Top 7 Startups To Watch In Asia In 2021

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Over the past year, startups all over Asia have thrived in their respective fields. With the pandemic changing the way we live, people have been looking for innovation. 

Startups answer this need, addressing often-overlooked problems in modern, creative ways. And their methods are paying off. 

In the first half of 2021, startups in Asia saw $61.9 billion in funding. This was a 15% rise from its figures last year. 

Let’s check out the top seven Asian startups to watch out for in 2021.

1. Spenmo

Spenmo is a Singapore-based fintech company founded just last year, in 2020. They are currently doing business in Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

They specialize in providing financial solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. These solutions include vendor and supplier payments and payroll management.

Their most well-known services are local and international fund transfers and corporate cards. They also offer seamless expense claims and credit card to cash conversions.

Each of their clients processes around 500 to 9,000 payables per month. Spenmo’s system helps significantly in easing each company’s bookkeeping workload. 

This September, Spenmo secured one of the most extensive Series A funding rounds to date. Insight Partners, a New York-based firm, led the investment round.

The fundraiser secured $34 million for the company. This increase in resources will allow them to expand operations across Southeast Asia.

2. Ula

Founded in 2020, Ula is a marketplace app that focuses on helping small retailers. Its services focus on mom-and-pop shops and neighbourhood kiosks.

The founder drew inspiration from neighbourhood retail in India, where he came from. These types of stores are also common in Indonesia, where Ula is now based. The app aims to streamline and modernize the supply chain for these smaller shops. 

These stores and kiosks are a large part of day-to-day commerce in Indonesia. But, most of them haven’t yet adopted modern technology in their operations. They still rely most on physical travel for payments and filling their inventory.

This is the issue Ula seeks to solve. As of May 2021, they already have over 30,000 small businesses signed onto the app. 

Last September, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos made his first investment in the company.

3. BeatO

BeatO is a healthcare platform that helps users manage chronic diseases like diabetes. Since its founding in 2015 and app launch in 2016, it has acquired half a million app installs.

In its five years, the company has built a comprehensive selection of services. Its users can find resources for every aspect of chronic disease management.

They have doctors and health coaches on call. You can also utilize their app to order medicines and book lab tests. Their online shop offers a wide selection of food, supplements, and monitoring devices.

In 2020, the company got ISO certified. And this year, they have expanded their operations from India to Singapore.

4. Logivan

Founded in 2017, Logivan is a Vietnam-based logistics and transportation startup.

The company offers a technological solution to Vietnam’s fragmented highway transportation network. It connects businesses to reliable trucks to streamline their logistics processes.

Through digitizing the process, businesses and truckers alike can save on logistics costs. Logivan ensures to maximize each truck’s trip, minimizing the waste of resources.

Currently, they can connect a network of over 60,000 truck drivers to various companies. Some of their company clients include Coca-Cola, Wilmar, and Olam, among others.

As of this year, the company is worth $7.9 million. Their key backers include Insignia Ventures Partners, K3 Ventures, and VinaCapital. 

5. Agrist

Japan is currently facing a shortage of farming labour. It is a critical industry, especially on food security. But, not enough young farmers are replacing their older counterparts.

Agrist is a Japan-based farming venture that seeks to address this problem. Founded in 2019, the company develops AI-driven robot technology to assist farmers. 

Their robot harvesters aim to supplement this limited labour supply. In turn, the technology will help sustain Japan’s agriculture in the years to come.

Currently, Agrist has raised over $4.5 million in capital. They charge $15,000 for a three-year lease plus 10% of the harvester’s profits.

6. Classum

Classum is a South Korean education platform for teachers and corporate trainers. It simplifies the process by putting all necessary tools in one place.

It unifies chat, video, and learning tools, with a user experience much like social media sites. The familiar format makes it easier for educators to engage with learners.

The platform also analyzes lesson data for the user. They collect information on participation rates, top content, and member performance.

As of April this year, Classum has raised $6.7 million in three funding rounds. Some of their prominent investors are Korean gaming companies Pearl Abyss and Smilegate.

7. Dayta AI

Founded in 2018, Dayta AI is a Hong Kong-based software company. They specialize in retail analytics based on video captured through surveillance cameras.

Through surveillance footage from retail stores, Dayta’s software analyzes consumer behaviour. It collects information about peak hours, customer demographics, and store traffic.

The information their AI gleans can help businesses pinpoint specific strengths and weaknesses. This allows retailers to adjust their strategies to improve sales and customer experience.

Dayta AI has currently raised $3 million. This amount includes funds from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and ParticleX.

These seven companies only show a mere fraction of the actual number of Asian startups on the rise. Even an active pandemic cannot halt human innovation.

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