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Business  4, Apr 2014

Asia is an awesome launchpad for startups! Much better than US, Europe it seems

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IncubAsia Ventures to bring tech startups from other continents to Asia as it sees clear opportunities in the region due to its favourable environment

Does Asia need innovation imported from Europe and Australia to energise its startup ecosystem? Does it need help to mature in terms of technological breakthroughs?

IncubAsia Ventures wants to bring tech startups from other continents to Asia as it sees clear opportunities in the region due to it favourable environment.

The venture capital company says it wants to import quality innovation to color the white spaces it sees in Asia. It’s main focus is in enterprise, advertising, education, gaming and financial innovations. Some of its specific verticals include SaaS, e-payments, human capital, analytics, social media and cloud. Most of its portfolio companies operate within the B2B space.

Co-founder Gerben Visser said that Singapore particular is a good launchpad in Asia due to the high opportunity and capital that it provides to quality innovations. It is has a strong talent pool that can help incubate companies to accelerate further. The innovation landscape in the United States and Europe is very crowded as of now, and it is difficult for new startups to make deals with multinational companies. Asia does not face similar constraints, he shared.

IncubAsia is involved in equity investment, venture acceleration and tech incubation. For its equity investments, it invests from US$100,000 to US$500,000. However, this amount is subject to change; the firm has doubled investments when appropriate, giving Incubasia Ventures a vested interest in the company’s long-term success.

It has also co-founded businesses under its tech incubation programme. Examples of successful incubators include SocietyOne and Moko Social Media, the latter which is listed on the ASX and will be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange soon.

Visser said, “We want to be an early-stage venture accelerator with a cross-border differentiator; both, from a venture accelerator perspective and as a late-stage seed Series A investor.”

Asian startups cannot afford to live in a bubble
While its good news for startups in Europe and Australia, does this bode well for Asian startups? While the trend of importing ideas from overseas into Asia definitely increases the competition for these startups within the region, it is also an opportunity for Asian startups to learn from more experienced businesses and start ventures that are scalable in a global context.

ASEAN cannot afford to be stuck in a bubble in the face of global competition and startups from Australia and Europe can assist in enriching the ecosystem here in Asia. Young entrepreneurs who want to enter the industry could also work for more established startup companies so as to better understand the process of catering to a global economy.

Also Read: Fundacity expands to Asia to aid local early-stage startups get funding

Pultage set to launch next week
One of companies co-founded by IncubAsia, Pultage, is making its way to Asia. It is a digital signage company that aims to heal the disconnect between the physical and virtual. Both, the complementary Pult.io application and the web platform will launch in the continent next week, according to CEO James Teo.

Pultage automatically draws data from social media to provide live updates and feeds for companies. It was started in Estonia by key founder Andrus Raudsalu, and co-founded as a joint venture by IncubAsia for an undisclosed amount of money.

Using its web platform, images and social media APIs can be sent to any sort of screens. This would help consumers as they no longer have to check their phones to find out other customer reviews. For example, if they would like to dine at a restaurant, they could simply look at the screen at the establishment, which will display relevant reviews for them in real-time, instead of checking their mobile phones for the same information.

During the demonstration, James Teo, CEO of Pultage, simply typed in the unique code that was generated on the web browser into his iPad, and immediately, slides from the browser screen were transferred onto the iPad screen. It is simple to change the slides and create new slides. You can edit your images that are on display, and it will be adapted in real-time. Pultage works with any browser-based platform and requires minimal setup, making it very convenient for SMEs, he stated.

Pairing with Pult.io allows ordinary consumers to interact with the screen controlled by Pultage. Imagine that you are in a restaurant, you’re having a good time and decide to upload a picture of you and your friends using Pult.io. The TV screen in the restaurant will be updated in real-time with your picture. What makes it better is that you receive a 10 per cent discount off your bill as you have helped the company increase engagement on its social media site.

“Pult has developed a unique solution for the digital signage market which we believe provides the kind of customisation and social media integration that is increasingly important for businesses today,” said Visser, “We are very pleased to be able to combine our expertise in growth acceleration with the technical talent behind Pult, to roll out this technology in the digital signage market, especially in rapidly-evolving Asia Pacific market.”

Imagine walking on a busy street in Times Square or Shibuya and being able to interact with the huge screens with your phone. How cool is that?

It is available for free trial and basic plan starts at US$25 a month for businesses.

Theon Leong

Theon Leong

Theon is a skeptic who believes in possibilities after learning that three thirds of a pie does not add up to one and that cats can be dead and alive at the same time. He writes about business and technology, and is particularly interested in deconstructing complex ideas into bite-sized chunks. His favorite novel is The Little Prince, and spends his free time on chess and video games.

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