in the first half of 2021, up 83% from a year earlier.

This begs the question: Who exactly is investing in Southeast Asia?

Let’s explore the three key types of investors pouring money into and driving the growth of Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem.

Over 229 family offices have been registered in Singapore since 2020, with total assets under management of an estimated $20 billion.

Big tech

Southeast Asia has become an attractive market for U.S. and Chinese tech firms. Internet penetration here stands at 70%, higher than the global average, and digital adoption in the region remains nascent — it wasn’t until the pandemic that adoption of digital services such as e-wallets and online shopping took off.

China’s tech giants Tencent and Alibaba were among the first to support early e-commerce growth in Southeast Asia with investments in Sea Limited and Lazada, and have since expanded their footprint into other internet verticals. Alibaba has backed Akulaku, M-Pay (eMonkey), DANA, Wave Money and Mynt (GCash), while Tencent has invested in Voyager Innovations (PayMaya), SHAREit, iflix, Ookbee and Sanook.

U.S. tech firms have also recently entered the scene. In June 2020, Gojek closed a $3 billion Series F round from Google, Facebook, Tencent and Visa. Google, together with Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, invested some $350 million in Tokopedia in October. Meanwhile, Microsoft invested an undisclosed amount in Grab in 2018 and has invested $100 million in Indonesian e-commerce firm Bukalapak.

Venture capitalists

In Q1 2021, Southeast Asian startups raised $6 billion, according to DealStreetAsia, positioning 2021 as another record year for VC investment in the region.

The region is also rising in prominence as a destination for investment capital relative to the rest of Asia. Regional VC investment grew 5.2 times to $8.2 billion in 2020 from $1.6 billion in 2015, as we can see in the table below.

Venture capital investment by region 2015-2020

Image Credits: Jungle VC

Southeast Asia also has many opportunities for VC investment relative to its market size. From 2015 to 2020, China saw VC investment of nearly $300 per person; for Southeast Asia — despite a recent investment boom — this metric sits at just $47.50 per person, or just a sixth of that in China. This implies a substantial opportunity for investments to develop the region’s digital economy.

The region’s rising population and growth prospects are higher due to China’s population growth challenges, alongside the latter’s higher digital economy market saturation and maturity.

#alibaba, #asia, #asia-pacific, #bridgewater-associates, #china, #column, #e-commerce, #ec-column, #ec-southeast-asia-oceania, #facebook, #ggv-capital, #google, #internet-penetration, #james-dyson, #joseph-phua, #lazada, #lazada-group, #microsoft, #online-shopping, #paul-allen, #private-equity, #ray-dalio, #sergey-brin, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #temasek-holdings, #tencent, #tokopedia, #united-states, #venture-capital

Digital therapeutics startup Neuroglee raises $10M to help people with neurodegenerative conditions

Neuroglee Therapeutics, a startup developing digital therapeutics for people with neurodegenerative diseases, has raised a $10 million Series A led by Openspace Ventures and EDBI. The funding will be used to launch virtual neurology clinics and to support Neuroglee’s move to Boston. Other participants included Ramen Singh, the former chief executive officer of Mundipharma; Biofourmis co-founders Kuldeep Singh Rajput and Wendou Liu; and Eisai Co., the Japanese pharmaceutical that led Neuroglee’s last round last year.

In an email, founder and chief executive officer Aniket Singh Rajput told TechCrunch that the company is moving to Boston because the city “is one of the largest digital health hubs in the world. As a company devoted to developing our first line of solutions for treating mild cognitive impairment related to difficult-to-treat neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, we believe Boston will offer us the strategic support in order to do so.”

Neuroglee and the Mayo Clinic are currently working together on a new platform called Neuroglee Connect. Based on the Mayo Clinic’s 10-day in-person program HABIT (Health Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking) for people with mild cognitive impairment from possible neurodegenerative conditions, Neuroglee’s technology will enable HABIT to scale, making it available to patients and caregivers in their homes. Neuroglee Connect users will also have access to health navigators who are available 24 hours and clinical care teams for assessments and interventions.

Neuroglee’s product pipeline also includes digital therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease and strokes.

Since Neuroglee’s previous funding announcement in December 2020, Rajput said it has hit milestones like the successful product development of NG-001, its prescription digital therapy software for Alzheimer’s, and began work on its proof-of-concept study to earn NG-001 a Breakthrough Designation from the Federal Drug Administration.

Neuroglee’s adaptive learning tech uses machine learning and biomarkers related to cognitive function, mood and behavior to automatically personalize therapy plans for each patient, who access the software through a smartphone or tablet.

“For example, adjustments will be made to the number and type of tasks and games that are offered, based on the speed of the patient’s finger movements, time to complete games or tasks, and their facial expression identified through the device camera,” said Rajput. “The solution also incorporates reminiscence therapy, which uses images from the patient’s past to evoke positive memories and emotions, which have been shown to improve cognitive functioning.”

 

#alzheimers, #asia, #boston, #digital-therapeutics, #fundings-exits, #neurodegenerative-disease, #neuroglee, #neuroglee-therapeutics, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

E-commerce aggregator Rainforest raises $20M just months after its last funding

Four months after its last funding announcement, Singapore-based e-commerce aggregator Rainforest has closed a $20 million pre-Series A round led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. Other participants included January Capital, Crossbeam Venture Partners, Amasia and Lo & Behold Group, along with returning investors Nordstar and Insignia Venture Partners.

Rainforest announced in May that it had raised $6.55 million in equity and a $30 million debt facility to fund acquisitions. The company says its latest raise means it now has more than $50 million to spend on acquiring e-commerce brands.

Founded by former Carousell and Fave executives, Rainforest buys mostly Asia-based Amazon brands and wants to become the e-commerce version of consumer goods conglomerate Newell Brands.

Co-founder and chief executive officer J.J. Chai told TechCrunch in an email that Rainforest raised funding again because it’s doubled its portfolio since the last round and also has “a number of sizable acquisitions in the pipeline.” The company originally intended to raise about $8 million to $12 million to add to its seed round, but increased that amount to $20 million because of investor interest, he added. In addition to brand acquisitions, the funding will also be used on hiring and building its tech infrastructure.

Chai said Rainforest raised only equity this time because it hasn’t finished using the debt facility it got from Accial earlier this year.

Since launching in January 2021, Rainforest has acquired six brands, including one from China for $3.6 million, marking its first foray into the country, and plans to triple its brand portfolio by the end of this year. After buying brands, Rainforest scales them up through inventory management, cost optimization and expansions into new marketplaces and distribution channel. The company claims its portfolio brands have seen over 50% improvement in annual growth rates after their acquisitions.

Rainforest also announced it has hired Yev Ivanko, previously co-founder and CEO at NimbleSeller, as its vice president of acquisitions, and Christine Ng, who has worked in marketing and branding at Sephora, ShopStyle, Luxola and Shopbop, as its new vice president of brands.

#e-commerce, #e-commerce-aggregator, #fundings-exits, #rainforest, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

The Delta Variant and China’s Need to Change Its Covid-19 Policy

The benefits of the zero-infections policy have dropped in relation to the costs of implementation, and there are signs it is becoming counterproductive.

#australia, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-delta-variant, #coronavirus-reopenings, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #economic-conditions-and-trends, #international-relations, #international-trade-and-world-market, #nanjing-china, #national-bureau-of-statistics-china, #new-zealand, #politics-and-government, #singapore, #travel-warnings, #vaccination-and-immunization, #wechat-mobile-app, #wuhan-china

Singapore-based caregiving startup Homage raises $30M Series C

Homage, the caregiving-focused startup, has raised a $30 million Series C led by Sheares Healthcare Group, which is wholly-owned by investment firm Temasek. Other participants included new investors DG Daiwa Ventures and Sagana Capital, and returning backers East Ventures (Growth), HealthXCapital, SeedPlus, Trihill Capital and Alternate Ventures.

The new funding will be used to develop Homage’s technology, continue integrating with aged and disability care payer and provider infrastructure and speed-up its regional expansion through partnerships with hospitals and care providers. Homage currently operates in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

The Singapore-based company’s services include home visits from caregivers, nurses, therapists and doctors; telemedicine; and services for chronic illnesses. One of the reasons Homage’s platform is able to scale up is its matching engine, which helps clients, like older adults and people living with chronic conditions, find providers who are best suited to their needs (the final matches are made by Homage’s team).

The startup says the round was oversubscribed and one of the largest fundings raised by an on-demand care platform in Southeast Asia and Oceania so far. It brings Homage’s total raised to more than $45 million.

As part of Series C, Sheares Healthcare Group chief corporate development officer Khoo Ee Ping will join Homage’s board of directors.

Homage now has a regional network of more than 6,000 pre-screened and trained care professionals. It claims that its business outside of Singapore has grown more than 600% year-over-year in 2021, and it has more than tripled revenue over the past year.

#asia, #caregiving, #elder-care, #fundings-exits, #health, #homage, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #telemedicine

Don’t Mind the Gap in Intergenerational Housing

Several new developments make a point of mixing age groups, because who wants to enter the golden years surrounded by only old people?

#affordable-housing, #baby-boomers, #elderly, #public-and-subsidized-housing, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #retirement-communities-and-assisted-living, #sage-advocacy-and-services-for-lgbt-elders, #singapore, #united-states

Southeast Asia “omnichannel” health startup Doctor Anywhere gets $88M SGD

Doctor Anywhere, a startup that takes an “omnichannel” approach to healthcare, announced today it has raised $88 million SGD (about $65.7 million USD) in Series C funding. The round was led by Asia Partners, with participation from Novo Holdings, Philips and OSK-SBI Partners. It also included returning investors EDBI, Square Peg, IHH Healthcare, Kamet Capital and Pavilion Capital. 

As part of the round, Asia Partners co-founder Oliver Rippel and Novo Holdings Equity Asia senior partner Dr. Amit Kakar will join Doctor Anywhere’s board of directors. The company’s Series C, which it claims is one of the largest private rounds raised by a Southeast Asian healthtech company, brings its total funding to more than $140 million SGD. 

Doctor Anywhere’s omnichannel approach means that in addition to online consultations, it runs in-person clinics, provides home visits, medication deliveries and operates an in-app marketplace for health and wellness products. 

Founded in 2017 by Lim Wai Mun, Doctor Anywhere claims it now serves more than 1.5 million users. It is available in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, and recently established tech hubs in Bangalore and Ho Chi Minh City. 

Lim told TechCrunch in an email that when he started working on Doctor Anywhere, there were already successful telemedicine platforms in the United States, the United Kingdom and China, but the model was still nascent in Southeast Asia. A former investor, Lim began Doctor Anywhere as a side project because he had older relatives who could not leave their homes for medical visits. 

Doctor Anywhere launched as an online-only telehealth platform, but “we quickly realized that physical presence is very important in order to build trust with users,” Lim said. As a result, the company started its home care services and physical clinics. 

According to Doctor Anywhere’s estimates, the COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of telehealth services in Southeast Asia by at least five years. The company saw more demand for online medical consultations, medication deliveries and marketplace purchases. 

“In the past year, we have more than doubled the size of our network, from around 1,000 providers at the start of 2020 to currently close to 2,500 medical professionals across Southeast Asia,” Lim said. 

In response to the pandemic, Doctor Anywhere launched an online COVID-19 Medical Advisory Clinic last year to provide on-demand consultations for people with suspected symptoms. It also created an online mental wellness module with psychologists. Lim said the company has seen an increase in demand for mental health-related services, like insomnia and anxiety. 

Other telehealth startups in the region include WhiteCoat, Speedoc and Doctor World. Lim said Doctor Anywhere wants to differentiate by quickly launching new products in response to user inquiries, and “cultivating a balance between technology and human touch.” 

The funding will be used to deepen Doctor Anywhere’s presence in its current markets and expand into new ones. It also plans to scale its tech infrastructure and big data capabilities for a better online-to-offline user experience, and will introduce new medical specialty modules, shorten medication delivery times and develop personalized healthcare plans. 

#asia, #fundings-exits, #health, #medical, #medicine, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine

Korean 3D spatial data tool startup Urbanbase closes $11.1M Series B+ round

Urbanbase, a Seoul-based company that develops a 3D spatial data platform for interior planning and design, announced today it has raised $11.1 million (13 billion won) in a Series B+ round as it scales up.

This round of funding was led by Hanwha Hotel & Resort, which is a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Corporation.

Urbanbase, founded in 2013 by chief executive officer and a former architect Jinu Ha, has now raised $20 million (approximately 23 billion won) in total.

Existing investors did not join this round. The company had raised Series A funding of $1.8 million and an additional $1.2 million in 2017 and its first Series B round in April 2020, from backers that included South Korea-based Shinsegae Information & Communication, Woomi Construction, SL Investment, KDB Capital, Shinhan Capital, Enlight Ventures, CKD Venture Capital, and Breeze Investment, Ha said.

The latest funding will be used for enhancing its B2B SaaS, investing in R&D for advanced virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 3D tools, which are considered core technologies of metaverse that is its new business Urbanbase plans to enter, according to Ha. Global metaverse market size is projected to increase $280 billion by 2025 from $30.7 billion in 2021, based on Strategy Analytics’ report.

Companies that focus on opportunities in the so-called “metaverse” have been growing as part of a next-generation approach to building viable business models in areas like virtual and augmented reality, and all the hardware and software and new tech that are being built for them. Big tech corporations, ranging from Facebook, Intel to Microsoft, are targeting to move in the area. Apple also waded into the area of virtual reality, working on developing a high-end VR headset.

Urbanbase also plans to upgrade its home interior software platform, Urbanbase Studio, that has functions to transform 2D indoor space images into 3D displays via Urbanbase’s patented algorithm, visualize interior products in augmented reality and analyze spatial images based on the AI technology.

Urbanbase claims 50,000 monthly active users with 70,000 registered B2C users. The company has about 50 B2B customers.

“Most of our B2B clients are large conglomerates in South Korea and Japan, for example, LG Electronics, Japan-based Mitsubishi Real Estate Service, Nitori Holdings, Dentsu Group and SoftBank, but we would like to extend our B2B clients base to small, midsized companies and bring more B2C users after closing the Series B+ funding,” Ha mentioned.

Urbanbase is seeking an acquisition target in prop-tech and construction technology sectors, Ha told TechCrunch. Urbanbase currently focuses on developing the interior tools for apartment buildings because about 70-80 percent of total households in South Korea and Japan live in apartments, Ha said, adding that it will diversify its portfolio by acquiring a startup that covers different types of residence.

It currently operates the platform in Korean and Japanese, but it will add English language service prior to entering in Singapore in the end of 2021, Ha said.

#artifical-intelligence, #artificial-intelligence, #asia, #augmented-reality, #funding, #japan, #metaverse, #saas, #singapore, #south-korea, #startups, #tc, #virtual-reality

Kamala Harris, in Southeast Asia and in Uniform

The vice president’s solo international trip set a tone, and a standard.

#fashion-and-apparel, #hanoi-vietnam, #harris-kamala-d, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #suits-apparel, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #women-and-girls, #your-feed-fashion

UK names John Edwards as its choice for next data protection chief as gov’t eyes watering down privacy standards

The UK government has named the person it wants to take over as its chief data protection watchdog, with sitting commissioner Elizabeth Denham overdue to vacate the post: The Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today said its preferred replacement is New Zealand’s privacy commissioner, John Edwards.

Edwards, who has a legal background, has spent more than seven years heading up the Office of the Privacy Commissioner In New Zealand — in addition to other roles with public bodies in his home country.

He is perhaps best known to the wider world for his verbose Twitter presence and for taking a public dislike to Facebook: In the wake of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal Edwards publicly announced that he was deleting his account with the social media — accusing Facebook of not complying with the country’s privacy laws.

An anti-‘Big Tech’ stance aligns with the UK government’s agenda to tame the tech giants as it works to bring in safety-focused legislation for digital platforms and reforms of competition rules that take account of platform power.

If confirmed in the role — the DCMS committee has to approve Edwards’ appointment; plus there’s a ceremonial nod needed from the Queen — he will be joining the regulatory body at a crucial moment as digital minister Oliver Dowden has signalled the beginnings of a planned divergence from the European Union’s data protection regime, post-Brexit, by Boris Johnson’s government.

Dial back the clock five years and prior digital minister, Matt Hancock, was defending the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a “decent piece of legislation” — and suggesting to parliament that there would be little room for the UK to diverge in data protection post-Brexit.

But Hancock is now out of government (aptly enough after a data leak showed him breaching social distancing rules by kissing his aide inside a government building), and the government mood music around data has changed key to something far more brash — with sitting digital minister Dowden framing unfettered (i.e. deregulated) data-mining as “a great opportunity” for the post-Brexit UK.

For months, now, ministers have been eyeing how to rework the UK’s current (legascy) EU-based data protection framework — to, essentially, reduce user rights in favor of soundbites heavy on claims of slashing ‘red tape’ and turbocharging data-driven ‘innovation’. Of course the government isn’t saying the quiet part out loud; its press releases talk about using “the power of data to drive growth and create jobs while keeping high data protection standards”. But those standards are being reframed as a fig leaf to enable a new era of data capture and sharing by default.

Dowden has said that the emergency data-sharing which was waived through during the pandemic — when the government used the pressing public health emergency to justify handing NHS data to a raft of tech giantsshould be the ‘new normal’ for a post-Brexit UK. So, tl;dr, get used to living in a regulatory crisis.

A special taskforce, which was commissioned by the prime minister to investigate how the UK could reshape its data policies outside the EU, also issued a report this summer — in which it recommended scrapping some elements of the UK’s GDPR altogether — branding the regime “prescriptive and inflexible”; and advocating for changes to “free up data for innovation and in the public interest”, as it put it, including pushing for revisions related to AI and “growth sectors”.

The government is now preparing to reveal how it intends to act on its appetite to ‘reform’ (read: reduce) domestic privacy standards — with proposals for overhauling the data protection regime incoming next month.

Speaking to the Telegraph for a paywalled article published yesterday, Dowden trailed one change that he said he wants to make which appears to target consent requirements — with the minister suggesting the government will remove the legal requirement to gain consent to, for example, track and profile website visitors — all the while framing it as a pro-consumer move; a way to do away with “endless” cookie banners.

Only cookies that pose a ‘high risk’ to privacy would still require consent notices, per the report — whatever that means.

“There’s an awful lot of needless bureaucracy and box ticking and actually we should be looking at how we can focus on protecting people’s privacy but in as light a touch way as possible,” the digital minister also told the Telegraph.

The draft of this Great British ‘light touch’ data protection framework will emerge next month, so all the detail is still to be set out. But the overarching point is that the government intends to redefine UK citizens’ privacy rights, using meaningless soundbites — with Dowden touting a plan for “common sense” privacy rules — to cover up the fact that it intends to reduce the UK’s currently world class privacy standards and replace them with worse protections for data.

If you live in the UK, how much privacy and data protection you get will depend upon how much ‘innovation’ ministers want to ‘turbocharge’ today — so, yes, be afraid.

It will then fall to Edwards — once/if approved in post as head of the ICO — to nod any deregulation through in his capacity as the post-Brexit information commissioner.

We can speculate that the government hopes to slip through the devilish detail of how it will torch citizens’ privacy rights behind flashy, distraction rhetoric about ‘taking action against Big Tech’. But time will tell.

Data protection experts are already warning of a regulatory stooge.

While the Telegraph suggests Edwards is seen by government as an ideal candidate to ensure the ICO takes a “more open and transparent and collaborative approach” in its future dealings with business.

In a particularly eyebrow raising detail, the newspaper goes on to report that government is exploring the idea of requiring the ICO to carry out “economic impact assessments” — to, in the words of Dowden, ensure that “it understands what the cost is on business” before introducing new guidance or codes of practice.

All too soon, UK citizens may find that — in the ‘sunny post-Brexit uplands’ — they are afforded exactly as much privacy as the market deems acceptable to give them. And that Brexit actually means watching your fundamental rights being traded away.

In a statement responding to Edwards’ nomination, Denham, the outgoing information commissioner, appeared to offer some lightly coded words of warning for government, writing [emphasis ours]: “Data driven innovation stands to bring enormous benefits to the UK economy and to our society, but the digital opportunity before us today will only be realised where people continue to trust their data will be used fairly and transparently, both here in the UK and when shared overseas.”

The lurking iceberg for government is of course that if wades in and rips up a carefully balanced, gold standard privacy regime on a soundbite-centric whim — replacing a pan-European standard with ‘anything goes’ rules of its/the market’s choosing — it’s setting the UK up for a post-Brexit future of domestic data misuse scandals.

You only have to look at the dire parade of data breaches over in the US to glimpse what’s coming down the pipe if data protection standards are allowed to slip. The government publicly bashing the private sector for adhering to lax standards it deregulated could soon be the new ‘get popcorn’ moment for UK policy watchers…

UK citizens will surely soon learn of unfair and unethical uses of their data under the ‘light touch’ data protection regime — i.e. when they read about it in the newspaper.

Such an approach will indeed be setting the country on a path where mistrust of digital services becomes the new normal. And that of course will be horrible for digital business over the longer run. But Dowden appears to lack even a surface understanding of Internet basics.

The UK is also of course setting itself on a direct collision course with the EU if it goes ahead and lowers data protection standards.

This is because its current data adequacy deal with the bloc — which allows for EU citizens’ data to continue flowing freely to the UK — was granted only on the basis that the UK was, at the time it was inked, still aligned with the GDPR. So Dowden’s rush to rip up protections for people’s data presents a clear risk to the “significant safeguards” needed to maintain EU adequacy. Meaning the deal could topple.

Back in June, when the Commission signed off on the UK’s adequacy deal, it clearly warned that “if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene”.

Add to that, the adequacy deal is also the first with a baked in sunset clause — meaning it will automatically expire in four years. So even if the Commission avoids taking proactive action over slipping privacy standards in the UK there is a hard deadline — in 2025 — when the EU’s executive will be bound to look again in detail at exactly what Dowden & Co. have wrought. And it probably won’t be pretty.

The longer term UK ‘plan’ (if we can put it that way) appears to be to replace domestic economic reliance on EU data flows — by seeking out other jurisdictions that may be friendly to a privacy-light regime governing what can be done with people’s information.

Hence — also today — DCMS trumpeted an intention to secure what it billed as “new multi-billion pound global data partnerships” — saying it will prioritize striking ‘data adequacy’ “partnerships” with the US, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia.

Future partnerships with India, Brazil, Kenya and Indonesia will also be prioritized, it added — with the government department cheerfully glossing over the fact it’s UK citizens’ own privacy that is being deprioritized here.

“Estimates suggest there is as much as £11 billion worth of trade that goes unrealised around the world due to barriers associated with data transfers,” DCMS writes in an ebullient press release.

As it stands, the EU is of course the UK’s largest trading partner. And statistics from the House of Commons library on the UK’s trade with the EU — which you won’t find cited in the DCMS release — underline quite how tiny this potential Brexit ‘data bonanza’ is, given that UK exports to the EU stood at £294 billion in 2019 (43% of all UK exports).

So even the government’s ‘economic’ case to water down citizens’ privacy rights looks to be puffed up with the same kind of misleadingly vacuous nonsense as ministers’ reframing of a post-Brexit UK as ‘Global Britain’.

Everyone hates cookies banners, sure, but that’s a case for strengthening not weakening people’s privacy — for making non-tracking the default setting online and outlawing manipulative dark patterns so that Internet users don’t constantly have to affirm they want their information protected. Instead the UK may be poised to get rid of annoying cookie consent ‘friction’ by allowing a free for all on citizens’ data.

 

#artificial-intelligence, #australia, #brazil, #colombia, #data-mining, #data-protection, #data-security, #digital-rights, #elizabeth-denham, #europe, #european-union, #facebook, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #human-rights, #india, #indonesia, #john-edwards, #kenya, #korea, #matt-hancock, #new-zealand, #nhs, #oliver-dowden, #privacy, #singapore, #social-issues, #social-media, #uk-government, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Mental health startup Intellect gets $2.2M to expand across Asia

Intellect, a Singapore-based startup that wants to make mental health care more accessible in Asia, announced it has raised $2.2 million in pre-Series A funding. It is taking part in Y Combinator’s current batch, which will hold its Demo Day at the end of this month.

The round was led by returning investor Insignia Venture Partners and included participation from Y Combinator, XA Network and angel investors like Rainforest co-founder J.J. Chai; Prenetics and CircleDNA founder Danny Yeung; and Gilberto Gaeta, Google’s director of global HR operations.

This brings Intellect’s total funding since it launched a year ago to $3 million, including a seed round announced in December 2020 that was also led by Insignia.

Intellect offered two main product suites: a consumer app with self-guided programs based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, and a mental health benefits solution for employers with online therapy programs and telehealth services. The startup now claims more than 2.5 million app users, and 20 enterprise clients, including FoodPanda, Shopback, Carousell, Avery Dennison, Schroders and government agencies.

Founder and chief executive officer Theodoric Chew told TechCrunch that Intellect’s usage rate is higher than traditional EAP helpline solutions. On average, its mental health benefits solution sees about 20% to 45% engagement within three months after being adopted by companies with more than 5,000 employees.

In many Asian cultures, there is still a lot of stigma around mental health issues, but that has changed over the last year and a half as people continue to cope with the emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chew said. “From individuals, to companies, insurers and governments, all these different types of people and organizations are today prioritizing mental healthcare on an individual and organizational level in an extremely rapid manner.”

Intellect protects user privacy with zero-knowledge encryption, so the startup and employers don’t have access to people’s records or communications with their coaches and counsellors. Any insights shared with employers are aggregated and anonymized. Chew said the company is also compliant with major data privacy regulations like ISO, HIPAA and GDPR.

Intellect is currently collaborating in 10 studies with institutions like the National University of Singapore, King’s College London, University of Queensland and the Singapore General Hospital. It says studies so far have demonstrated improvements in mental well-being, stress levels and anxiety among its users.

The new funding will be used to expand into more Asian markets. Intellect currently covers 12 countries and 11 languages.

 

#asia, #cognitive-behavioral-therapy, #intellect, #mental-health, #mental-health-benefit, #online-therapy, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #therapy

Ai Palette raises $4.4M to help companies react faster to consumer trends

Developing new packaged foods and consumer goods can take a couple years as companies research, prototype and test products. In a society that runs on social media, however, people expect to see trends land on store shelves much more quickly. Founded in 2018, Ai Palette uses machine learning to help companies spot trends in real time and get them retail-ready, often within a few months. The startup, whose clients include Danone, Kellogg’s, Cargill and Dole, announced today it has raised an oversubscribed $4.4 million Series A co-led by pi Ventures and Exfinity Venture Partners. Both will join Ai Palette’s board.

The round also included participation from returning backers food tech venture firm AgFunder and Decacorn Capital, and new investor Anthill Ventures. It brings Ai Palette’s total raised to $5.5 million, including a seed round announced in 2019.

Ai Palette is based in Singapore, with an engineering hub in Bangalore. Its customer base started in Southeast Asia, before expanding into China, Japan, the United States and Europe.

Its customer base started in Southeast Asia and India, and expanded to China, Japan, the United States and Europe. Ai Palette supports 15 languages, which the company claims is the most of any AI-based tool for predicting consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends. Its funding will be used to expand into more markets and fill engineering and data science roles.

Ai Palette was founded in 2018 by chief executive officer Somsubhra GanChoudhuri and chief technology officer Himanshu Upreti, who met through Entrepreneur First, the “talent investor” that recruits and teams up potential founders.

Before Ai Palette, GanChoudhuri worked in sales and marketing at Givaudan, the world’s largest manufacturer of fragrances and flavors. This allowed him to see how product innovation is done for many types of consumer products, ranging from snacks and fast food to packaged goods. Many of the companies he worked with were beginning to realize that a two-year product innovation cycle could no longer meet demand. Upreti, an advanced machine learning and big data analysis expert, previously worked at companies including Visa, where he built models that can handle petabytes of data.

Ai Palette’s first product is Foresight Engine, which tracks trends like ingredients or flavors, analyzes why they are popular and predicts how long demand will last. It also identifies “white space opportunities,” or situations where there is unmet demand. For example, GanChoudhuri said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people eat — they are now eating health snacks up to six times a day in front of screens — so companies have the chance to release new kinds of products.

Foresight Engine gives contextual information, said Upreti. “For example, is a food item eaten on the go, or at a café. Is a product consumed socially or individually? What’s trending at kids’ birthday parties? For a specific product or ingredient, images provide information on product pairings and product format.”

The platform uses data from sources like social media, search, blogs, recipes, menus and company data. “Data sets popular to each market are prioritized, like a local recipe or a food delivery app,” said GanChoudhuri. “And they are tracked over the years to determine growth trajectory with a strong degree of confidence.”

Some specific examples of how Ai Palette’s tech has translated into new products include brands that want to launch a new flavor, like for a potato chip or soda, in a specific country. They can use the Foresight Engine to not only see what trends are rising, but which ones have the potential to become long-term favorites, so they don’t invest in a product that will almost instantly lose its popularity.

Many of Ai Palette’s clients have used it to react to new trends and consumer behavior patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, people in many markets are interested in healthy food or ones that are supposed to boost immunity. For example, in Southeast Asia there is more demand for lemon and garlic, while acerola and yerba mate are trending in the United States.

On the other hand, “in China, taste is paramount, even over health, because people are looking for food that brings back a sense of normalcy,” said GanChoudhuri. Meanwhile in India, there is demand for products with longer shelf life as people continue to cope with the pandemic, but many consumers are also seeking interesting snacks to ease the boredom of lockdown, with kimchi and other Korean flavors becoming especially popular.

Ai Palette’s ability to work with many languages is one of the ways it differentiates from other machine learning-based trend-prediction platforms. It currently supports English, simplified Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, Bahasa Melayu, Tagalog, Spanish, French and German, with plans to add more as it targets new European countries, Mexico, Latin America and the Middle East.

 

#artificial-intelligence, #asia, #consumer-packaged-goods, #exfinity-venture-partners, #food-tech, #fundings-exits, #pi-ventures, #product-development, #recent-funding, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc

In Southeast Asia, Kamala Harris Rebukes China

The vice president rebuked China and sought to fortify the image of the United States as a credible ally amid growing questions about Afghanistan.

#afghanistan-war-2001, #china, #harris-kamala-d, #lee-hsien-loong, #singapore, #south-china-sea, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vietnam

Y Combinator-backed Adra wants to turn all dentists into cavity-finding ‘super dentists’

Like other areas of healthcare, the dental industry is steadily embracing technology. But while much of it is in the orthodontic realm, other startups, like Adra, are bringing artificial intelligence into a dentist’s day-to-day workflow, particularly in finding cavities, of what will be a $435.08 billion global dental services market this year.

The Singapore-based company was founded in 2021, but was an idea that started last year. Co-founder Hamed Fesharaki has been a dentist for over a decade and owns two clinics in Singapore.

He said dentists learn to read X-rays in dental school, but it can take a few years to get good at it. Dentists also often have just minutes to read them as they hop between patients.

As a result, dentists end up misdiagnosing cavities up to 40% of the time, co-founder Yasaman Nemat said. Her background is in imaging, where she developed an artificial intelligence machine identifying hard-to-see cancers, something Fesharaki thought could also be applied to dental medicine.

Providing the perspective of a more experienced dentist, Adra’s intent is to make every dentist “a super dentist,” Fesharaki told TechCrunch. Its software detects cavities and other dental problems on dental X-rays faster and 25% more accurately, so that clinics can use that time to better serve patients and increase revenue.

Example of Adra’s software. Image Credits: Adra

“We are coming from the eye of an experienced dentist to help illustrate the problems by turning the X-rays into images to better understand what to look for,” he added. “Ultimately, the dentist has the final say, but we bring the experience element to help them compare and give them suggestions.”

By quickly pointing out the problem and the extent of it, dentists can decide in what way they want to treat it — for example, do a filling, a fluoride treatment or wait.

Along with third co-founder Shifeng Chen, the company is finishing up its time in Y Combinator’s summer cohort and has raised $250,000 so far. Fesharaki intends to do more formalized seed fundraising and wants to bring on more engineers to tackle user experience and add more features.

The company has a few clinics doing pilots and wants to attract more as it moves toward a U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance. Fesharaki expects it to take six to nine months to receive the clearance, and then Adra will be able to hit the market in late 2022 or early 2023.

#adra, #artificial-intelligence, #dentist, #dentistry, #enterprise, #funding, #hamed-fasharaki, #health, #healthcare, #imaging, #recent-funding, #saas, #shifeng-chen, #singapore, #startups, #tc, #y-combinator, #yasaman-nemat

Governments should invest in their diaspora founders

We are brainstorming a new solution to a widespread challenge in many countries: How to develop a self-sustaining, independent local tech ecosystem. We propose that governments should systematically support funding for their diaspora founders, not just founders locally.

There are three main players in any tech ecosystem:

  • The first are founders who want to build companies and need funding. In many ecosystems outside of the major tech hubs, founders face cultural, legal, reputational and other hurdles to building a successful tech company. As a result, many of them emigrate to the U.S. Immigrants contribute to the success of the U.S. innovation economy at a vastly disproportionate rate.
  • Next are VC firms looking for founders. In a very small number of geographies, there is no shortage of VC funds (NY, CA, Boston, Israel, Beijing). But in most cities in the world, there is only a relatively small number of VC funds.
  • Then you have national and local governmental organizations interested in promoting economic growth and job creation. They particularly want to see a thriving tech ecosystem generating high-paid jobs.

Our proposal is that many governments that are not major tech hubs (i.e., most countries excluding the U.S., China, Israel and India) should stop restricting themselves to supporting locally domiciled VC funds.

Many countries’ governments (Canada, France, etc.) have created or supported funds to invest in local VC managers. Usually, governments have a two-part goal: Achieve good returns and generate jobs. However, in many cases, these VC funds have failed on one or both counts.

There is a reason the definitive book on the topic has such a depressing title: “Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed — and What to Do about It,” by my former professor, Josh Lerner, head of the entrepreneurial management unit and the Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School.

Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tel Aviv ― the global hubs of entrepreneurial activity ―all bear the marks of government investment. Yet, for every public intervention that spurs entrepreneurial activity, there are many failed efforts that waste untold billions in taxpayer dollars … [The book] reveals the common flaws undermining far too many programs ― poor design, a lack of understanding for the entrepreneurial process, and implementation problems.

Our proposal is that many governments that are not major tech hubs (i.e., most countries excluding the U.S., China, Israel and India) should stop restricting themselves to supporting locally domiciled VC funds. Instead, they should consider investing in VC funds that invest in their diaspora.

We argue that this benefits the home country in three ways:

Remittances: Entrepreneurs will send money home to their families.

Brain gain: If you look at the leaders of the tech ecosystem in most countries, you will see a very disproportionate number of people who have education and work experience abroad, especially in the U.S. Diaspora entrepreneurs bring the knowledge and understanding acquired outside the country that may help them see possibilities not apparent to people who have not lived elsewhere. On the other hand, these entrepreneurs often encounter entrenched attitudes, resentment from non-migrants, and administrative barriers in bringing money, materials and equipment from abroad.

Job creation: Even if a French emigrant starts their business in New York, when they expand, France will be a logical place for a European HQ. In addition, as the firm grows, there are many functions they may set up in their home country, such as engineering, QA and customer support.

The private sector has already identified this opportunity. In New York City, there already exist numerous VC funds with particular interest in certain diasporas. For Israel, we have Elevator Fund, Hanaco, Innovation Endeavors, JANVEST Capital Partners, Pereg Ventures, Team8, numerous others. See “The ultimate guide to US investment in Israeli startups.”

For the Canadian diaspora, you have iNovia Capital and HOF Capital for people from MENA, while ff Venture Capital looks at Poland.

Governments could model these efforts on leading global public/private organizations that have supported diaspora entrepreneurs in many other ways.

Networking, mentoring and training: Governments can offer opportunities for diaspora and local business leaders to meet one another and discuss potential business and investment opportunities in the homeland. Many of these groups also offer startup services such as market research, business plan advisory, matching with seasoned executives and registering a business. A few such groups are the African Diaspora Network (ADN), The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) (Southeast Asia), Advance (Australia) based in New York, C100 (focused on Canadian tech leaders), GlobalScot, Irish Executive Mentorship Program and Red de Talentos Mexicanos.

Investment (almost entirely in the home country): Investment is typically in the form of pooled private and public funds, or matching grants, and typically requires a physical presence in the home country. A few such organizations include:

  • The African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit organization by Africans living in the U.K. to help expatriates there create wealth and jobs back home. Its investment activities include the Diaspora Finance Initiative (DFI), AFFORD Diaspora Grants and the AFFORD Business Club.
  • Moldova has a Pare 1+1 program that offers funding and entrepreneurial training to immigrants (and returnees) into Moldova.
  • Chile Global Ventures (part of Fundación Chile) finances startups through its network of over 100 influential Chileans living in the U.S., Canada and Europe. They invest in Chilean startups or companies abroad founded by Chileans.
  • Ecuador’s Fund El Cucayo provides risk capital in a matching-funding format, 50-50 or 25-75, to returning Ecuadorian entrepreneurs in Ecuador.

Recruiting new citizens: The Canadian Startup Visa Program is great for recruiting international talent. This is an enormous opportunity for Canada to further leverage its historic openness to immigrants. From my point of view as an American, our history of welcoming immigrants (including my French father) is one of our greatest advantages compared to our geopolitical rivals. We’re fools if we don’t aggressively leverage this unique asset.

So here’s our question: Which forward-thinking governments are open to the idea of supporting funding to their diaspora? In our conversations with some senior government officials outside of the U.S., what we’ve heard is, “We love the idea, but it would be difficult to get political support for anything that involves sending money abroad.”

Who can surmount this challenge?

#china, #column, #diaspora, #europe, #funding, #india, #israel, #opinion, #policy, #singapore, #startups, #tc

Revenue-based financing startup Jenfi raises $6.3M to focus on high-growth Southeast Asian companies

Many Southeast Asian digital businesses run into obstacles when seeking early-stage growth financing. They might not want to sell equity in their company, but often struggle to secure working capital loans from traditional financial institutions. That’s where Singapore-based Jenfi comes in, providing revenue-based financing of up to $500,000 with flexible repayment plans that co-founder and chief executive officer Jeffrey Liu refers to as “growth capital as a product.” 

While revenue-based financing is gaining traction in many other markets, Liu told TechCrunch that Singapore-based Jenfi is the first company of its kind focused on Southeast Asia. The startup announced today that it has raised a $6.3 million Series A led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. Participants included Korea Investment Partners and Golden Equator Capital, 8VC, ICU Ventures and Taurus Ventures. The company previously raised $25 million in debt financing from San Francisco-based Arc Labs. 

Jenfi works primarily with “digital-native” companies, including SaaS providers and e-commerce sellers. Some of its clients include Tier One Entertainment, Pay With Split and Homebase. Jenfi hasn’t disclosed how much non-dilutive financing it’s provided so far, but its goal is to deploy $15 million by July 2022. It claims that the average Jenfi customer experienced compounded sales growth of about 26.5% over three months, 60% over six months and 156% over twelve months.

The aggregate sales of companies in its portfolio is currently more than $30 million, and Jenfi expects that the capital it has already deployed will help them generate $47 million in sales, or a 156% increase by July 2021. 

Liu launched Jenfi with Justin Louie in 2019, after seeing how traditional financial institutions were lagging behind Southeast Asia’s digital boom. The two previously founded GuavaPass, the fitness studio membership platform that was acquired by ClassPass in 2019. Jenfi’s creation was motivated by some of the challenges Liu and Louie faced while financing a high-growth startup focused on Asian markets. 

Jenfi’s application process is completely online and in some cases, companies have received financing in less than 24 hours, though it typically takes a few days. This is another benefit over traditional working capital loans or private equity financing, which can take months to complete, making it difficult for companies to respond quickly to revenue growth opportunities. For example, an e-commerce company may need quick working capital to purchase more inventory if it suddenly gets a lot of demand for a certain product. 

Some of Jenfi’s Series A will also be used to develop more integrations for its proprietary risk assessment engine, which analyzes how efficiently companies use their growth spending. Currently, it can tap into information from bank accounts; software like Xero or Quickbooks; payment gateways including Stripe and Braintree; e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Shopee and Lazada; and Facebook Ads and Google Ads. 

Instead of fixed installment repayment plans, Jenfi gives companies more flexible target repayment plans and charges them a flat fee based on the amount of financing they received, their monthly sales and how many months it will take to pay back the loan. Jenfi continues analyzing the data sources provided by companies, so it can tell if a client potentially needs more capital or an adjustment to their repayment terms. 

Ultimately, Jenfi’s plan to move beyond financing and also provide tools to help businesses. “We see ourselves as partners in our portfolio companies’ growth,” said Liu. 

Since Jenfi taps into a mix of data sources—including bank accounts, accounting software and digital advertising platforms, it can use that same information to identify opportunities. Part of Jenfi’s Series A funding will be used to develop automated analytics. For example, the platform would be able to identify an advertising opportunity with high ROI on Google Ads and notify the company, asking if they want to apply for more capital to finance the campaign. 

#fintech, #fundings-exits, #jenfi, #lending, #monks-hill-ventures, #revenue-based-financing, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #working-capital

YC-backed Tablevibe’s customer surveys help restaurants reduce their reliance on delivery apps

Food delivery apps offer convenience for customers, but a host of headaches for restaurants, like commissions as high as 40% and very few tools to build customer loyalty. Based in Singapore, Tablevibe wants to help restaurants reduce their reliance on third-party delivery apps and help them get more direct orders and returning customers. The startup is part of Y Combinator’s current batch, which will hold its Demo Day at the end of this month.

Tablevibe’s founding team includes two former Googlers: Jeroen Rutten, formerly head of Google Search’s product strategy in APAC and Sneep, who was responsible for its app development go-to-market strategy and led large sales teams. They are joined by Guido Caldara, a lead teacher at coding bootcamp Le Wagon and Tablevibe’s chief technology officer.

The idea for Tablevibe came after Rutten, its chief executive officer, visited a restaurant in Singapore that used paper feedback forms.

“We thought, if they use a paper feedback form, it actually creates a lot of hassle, like entering all the data into an Excel spreadsheet,” he told TechCrunch. “How’s the restaurant owner going to get actionable feedback based on data in an Excel spreadsheet?”

The team began working on the first version of Tablevibe, with simple Google Forms for dine-in customers and Google Data Studio dashboards, and tested it with three restaurants a few months before COVID-19 emerged. They found that using Tablevibe instead of paper forms increased response rates by up to 26x and also had the benefit of creating more repeat customers, since they are given an incentive for filling out surveys.

Then the pandemic hit and restaurants had to suddenly pivot to deliveries. The team kept the same idea behind their feedback forms, but started using QR codes affixed to takeout packaging. The QR codes (usually in the form of stickers so food and beverage businesses don’t need to order new packaging) also offer an incentive if customers scan it and fill out a survey—but the discount or free item can’t be redeemed through third-party delivery apps, only through direct orders with the restaurant.

Restaurants can customize surveys, but about 80% use Tablevibe’s templates, which are quick to fill out, since most questions just ask for a rating from one to five stars (there’s also an optional form for customers to write their opinions). Customers fill out their name, email addresses, and then rank the food and atmosphere (for dine-in). For delivery, customers are also asked what app they used.

Tablevibe is integrated with Google Reviews, so if someone gives the restaurant a high rating, they are asked if they want to make it public. They also have the option to follow its Facebook or Instagram profile.

For dine-in customers, Tablevibe primarily works with F&B businesses that have multiple venues, including Merci Marcel and Lo and Behold Group. For its delivery survey, most users are smaller restaurants that have one location. It also serves cloud kitchens, like CloudEats in the Philippines.

“As a restaurant, you want to own and grow your customer relationships,” said Sneep, Tablevibe’s chief operating officer. “The first part is actually knowing who your customers are, what they experienced and how you can contact them, which is how we can help. The second piece is growing a customer relationship, which we do by giving a reward, but only if a customer reorders directly with a restaurant.”

Customers have generated over 25,000 reviews through Tablevibe so far, which gives the company data to help determine what kind of incentives will convince someone to scan a restaurant’s QR code and take a survey.

Tablevibe’s founders say it can deliver more than 100x return on investment to its clients. For example, Merci Marcel did an evaluation and determined that it got a 103x ROI, based on the number of customers who claimed incentives, average order value, how many people left a five-star Google Review and how much more business those reviews drove to their venues.

The startup plans to expand into other English-speaking markets, focusing first on Northern Europe and then North America later this year. Aside from Singapore, it’s already used by customers in the Philippines, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Portugal.

Rutten said that Tablevibe plans to build its development team, with the goal of becoming a “Salesforce for restaurants” that can help them build engagement through delivery or dine-ins, capture data and turn them into useful insights.

“Our roadmap has two levers—one is to get more data and the other is to provide more intelligence,” he said. “We’re working on API integrations so Tablevibe can integrate with point-of-sale systems. The second thing is to pull in more publicly available data from sources like Google Reviews. We will also build out more marketing features to leverage customer databases so businesses can send out emails about new restaurant launches, etc.” Eventually, Tablevibe also plans to use AI to help restaurants determine exactly what they need to do to improve customer experience, like change a menu item.

#fb, #food-and-beverage, #food-delivery, #restaurants, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tablevibe, #tc, #y-combinator

A close look at Singapore’s thriving startup ecosystem

Singapore is home to fewer than six million people, making it one of the smallest ASEAN countries, in terms of population. It is a young country as well — having gained independence in 1963 — and resides in a neighborhood with far larger economies, including China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. When the country first became independent, its mandate was to simply survive rather than thrive.

So how does a country evolve from a position of relative uncertainty, with comparatively few resources, to one that leads the ASEAN region in venture capital investment and has been home to 10 unicorns?

Countries around the world examine Singapore’s ecosystem from a distance, hoping to learn from, and emulate, its story. The World Bank Group recently published a report, The Evolution and State of Singapore’s Start-up Ecosystem, documenting the country’s experience in building its startup ecosystem and the challenges facing it.

This article presents an overview of the report’s key findings and offers a few key recommendations on what other countries can learn from Singapore’s experience, as well as what Singapore itself can do to maintain progress.

A glimpse into Singapore’s current startup ecosystem

As of 2019, Singapore had over $19 billion in PE and VC assets under management, more than twice that of neighboring Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand combined. In that same year, the country was home to an estimated 3,600 tech startups and nearly 200 different intermediary and supporting organizations (accelerators, co-working spaces, coding academies, etc.) – some which have a multinational presence, such as Blk71, whose Singapore headquarters has been referred to as “the world’s most tightly packed entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

While assessing the size and strength of startup ecosystems is an evolving method, Start-up Genome priced Singapore’s ecosystem at over $25 billion, five times the global median.

Arguably, the most eye-catching hallmark of this ecosystem is its population of current and former unicorns. Collectively, Singapore has been home to ten unicorns, three of which have offered an IPO (Nanofilm, Razer and Sea) and two of which have been acquired – one by giant Alibaba (Lazada) and one by Chinese streaming powerhouse YY (Bigo Live). The remaining five are Trax, Acronis, JustCo, PatSnap, and Grab – the ASEAN region’s largest unicorn to date.

 

The education sector is also prominent in Singapore’s ecosystem. Universities like the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are deeply embedded into this ecosystem, helping with R&D commercialization linkages, incubation, talent/knowledge transfer, and other areas.

So, how did Singapore’s startup ecosystem come to be?

Numerous factors have contributed to building Singapore’s startup ecosystem, with government intervention and leadership being the dominant driving forces. The government has spent more than USD60 billion over the past several decades to enhance the country’s R&D infrastructure, create VC funds, and launch accelerators and other support organizations.

#alibaba, #asia, #china, #column, #coworking, #ec-column, #ec-southeast-asia-oceania, #funding, #government, #indonesia, #malaysia, #philippines, #razer, #singapore, #startup-ecosystem, #startups, #tc, #thailand, #unicorn, #vc, #venture-capital, #venture-capital-investment, #vietnam, #world-bank

Singapore’s logistics tech startup Parcel Perform raises $20 million

Singapore-headquartered Parcel Perform, which connects merchants with e-commerce carriers and provides shipment tracking features, said on Wednesday it has raised $20 million in a new financing round as it scales its business in several parts of the world.

Cambridge Capital led the logistics tech startup’s Series A financing round, while SoftBank Ventures Asia and existing investors including Wavemaker Partners and Investible participated in it.

The SaaS startup helps improve the experience of e-commerce merchants and their customers when engaging with carriers, explained Dr. Arne Jeroschewski, co-founder and chief executive of Parcel Perform, in an interview with TechCrunch.

Nespresso, which sells home coffee machines, capsules and accessories, relies on Parcel Perform to gain access to logistics data, for instance. Based on this data, said Jeroschewski, tracking experience — such as a web page for tracking, a system for authentication — is charted for the firm and the startup also provides tools for customer support.

Parcel Perform also provides these merchants with tools to create additional touchpoints after the checkout to create higher brand loyalty with customers, opportunities to move more inventories, and it has also developed a system to support more than 30 languages to offer the most personalized experience to customers. It says businesses on its platform have increased their customer lifetime value by up to 40%. 

The startup — which is already profitable and has grown its revenue by 5x since the onset of the pandemic — also uses its AI stack to make predictions on things such as when a customer will get their parcel. Parcel Perform, which integrates with over 700 carriers, has courted clients globally and executes more than 100 million parcel updates each day.

“Visibility is a vital market in this age of e-commerce. After evaluating many companies worldwide, we believe that Parcel Perform simply offers the best visibility and experience solution. They have built a unique value proposition for brands, marketplaces and carriers, with the most complete solution for end-to-end shipment tracking,” said Benjamin Gordon, Managing Partner of Cambridge Capital, in a statement. Cambridge focuses exclusively on global logistics and supply chain technology.

Jeroschewski founded the startup with Dana von der Heide. Jeroschewski previously co-founded e-tail unicorn Zalora, and held senior roles in Singapore Post and DHL, where he worked together with Dana. Dana is also an advisory member of the German Logistics Association and part of the distinguished eFounder Fellowship program by Alibaba.

Parcel Perform will deploy the fresh funds to scale further in Asia and Europe and also set up a regional office in North America, said Jeroschewski. The startup is also looking to increase its headcount.

#asia, #cambridge-capital, #ecommerce, #funding, #logistics, #singapore, #softbank-ventures-asia, #tc, #wavemaker-partners

What’s driving the global surge in retail media spending?

Most businesses by now are well versed with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic: Faltering offline sales, flexible work-from-anywhere options, fluctuating foot traffic with lockdown mandates and e-commerce becoming a channel many brands wished they had built infrastructure for earlier.

As a record number of consumers in Southeast Asia move from shopping malls to online platforms like Shopee, Lazada, Tiki and Tokopedia, the advertising dollars are naturally flowing in. Emerging markets are witnessing the advent of retail media right now.

Amazon paved the way in North America in 2018 by launching Amazon Advertising to become the first bid-and-buy marketplace. BCG now estimates retailers have a $100 billion business opportunity to capture, if they can keep up.

The money is where the consumer is

To understand why retailers will capture more ad spend, it’s important to evaluate what modern day marketing has become.

Is it bus stop advertisements? Bidding on Google keywords or a Clubhouse session? Or is it a viral TikTok video? As the world becomes more connected and the lines between offline and online blur even more, modern day marketing is a mix of all the channels tied to key performance metrics.

The main goal of marketing, no matter the medium, is to highlight a business or product to the right consumers to score a potential sale. And like most things, there is a bad, a good and a much better way of doing things.

E-commerce as an advertising channel is unique, because it encapsulates the entire consumer journey from start to finish, especially as marketplaces continue to steal the share of search from search engines.

Traditional marketing channels were primarily linear TV, radio and print, because the mediums were highly popular at the time. However, with the birth of the internet newer platforms emerged such as email, websites and streaming. Then came the rise of social media and apps that shook up the advertising landscape. But regardless of these shifts, there has always been one constant: The business went where the consumer was.

So when sources of traffic and revenue once again change, let’s say due to a pandemic, the marketing mix follows. In the next 12 months alone, many marketers are planning to decrease spending in cinema, print and out of home (OOH), while the majority will increase budgets in social and search, according to Nielsen.

The search for superior advertising channels

So which channels will benefit as money flows out of outdated buckets? A good indicator is ad revenue trends in mature markets like the U.S. While Google and Facebook remain the dominant advertising players, Amazon has eaten into the duopoly’s ad revenue pie in the U.S., growing its share from 7.8% to 10.3% in 2020 alone, according to eMarketer.

How? Because the most valuable advertising channel is the one that has the most measurable touch points with the consumer.

#amazon, #asia, #brand-management, #column, #covid-19, #ec-column, #ec-marketing-tech, #ecommerce, #facebook, #indonesia, #malaysia, #marketing, #media, #shopee, #singapore, #social, #southeast-asia, #thailand, #tiki, #tokopedia, #vietnam

Singapore-based Nektar.ai gets $6M to help B2B sales team collaborate more effectively

A photo of Nektar.ai founders Aravind Ravi Sulekha and Abhijeet Vijayvergiya

Nektar.ai founders Aravind Ravi Sulekha and Abhijeet Vijayvergiya

Organizing information about prospective deals is a challenging task for B2B sales teams, since salespeople usually rely on multiple tools (email, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc) to talk with buyer committees. It becomes even more unwieldy when sales teams work remotely. Nektar.ai is a B2B sales productivity startup that wants to help sales team by reducing the amount of time they spend on manual data entry and providing analytics that can increase their revenue. The Singapore-based company announced today it has raised $6 million in seed funding, led by B Capital Group.

3One4 Capital and returning investor Nexus Venture Partners also participated, along with angel investors like Amit Midha, president of Asia Pacific and Japan at Dell; Ritesh Agarwal the founder and CEO of OYO Hotels;, Kevin Merritt, former president of Tyler Technologies’ data and insights division; Evan Davidson, SentinelOne’s vice president of Asia Pacific and Japan; Deep Nishar, senior managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers; and Tom Donlea, Ekata’s vice president and general manager of APAC.

Combined with its previous round, $2.15 million led by Nexus Venture Partners and announced in November 2020, the new funding brings Nektar.ai’s total seed capital to $8.1 million. The company says this is one of the largest seed rounds ever for a SaaS company based in Asia. Nektar.ai’s workforce is remote-first and the company says half of its team are women.

Nektar.ai has been in stealth mode since it was founded in 2020 by Abhijeet Vijayvergiya and Aravind Ravi Sulekha, working with hundreds of clients in private beta mode. Its waitlist is currently open for sign-ups, with plans to launch publicly in the first half of 2022. Part of Nektar.ai’s seed funding will be used to build a go-to-market team focused on the United States.

Nektar.ai was designed for SaaS revenue teams who have to manage information across many channels, including email, calendars, web conferences, Slack, CRM tools, LinkedIn and WhatsApp. This makes it hard for them to collaborate, follow playbooks (or sets of best practices) and get a full understanding of their deals pipeline and revenue. Nektar.ai integrates with different apps, surfaces key data and delivers it to the most convenient collaboration tool for a team, like Slack.

Vijayvergiya told TechCrunch that over the last six months, Nektar.ai accelerated product development because “we saw a strong demand for a guided selling solution in the market,” onboarding more than 200 prospects from its waitlist.

Nektar.ai launched a web console for managers, a Chrome extension and integrations with Salesforce, Google Workspace and Slack. It also added a new feature called Capture Bot, an AI-based system that automatically extracts important information from salespeople’ online interactions with buyer committees, surfacing data that would otherwise be tucked away in different inboxes and calendars. This increases the accuracy of their CRM tools and allows sales managers to see how engaged their teams are with potential customers and how prospective deals are progressing.

For individual representatives, Nektar.ai’s tools let them spend less time on manual data entry. They also get analytics like multithreading scores that help them identify how deals were won or lost. For example, Vijayvergiya said one client found they won deals if they had at least four contacts with a buyer committee after the demo stage. As a result, its sales representatives began engaging with more than four members of the buyer committee on all potential deals.

Another way Nektar.ai helps SaaS sales teams save money and time is building databases of first-party contacts from their inboxes. Vijayvergiya said one client was able to save $50,000 by organizing their existing contacts instead of purchasing third-party contact data.

In a statement, B Capital Group general partner Gabe Greenbaum said, “Nektar.ai’s solutions provide great value to distributed revenue teams, which is even more important as enterprises conduct further business across global markets. B Capital is always eager to work with experienced and knowledgeable founders, and we’re confident that Abhijeet, Aravind and the Nektar.ai team will continue their strong momentum on the path to becoming the industry-leading tool for enterprise sales productivity.”

#b2b-sales, #fundings-exits, #nektar, #nektar-ai, #saas-sales, #sales-productivity, #singapore, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc