Brunei’s fledgling startup ecosystem has been burgeoning with vibrant activity over the past month — with the successful completion of nationwide hackathon Brunei Hacks 2018 and the announcement of the largest seed round raised by a local startup – and momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down as we head into 2019.

4 Bruneian startups were flown in to Singapore for a demo day to pitch to a group of regional investors. Held at SPECTRUM Global, this event was a culmination of the fourth cycle of Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) 100-day Startup Bootcamp. Golden Equator Consulting (GECo) facilitated the programme to help equip Bruneian startups with the core skill sets needed to maximise their growth potential and achieve long-term sustainability of their business. Hailing from industries such as food & beverages, agriculture, technology, healthcare and cosmetics, these startups were mentored by seasoned entrepreneurs and subject matter experts who shared relevant industry expertise and experience.

Here are the 4 startups that pitched:

1. Rotuku.com

An online Halal-certified products marketplace that offers a product development programme to Nano and Micro SMEs helping them achieve market access competitively.

2. Essentials.ai

An insurance technology service that aims to close the technology gap in Asia’s insurance industry starting with an AI-driven chatbot service that can communicate effectively with the digitally-savvy population.

Also read: This accelerator programme wants to help Southeast Asia tap into the potential of Brunei

3. Memori

All-in-one legacy planning platform that aims to enable the everyday person to manage every aspect of their legacy including creating secure wills, insurance policies, memorial services as well as social media and email passwords.

4. Bowlus

A platform that connects bowlers and bowling centres worldwide, with a mission to provide a brand new bowling experience through big data and gamification.

In his welcome address, Daniel Leong, Deputy CEO at DARe, shared that while fundraising would be a bonus, it was more important for the startups pitching to get regional exposure and build up their network here in Singapore, showing that a small country can have big ideas, big dreams and the ability to deliver it.

Echoing this sentiment was Adam Flinter, Managing Partner of Golden Equator Consulting, who said, “Beyond equipping these startups with foundational business sustainability knowledge and expansion strategies, our role is also to connect emerging startup economies like Brunei with the regional startup ecosystems, so that their innovative businesses can have the right access to networks and opportunities that can help them speed-grow their business and strengthen their presence in the region and beyond.”

The trip to Singapore definitely proved to be a fruitful one, as all 4 startups really impressed in their pitches. Ambar Machfoedy, Managing Partner at Rekanext Capital Partners, summed it up nicely for the panel of investors in attendance, “I didn’t know what to expect at first when knowing I’d be hearing pitches from Bruneian startups, but I was very impressed with the pitches. A number of them have unique ideas or approaches for addressing problems that consumers and business face, and I say that from the perspective of someone who has looked at numerous ventures from the region. It’s refreshing that the Brunei startups are looking at heretofore untapped opportunities like will-writing services and insurtech – I’m looking forward to having deeper conversations with these startups down the line!”

ICYMI, you can relive the demo day via DARe’s Facebook live broadcast.

Peering into Brunei’s Startup Ecosystem

Brunei Darussalam is strategically located on the north coast of Borneo in ASEAN, and enjoys a healthy economy and political stability largely attributed to its oil and gas economy. To diversify away from heavy reliance on the latter, the Bruneian Government introduced the Wawasan Brunei 2035, which aims to actively develop key sectors such as Halal, Tourism, as well as Innovative and Creative Technologies.

At the heart of this strategy was the establishment of DARe in 2016, as the national agency to nurture an entrepreneurship culture and equip Brunei’s MSMEs with the core skills to compete on the world stage. Through it’s 100-day Startup Bootcamp, participating would be guided through the full startup journey through workshops, mentorship and opportunities for market access within ASEAN.

Also read: Brunei’s legacy planning startup Memori raises US$100K funding

Javed Ahmad, CEO of Darussalam Enterprise, shared that, “Equipping early-stage startups with the skills to accelerate growth, stress-test their business ideas, and gain international exposure are crucial in today’s globalised economy. This is an important step forward in achieving the Brunei Vision 2035’s goal in raising the standards of our talent pool to develop a dynamic, diversified, and sustainable economy to compete on the world stage.”

Progress since then has been evident, as the Global Entrepreneurship Index in 2018 ranked the nation 5th in the region entrepreneurship environment, just behind South Korea, Singapore, Japan and China.

About Golden Equator Consulting (GECo)

A digitally-focused business consulting firm that helps companies with strategy, transformation, and growth. We combine real-world business experience, the Golden Equator Consulting “core” methodology and deep professional networks to provide expertise across multiple verticals, including digital transformation, consulting, market entry strategies, marketing, and web development.

Golden Equator Consulting is part of Golden Equator, a group of companies based in Singapore: Golden Equator Capital is a fund management company; Golden Equator Wealth is a multi-family office; Golden Equator Consulting provides digital and tech-focused business consultancy services with expertise in Asia; SPECTRUM is a curated technology and innovation business club; and Asia Finance is a Fintech solution platform. For more information, please visit: https://www.goldenequatorconsulting.com/

About Darussalam Enterprise (DARe)

DARe is a statutory body that looks to nurture and support local enterprises with the aim to foster their growth in order to enable them to contribute to the country’s GDP. DARe develops local enterprises by assisting in capacity building, facilitating access to funding, access to international markets as well as providing industrial spaces for SMEs to grow, business support services, and promotional services. For more information, please visit: http://www.dare.gov.bn

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