Singapore continues to top the world’s ranking for best spots to start a business, according to The World Bank’s Doing Business 2016 report. With venture capitalists, startup and serial entrepreneurs flocking to the country to strike it big, Singaporeans continue to enjoy the non-stop birth of startup businesses that offer a wide range of services and products.
Based on The World Bank data, 38,306 new businesses were registered in Singapore in 2014 alone. The figure jumped from 31,532 in 2012, proving how Singapore’s ranking as the world’s top city to start a business brings in more and more investors and entrepreneurs.
In the past few years, Singapore has seen a myriad of intriguing, breakthrough startup companies. We have listed down some of the most inspiring and top startups to watch out for this 2015.
Lockerfellas’ My Laundry Box
Doing the laundry is such a chore and a bore, especially for many busy professionals who simply do not have the time to be bothered by such mundane tasks. But what if you can do your laundry using a mobile app? Will it still bore you to death?
Management firm Lockerfellas launched My Laundry Box in Singapore in 2014, taking inspiration from the laundry locker service the founders saw in San Francisco, California. The first of its kind in South East Asia, My Laundry Box combines the powers of a mobile app and a laundry collection and delivery system.
My Laundry Box has numerous smart laundry lockers located all over the selected offices and residences in Singapore. Customers can simply deposit their dirty laundry in one of the smart lockers and lock it with a 4-digit code. The order will be reflected in the mobile app. The team will also inform you if the laundry is finished and you can simply unlock the smart locker and pay for the service using your mobile app. My Laundry Box, which also offers home collection and delivery, operates 24 hours, making it perfect for busy professionals on the go.
Founder Derrick Wu and his partners started with a S$360,000 capital, raised through internal funding and major investor ACE.
“Most of our investment has gone to building a robust, proprietary software system which comprises a customer-facing mobile app as well as a sophisticated system to handle and track orders in real time, analyze sales data and integrate our customer app, driver software, and backend systems,” said Wu.
Leveraging on the target consumer’s social media habits and preferences, the founders monetized on the opportunity that links mobile, social and online payments. Founded by Michael Wee and Shankar Narayanan, the company started in 2012 with a capital of S$11.36 million from venture capitalists that include Jungle Ventures and Spring SEEDS Capital.
“We’re an agnostic hub that sits between the financial and social worlds providing transaction capabilities and connecting people,” said, Fastacash chairman and CEO Vince Tallent.
Fastacash provides businesses with an online platform wherein customers can transfer certain ‘values’ such as airtime, money and other tokens through a secure online transaction. The seamless experience and utmost security Fastacash offers its clients made it hot in the market. Two years after its launch, Fastacash was named as one of the Red Herring Top 100 Asia and Global Winners as one of the 100 new and ‘disruptive’ businesses set to grow exponentially.
Do you have personal stuff that you want to sell but keep putting off because you don’t have time to set up a website, upload professional-looking photos and integrate a reliable e-commerce platform?
Selling online is made easier with Carousell, a beautiful mobile app that allows you to set up your own online store and upload eye-catching photos with the help of Instagram-like photo filters.
Not a seller? You can also buy pre-loved and new items from friends or people who share similar interests in a fast, convenient way. With a mobile e-commerce platform, anyone can be an instant seller using the Carousell mobile app.
“The problem that we saw is people have so many things at home, so much clutter at home but no one is selling them because for them it is so difficult to do so,” said Quek Siu Riu, one of Carousell’s founders.
Founded by Marcus Tan, Quek Siu Riu and Lucas Ngoo in 2012, the trio started with an S$8.8 million capital from various venture capitalists including Sequoia Capital and Golden Gate Ventures. In 2013, the founders landed a partnership deal with Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) Magazines for the creation of the SheShops Marketplace. The new mobile app is targeted towards young, female consumers who wish to sell fashion and beauty products. Apart from Singapore, Carousell now operates in Malaysia, United States, Taiwan, Indonesia, Australia and Hong Kong.
Mobile apps dedicated to bringing singles together has become a fad. Following the success of Tinder’s launch in 2012, Paktor is the Singaporean equivalent of the popular social dating app that ‘swiped’ the world by storm. Paktor means ‘dating’ in Hokkien.
The app was first launched in Singapore in 2013 and has spread to over 45 countries in Asia. And it seemed like capital firms couldn’t wait to help singles find love, the founders – Jing Shen Ng, Charlene Koh and Joseph Phua – raised a funding of over S$6.68 million.
Phua shared that the idea started when he was dumped by a long-time ex-girlfriend years ago. He was then a student in Chicago and had difficulty meeting girls post-breakup, despite using several mobile dating apps. After graduation, Phua realized that most dating apps are pre-designed for expats and that he needed a local equivalent in Southeast Asia. Using his breakup experience, Phua created Paktor to help people like him meet new people.
“Having established ourselves in the key cities in our market – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore, we hope to now expand our presence into other cities in these countries,” said Phua.
In just six months, the Paktor database doubled to five million along with the back-end team from the initial 15 to 30 employees.
Whether you’re a local or an expat, the mere task of finding a new home can suck the life out of your day. Not to mention scheduling a house viewing which means coordinating with either a sales agent or an owner, moving into a new home in the city is so tedious it requires both patience and resourcefulness.
The founders of 99.co – Darius Cheung, Anuj Bheda, Ruiwen Chua, Conor McLaughlin and Saurabh Mandar – saw an opportunity to make this transition smooth and hassle-free. The company offers a map-based presentation of all available properties in your preferred area. In one page, all the basic details you need to know are listed chronologically and accurately, complete with photos and details for the property agent.
Launched in 2013, 99.co started with S$2.5 million funding from Sequoia Capital and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. The map-based feature of 99.co and one-click viewing schedule make it a musty-try for the growing number of people taking roots in the country.
“We’re offering a new way of doing a property search. Our search results are relevant to our visitors and not corrupted by advertising money,” said Cheung.