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27 Asian startups that kick ass

With a lot of new tech coming up, it may be confusing trying to keep track of which one’s doing what. We thought we’d do a run down for you.

By Lyra Reyes

startups

From agriculture to finance to medicine, startups in Asia are taking up the challenge of creating solutions for new (and sometimes age-old) problems across many industries. Here are 27 we think you should keep an eye on.

1. Dot (South Korea)

Affordable and innovative e-Braille reader for the visually impaired people around the globe

This South Korean startup has jumped in on the smartwatch trend and made it accessible for a demographic that has rather been neglected. Dot has developed an active Braille smartwatch that could be used as a communication tool by the visually-impaired. When connected to a mobile phone, the Dot smartwatch can display messages in Braille through columns of dots that pop up to form the Braille cells. The company is also now in the process of designing a DOT pad to accommodate users’ need for access to data such as e-books, shapes, and lengthy communication.

2. AeroLion (Singapore)

Solving complicated problems in complicated environments

AeroLion’s unmanned aerial vehicles are products of years of research; the company developed UAVs that operate using multi-sensor technology instead of GPS, allowing the devices to operate in indoor and even underground environment. This gives the UAVs the capability to take over activities such as radiation measurements, critical infrastructure inspections, and mine inspections, resulting to lowered risk to human life without compromising accurate data gathering. AeroLion has expanded to China and is now looking at expansion to Japan and South East Asia.

3. Gava (Singapore)

Cultivating the virtue of generosity and making it a lifestyle

Singapore-based Gava is a crowdfunding platform that operates in the Philippines. It enables users to create campaigns for various personal events and social causes and to promote these campaigns through social media. Its simple interface allows for smooth navigation, and the availability of several payment options — both online and offline — makes it easier for contributors to support the campaigns that they want. Gava has fulfilled 1,000 causes since its inception in 2015 and has recently launched its app.

Also read: It’s more fun: 500 Startups reportedly to enter Philippines in 2017

4. Horsepower (Philippines)

We empower every type of entrepreneur and changing how benefits works

Cloud-based SaaS platform Horsepower began with the idea to provide freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small and medium enterprises health insurance packages at affordable rates that are typically available only to organisations with a large workforce. It has then expanded to providing human resources and administration assistance, access to legal, tax, and accounting advice, a dashboard with utilities payment facilities, and discounts to partner co-working spaces.

5. LinCor Biosciences (Singapore)

Treating corneal blindness through tissue engineering

Founded in 2011, LinCor Biosciences was primarily created with the express objective of further development of bioengineered corneas. This Singapore-based startup is creating human tissue-compatible engineered corneas that would address the problem of severe shortage of human donor corneas. Using human collagen and bioploymers, LinCor Biosciences is currently in the tail-end of its human clinical trials of bioengineered corneas with a longer shelf life than human donor corneas.

6. Grdient (Singapore)

Skills. Learning. Reimagined.

Equipping students with the necessary skills to match the needs of companies is the driving force behind Grdient. The startup offers students an intensive programme consisting of classes for in-demand skills, live projects using real-world data, and mentoring. Faculty members of Grdient include VCs and startup practitioners who can impart their firsthand knowledge of the fast-paced startup ecosystem to student. Students of Grdient become part of a platform that partner startups, VCs, and recruiters use as an avenue to train, discover, and possibly hire new talents.

7. Beacon Interface (Thailand)

Promoting equal access to financial services

Brand-new Thailand-based Beacon Interface has designed an app that allows the visually-impaired to manage their personal finances. The app uses multi-sensory interaction, voice assistance, and a “one screen one task” interface that minimises errors and increases user confidence in using the app. The startup is one of the winners of the Global Fintech Accelerator competition held in Singapore this year.

8. WOVN.io (Japan)

Welcome the world in one line of code

This Japan-based startup has developed a programme that takes localised content to the global audience. Launched in 2014 and currently used by over 8,000 companies, WOVN.io supports 27 languages and allows users to localise their website in minutes. The company is currently in the process of creating new features such as email and site layout localisation and strategic partnerships to offer multi-currency and global shipping support. WOVN.io has recently announced completion of series B round of financing.

Also read: He ran a makeshift grocery store from his bedroom at the age of 6 before building Thailand’s first cashback site

9. PaidUp (Philippines)

Enables small and medium businesses in emerging markets to bypass the banks and crowdfund investment directly from customers

PaidUp is a platform that works in two way: first is that it helps small businesses crowdfund directly from regular customers the money they could use to make their business grow. Second is that it allows customers to buy credit upfront and go cashless in the next visits, as well as to avoid long queues by pre-ordering for pick-up or local delivery. Launched in Quezon City in the Philippines early 2016, the company has since gained over 100 partner establishments and is popular among students and young professionals.

10. Soft Space (Malaysia)

Simplifying payments through technology

Soft Space is a digital payments company that develops solutions for the e-banking and payment industry. Its centralized EMV payment platform allows anyone to accept card payments using a smart device – a synergy between a mobile application, pocket-sized card readers, web management console, and real-time dashboard. This, coupled with certifications from EMV, MasterCard, and Visa, allows for secure transactions that are recognized globally.  Working with existing financial institutions, Soft Space solutions are currently available in 8 countries in Asia.

11. The Project Nomad (Singapore)

Empowering Artisans. Improving Education

The Project Nomad is an e-commerce site that connects artisans from disadvantaged communities to new markets. Founded early 2016, this Singapore-based startup is currently working with artisans from the Roopsi Village of Jaisalmer in India, who market the goods they produce in the website. Project Nomad also uses part of its earning to support local schools providing education for underprivileged children. The company is looking to expand all over Asia; currently in its first initiative in India working with 25 artisans and educating 140 children.

Also read: Thailand is launching a stock exchange just for startups; no revenue required

12. Door2Door Doctor (Malaysia)

Healthcare at your doorstep

Door2Door Doctor is a startup that seeks to address the problem of long waiting times in hospitals and clinics through an online platform that connects patients with healthcare professionals and services near them. The platform works with a fleet of doctors, nurses, therapists, and even medical transportation providers to deliver treatment to the patients’ homes, reducing and potentially eliminating the time spent in hospitals and clinics and allowing patients with mobility difficulties to receive expert professional care without the difficulties of transport.

13. BLH Aqua Technology (South Korea)

Development of water treatment technology for improving overall agricultural productivity

BLH Aqua Technology creates products that help plants grow more efficiently. Its product, Aquatonix, is an eco-friendly agricultural water treatment device that adjusts the characteristics of water molecules, resulting to crops’ better absorption of water and nutrients. The company claims that using Aquatonix helps reduce the amount of water farmer needs to use by 20 per cent, reduce the amount of fertilisers and pesticides, and results to higher quality and yield of crops. The company targets to enter countries like the US that are struggling with water shortage as well as countries where agriculture accounts for a large percentage of the GDP like China. Aquatonix will be available in the retail market in 2017.

14. Molcure (Japan)

Providing the best drugs for patients in the quickest time

Molcure is an antibody drug-focused biotech company specialising in biomolecule discovery. Using a proprietary antibody discovery platform that combines biology, bioinformation, and automation, the company has reduced the time and resources needed to develop antibody-based drugs through identification of gene sequences and automation of candidate testing, resulting to less expensive and more viable drugs. Molcure has recently been selected as Pioneers50 Startups at Pioneers Festival recently held in Vienna, Austria.

15. Trail Adventours (Philippines)

Share. Life. Outdoors.

Launched in October 2010 with three adventure guides and two hiking destinations, Trail Adventours is a Philippine-based adventure travel startup that now offers hikes to over 50 mountains around the world. The company works with seasoned adventure guides and local communities to ensure safe hikes that are neither intrusive nor destructive to the environment and the local culture.

Also read: The life-changing power of disruptive marketplace ideas

16. FarmOn (Philippines)

A community that bridges the gap between virtual farming and real-life farming.

FarmOn is a crowdfunding community that got its idea from the popularity of the game Farmville. Founded in 2014, the company gives people who want to engage in farming but do not have the time or the know-how the opportunity to farm virtually. Virtual farmers will contribute money and choose the specific crops that FarmOn partner farmers will produce. Contributors may earn once the crops have been successfully harvested after the farming season. FarmOn currently owns 96 hectares of farmland property in several provinces in the Philippines, providing jobs to local farmers.

17. GO-JEK (Indonesia)

A socially-minded technology company that aims to improve the welfare of workers in a variety of informal sector in Indonesia

GO-JEK is an on-demand ride service operating in 10 major cities of Indonesia. It currently has a fleet of over 200,000 motorcycle riders that provide various services such as transport and food delivery. Growing past its core offering, the company has a same-day delivery service for various products, as well as a mobile payment service. It has recently announced launching of new services in other fields such as professional cleaning services, event ticketing, and medical needs purchase among others. 

18. Pathship (Hongkong)

Provides intelligent learning solutions, empowering employees to achieve business goals today and tomorrow

Pathship is a Hongkong-based online learning system that applies the latest advances in educational research and machine learning to remove the pain points from corporate learning. Powered by artificial intelligence, Pathship is able to collect data and provide insights into the engagement of each learner and the effectiveness of corporate learning programs. In the long-term, Pathship hopes to use technology to provide a hybrid model of education where employees consistently receive recommendations of what and when they need to learn and accelerate the pace of skills development.

19. Tailslife (India)

A one stop mobile application created to meet pet parents’ needs

Bangalore-based startup Tailslife is an online platform for pet-related information. The platform offers expert-written content that is pet breed and age specific, booking function for pet services, an interactive forum to connect with other users, vaccination reminders, and a social aspect that allows users to share and view pet stories. Having recently secured seed funding, Tailslife is planning to expand to new cities. An online pet store and pet outing features are also in the works.

Also read: Is venture capital going bust in India?

20. Servishero (Malaysia)

Exists to empower local businesses

Launched in 2015, ServisHero is a company that provides local services on-demand through its mobile app. It is a mobile marketplace that connects customers to a network of local service providers such as cleaners, plumbers, electricians, and more. It has since expanded to Singapore and Thailand, gained thousands of service providers, and has reached 50,000 app downloads.

21. Crofarm (India)

Changing the way businesses procure the produce.

With India’s estimated preventable post-harvest loss equivalent to Australia’s total production, Crofarm set out to address one of the country’s biggest problems in agriculture. The company aims to develop a supply chain that lessens transit time, minimises wastage due to handling and storing, and cutting out intermediaries that cause both. Partnering with select farmers for select products, Crofarm launched at the proof-of concept stage in May 2016, processing over 100 tonnes of produce weekly from farms across Haryana, UP, and Uttarakhand.

22. Revv (India)

Providing you with all the privacy, fun, and convenience of your own car, without the hassles of owning one

Delhi-NCR based car rental startup Revv, founded 15 months ago, is not your standard car rental. For one, the company delivers and picks-ups the car to where the user wants. Another differentiating factor is the app that allows users to book anywhere within 2 minutes. Revv  caters to drivers’ different needs with a selection of new vehicles that can be rented on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The company has recently raised a US$9 million Series A equity and debt funding round.

23. KKDay (Taiwan)

Bound to create your unique travel experience

Launched in 2014, KKDay is an e-commerce platform for travel experiences that allows users to connect with local tours all over the world. Its online platform contains over 6000 experiences in 174 cities across 53 countries, can be viewed in 4 different languages, and has a contact function for direct-to-provider inquiries. The Taiwan-based startup has recently raised US$7 million in Series A+ funding and has already expanded to Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, and Japan.

Also read: How global uncertainty drives business, commercial, and pricing models

24. DataStreamX

Enabling the data economy

DataStreamX is an online marketplace for data – the platform provides buyers with access to commercial data sets across industries while enabling vendors to increase revenue. Addressing Asian businesses’ lack of experience in monetising the data that they collect, the company has worked with over 400 businesses to sell their data in the marketplace and gain a new revenue stream using automation tools that reduces time needed to bring data products to the market. Launched in 2015, DataStreamX has recently raised pre Series A funding.

25. Astroscale (Japan)

Raise public awareness about space environment issues and promote safe and sustainable space missions for the next generation.

Astrocale, leading a team of over 20 engineers, researchers, and physicists, has big dreams. The startup is currently working on developing scalable and sustainable on-orbit technology that will allow safe removal of space debris that could be damaging to vital satellites orbiting the Earth. Founder Mitsonuba Okada has announced that a debris tracking satellite will be launched in 2017, while a satellite debris collector will be sent up by 2018. The company also intends to offer de-orbiting services to companies that own satellites.

26. Great Safety Information Laboratory (South Korea)

Watching for danger is the beginning of safety

Great Safety Information Laboratory (GSIL) is a startup providing a data-backed safety management system for safety managers in a construction environment. Using thousands of data collected from environmental sensors and equipment, the company has created an AI-powered safety system and risk metrics that can monitor location of workers real-time and check equipment safety. GSIL also provides a risk assessment system to help workers recognise danger levels and factors.

27. ATEC Biodigester (Cambodia)

Modern cooking without the cost

ATEC Biodigester is a Cambodia-based startup that developed a system that turns organic waste into energy. The product is designed to last for 25 years and approximated to produce, in that timespan, 6.8 million litres of renewable bio-gas and 492 tonnes of fertilizer. The Biodigester addresses three issues in rural Cambodia: sanitation, energy, and crop yield. The startup recently won top spot in the Sankalp Southeast Asia Summit in Jakarta.

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Featured image credits: rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo

  • Astroscale
    Astroscale Singapore ASTROSCALE is a Singapore based private space company that is developing space debris removal technology. Funding: 7.7M Series A Investors: Jafco Investments
  • DatastreamX
    DatastreamX Singapore DataStreamX helps transform their clients' businesses by delivering actionable data to buyers and creating new revenue opportunities for vendors. Funding: 450K Venture Round Investors: Wavemaker Partners JFDI
  • WOVN
    WOVN Japan WOVN.io provides multilingual support for your website or blog, bringing your content to the world. Funding: 3M Series B Investors: SBI Investment
  • ServisHero
    ServisHero Malaysia ServisHero is a mobile-first platform that connects customers with local service providers such as Wedding Planners, Plumbers, Electricians, Cleaners, Movers and more. Funding: 2.7M Series A Investors: Golden Gate Ventures
  • Door2Door Doctor
    Door2Door Doctor Malaysia They are a Outpatient Health Care Provider that specializes in using Mobile Health Technology to improve delivery of Medical care to their patients.
  • Go-Jek
    Go-Jek Indonesia GO-JEK is Jakarta's personal time-saver. They are an all-in-one convenience service: Your driver, your courier, and your personal shopper. You name it, they'll do it, INSTANTLY! Funding: Undisclosed Venture Round Investors: NSI Ventures Sequoia Capital
  • Horsepower.ph
    Horsepower.ph Singapore Horsepower is SaaS platform startup designed to provide HR benefits and services to solo entrepreneurs, micro and small medium enterprise, and managed by a single cloud-based dashboard. Funding: 385K Seed Investors: Undisclosed
  • Revv
    Revv India Revv is a service that provides you with all the privacy, fun and convenience of your own car, without the hassles of owning and maintaining one. Funding: 9M Series A Investors: Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services
  • TailsLife
    TailsLife India TailsLife is a one stop shop mobile application created to meet every 'pet parent's' needs, Funding: Undisclosed Seed Investors: Encube Venture Partners
  • KKday
    KKday Taiwan Launched in 2014 and headquartered in Taiwan, KKday is the leading E-commerce platform allowing users to connect with the local tours from all over the world. Funding: 7M Series A Investors: Monk’s Hill Ventures AppWorks Ventures
  • Pathship
    Pathship Hong Kong Pathship is a web based learning portal that enables people and business to discover and learn from leading experts and teachers.
  • The Project Nomad
    The Project Nomad Singapore They are a social enterprise that connects artisans from disadvantaged communities to new and emerging markets.
  • Soft Space
    Soft Space Malaysia From its inception in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2012, Digital Payments company Soft Space, has grown to become the leading mobile Point of Sales (mPOS) provider in the South East Asia region
  • Trail Adventours
    Trail Adventours Philippines Trail Adventours is a team of dynamic personalities whose interest in the outdoors has taken them to far off destinations from mountains to distant seas.
  • Grdient
    Grdient Singapore Grdient (pronounced “Gradient”) is an EdTech startup that puts big data and technology together to help students learn start-up skills relevant for tomorrow’s economy.
  • LinCor Biosciences
    LinCor Biosciences Singapore LinCor Biosciences is preparing to introduce a bioengineered cornea which will reduce world blindness. Funding: 500K Seed Investors: Undisclosed
  • Molcure
    Molcure Japan High-throughput antibody design using NGS and bigdata analysis. Funding: 2M Series A Investors: Undisclosed
  • CroFarm
    CroFarm India Crofarm is changing the way businesses procure the produce. Our aim is to make a supply chain that supports farmers and provides businesses with freshest produce in the most efficient manner. Funding: 1.5M Seed Investors: Undisclosed
  • Gava
    Gava Singapore Gava is all about giving back and paying it forward. Whether with time, money or talent, we all can give back.
  • Great Safety Information Laboratory
    Great Safety Information Laboratory South Korea GSIL is an IT company that provides negligence and accident prevention, safety examinations and field monitoring services in real-time using an integrated safety management system.
  • BLH Aqua Technology
    BLH Aqua Technology South Korea Korea-based company that specializes in the development of water treatment technology for improving overall agricultural productivity
  • AeroLion
    AeroLion Singapore AeroLion’s unmanned aerial vehicles are products of years of research; the company developed UAVs that operate using multi-sensor technology instead of GPS
  • Beacon Interface
    Beacon Interface Thailand Brand-new Thailand-based Beacon Interface has designed an app that allows the visually-impaired to manage their personal finances.
  • PaidUp
    PaidUp Philippines PaidUp is a new mobile phone app that allows small and medium sized businesses to gain more customers and revenue by strengthening the trust they have with their top fans
  • FarmOn
    FarmOn Philippines FarmOn.ph is a crowdfunding community where people can help farmers on their financial needs and at the same time reap rewards for their contributions.

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Joey Alarilla
Joey Alarilla • Head of Community and Social Media at e27
Wow, that's a lot of startups! Shows how lively and diverse the startup space is in Asia.
Reply
Kevin McSpadden
Kevin McSpadden • Southeast Asia Correspondent at e27 (Optimatic)
Im rooting for Astroscale because....space.
Reply
Yon Heong Tung
Yon Heong Tung • Senior Writer at e27
I hope to see more startups coming out from Cambodia! There are so many pain points to fix in that country
Reply
Daryl Chung
Daryl Chung • Project Director at e27
Asia is so exciting! Need more representation from the greater mekong subregion!
Reply
Daniel Tan
Daniel Tan • Wealth Management, Financial services, Business development, MDRT, Networker
i like paidup

many pos/ordering vendors market solution the customers ( establishment ) would have to invest in many hardware, ipad etcs for each tables. with this. they have minimal hardware investment, probably just kitchen and check out. they also have advance revenue which earn interest. smaller business may also find it expensive to run their own loyalty campaigns

wovn is also cool - help smaller ecoommerce businesses explain around the region. we have too many different langauges here
but wonder how accurate the translations are
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