Category: Growth hacking

Quick Snapshot of startup news in SouthEast Asian region

Sign up for the Startupixel mailing list and be the first to receive a weekly mailing list. Here’s some of the information we shared in the first weekly mail.

News/ Resources in VC and Startup scene in Singapore and the region:

1. The A-Z of Singapore startup grants and schemes

Starting a company in Singapore in the future? This is an article that you need to bookmark. There are many government grants or funding starting from $50,000 for zero equity and assistance in Singapore so make full use of them.

2. Rocket Internet rolls out SE Asia Focus hotel booking platform Zenrooms

Aside from the news above, I would like to share that in Asia and particularly Singapore, Rocket internet has become well known in the industry for having deep pockets and being swift and relentless in creating or investing in startups that scale rapidly. Many of the employees at Rocket have also gone on to start their own businesses like hipvan,com and shopback.com. Wanting to get a taste of running a startup before doing so yourself? Maybe Rocket internet is a good way to get started.

3. China’s Didi bullish on U.S. partner Lyft, criticises Uber

In Singapore, besides the regular taxis, passengers now have Uber as well as Malaysia-born Grabtaxi. So for those starting in Fonty, you can use the same Uber app as you have in your country and also enjoy first time sign up credits on Grabtaxi to get around 🙂 In China, Didi is the ‘uber’ and it has been invested by Ten Cent and GSR Ventures and in India, there is Ola.
If you are interested in specifically healthcare VC/PE deals, I recommend reading the pulse publication of Julien de Salaberry

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If you’ve any feedback, just leave a comment and love to hear your comment!

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For the latest startup news, Follow me on twitter.com/elisetanyl

Read my posts on Techinasia: www.techinasia.com/author/elise-tan/

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Attract more customers and investors in just 2 minutes

Attract more customers and investors in just 2 minutes

This post originally appears on https://www.techinasia.com/talk/attract-customers-investors-2-minutes/

Disclaimer: You may take more than 2 minutes to accomplish some of the suggestions we are sharing below to promote your startups to potential customers, partners and investors. However, there is no doubt that you are reading this article right now because you are interested to make a quick impact on your startup. To help you achieve that goal, I have arranged the tips in order of increasing complexity so start with the easiest and be inspired to accomplish the rest.

1. Make it a priority to update your own or company’s Linkedin profile
If you are a startup, it is likely that you are looking for partners and investors almost all the time. According to LinkedIn, it already had 380 million members in the second quarter of 2015, making it a huge network of customers, partners and investors to tap on.

A good Linkedin profile improves credibility and allows you to quickly gain vast networks and recommendations to influential professionals in the same industry or those interested to meet nascent entrepreneurs like yourself.

The content to update include your professional background (this is not a case of more is better, include only relevant ones to your startup) as well as past successes. Be as detailed as you can to emphasize that you are better than your peers, for example, taking a shorter time to achieve a certain successful outcome, leading a group of individuals to accomplish the same goal or even doing something outside of your expertise well to demonstrate the ability to learn and adapt quickly.

Next, do ask for recommendations from people who have worked closely with you. Make sure those recommendations appear as sincere as you can, demonstrating specific examples of how you have shined either in your startup or past work experience to demonstrate the potential that you will succeed again now. Do not underestimate the power of recommendations as it is now the new ‘word of mouth’ online.

One common question asked is what if they don’t get back to you? A good strategy to get the recommendations for yourself more quickly is to write for them first or provide them with a template to drive your branding objectives.

At the same time, do connect with people whom Linkedin recommend to you or whom you would like to meet (prominent investors, partners, employees of relevant departments in corporates) as it is just a click away. The network effect will bring you more relevant recommendations and some people may more likely connect with you because you have connected with people from their Linkedin network.

Last but not least, do include email address on your profile so that it breaks down the barriers to connect with you since interested parties can email you instead of sending you InMail.

2. Make it easy for people to know you better and build trust through online platforms
Go to Angelist and set up a profile of your company. Then, repeat for platforms like Crunchbase, F6s and e27. These platforms have vast networks of investors and individuals interested to work in startups so promoting your company’s profile there will allow others to easily discover your startup as well as potentially boost the SEO ranking of your website. I have personally tried doing this when I’m still working for a business incubator and there was an overall 20% increase in the number of queries on incubation/funding in the months that followed.
Next, do update your website to include:
Twitter website
Google+ page website
Facebook page/group website
your new personal or company’s Linkedin profile

If you have received venture capital investment or government’s grant, have you included your startup website and description on the investor’s portfolio website? Take advantage of the higher SEO ranking of the investor’s or grant website as they are probably highly visited by the rest of the startups out there.The fact that you are listed also increases your startup’s credibility as it implies that you have a validated business model.It is also important to include the same information in your own website. Ethan from Lessonsgowhere.com.sg says, “Customers who have never heard of their company before feel safer buying recreational lessons from them when they’re aware that NUS Enterprise and SPRING ACE grant supports their company.”
Peck Ying Tan, cofounder of PSLove.co, a startup which utilises physical products combined with technology to help make a lady’s life easier during “that time of the month”, shares that “People will always be looking out for signs that says “I can trust you”, whether is it by being an opinion leader in the industry (elaborated in the next point) or by simply scanning your website or profiles. Make sure they find the signs.” She also advocates the following:

Reviews reviews reviews (of your product). It takes just one minute to email or call your current customers to take a minute to review your product. Incentivise them with movie tickets (this is tried and tested to work especially in Singapore) if you will. Nothing beats testimonials by customers themselves.
Media coverage. Small media brings in the larger media. It doesn’t matter where you are being covered at the start, but make sure your company has some coverage and other media will be coming to knock on your doors. Your customers / partners are also more likely to trust you when they know you have been featured on the news. It takes just one minute to ping a journalist on Linkedin and propose a suitable angle to write about you.
Attracting success with success. Have you partnered with any big name or have any as your customer? List their logos down on your website, leverage on their names to gain trust. This is especially useful for B2B startups.
3. Establish yourself as the opinion leader in the industry
Through participation in relevant online Forums and Quora. You don’t have to participate in all the discussions and the key is contributing sustainably. For the first two minutes, create an account on relevant forums and Quora. Then set aside an hour on the same day each week to look for relevant threads and air your views.
Reach out to conferences to speak: Volunteer first to gain recognition. As a conference organiser in the past, one of the biggest headaches we have is getting the right speakers and asking them to speak at our events. Having someone who steps forward willingly is certainly much appreciated. Most conferences feature their speakers on the website and new conferences often reach out to these speakers to speak. For the next two minutes, search for suitable conferences happening in the next two to three months and start pinging the organisers.

Be guest writers on blogs like Techinasia (like me!) or other blogs that are in your industry vertical (or where your customers “hang out”). The two-minute task would be to go through what you have written previously and revise it so that it is something that a particular blog would like to publish.Set up an account and blog on Medium. For a start or to increase the mileage of your blog, Linkedin is also a great platform to share your thoughts too.
So… when are you going to start doing any of this?

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For the latest startup news, Follow me on twitter.com/elisetanyl

Read my posts on Techinasia: www.techinasia.com/author/elise-tan/

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Accelerators in Singapore at a glance

Accelerators in Singapore at a glance

This article originally appeared on https://www.techinasia.com/talk/overwhelmed-growing-number-accelerators-singapore-heres-cheat-sheet/

The number of accelerators in Singapore is growing and will continue to grow as industries like Fintech and Cybersecurity heat up. Overwhelmed? Not sure which accelerator in Singapore is the most suitable to aid your startup’s journey?

Depending on your objective, here’s a cheat sheet to help you compare the big boys in this jungle:

1. If you like the newest kids on the block – Rockstart and Muru-D

Name of accelerator: Rockstart
Country of origin: The Netherlands
Duration of program: 150 days or roughly five months
Area(s) of focus:  Web and mobile, smart energy, and digital health
Investment/Equity stake: Information not available
X-Factor: The global outreach of the Program (program runs simultaneously in Amsterdam and Singapore), the fact that many of the alumni companies are funded by prominent VCs (Greylock Partner, Balderton Capital, Notion Capital, Shamrock Ventures etc) after the program and that Chi Tran, former CTO for OgilvyOne, heads the Rockstart Southeast Asia program.

Even though Rockstart just launched in Singapore in May 2015, it is no stranger to the startup scene. Dubbed as the largest accelerator in The Netherlands, Rockstart has selected 10 ‘Globally focused’ startups to take part in the first run of its accelerator program, which will last for 150 days. It’s interesting to note that while participants attend the program mainly in Singapore but they also get the opportunity to visit San Francisco (2 weeks) & New York (2 weeks) during the program. Successful companies include 3Dhubs, Wercker, Top-Docs.

Name of accelerator: Muru-D
Country of origin: Australia
Duration of program:  180 days or Six months
Area(s) of focus:  Web and mobile, smart energy, and digital health
Investment/Equity stake: US$30,300/ 6% equity
X-Factor: Muru-D is an accelerator backed by Australia’s largest telecommunications carrier, Telstra.

Muru-D recently graduated 9 startups in their first batch in Singapore in August 2015. In Australia, where the program originates, the nine startups from the first run attracted more than US$2.4 m in follow-on funding. Impressively, all of the startups have paying customers or paid trials at the end of the six-month program.

Participating startups receive US$30,300 in seed funding each, workspace in Muru-D’s Singapore premises, and access to mentors, coaches, and investors.

2.  The most all rounded accelerator 

Name of accelerator: Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI)
Country of origin: Singapore
Duration of program: 100 days or around three and a half months
Area(s) of focus:  Scalable, repeatable, profitable businesses based in Asia for Asia
Investment/Equity stake: S$50,000/ 8.888% equity
X-Factor: The frog mascot (just kidding…) JFDI.Asia’s co-founders Meng and Hugh Mason are both entrepreneurs who have immense experience and connections to help startups succeed.

Google search “accelerator Singapore” and one of first results you will see is JFDI. JDFI claims to be the first accelerator in Southeast Asia — since 2010 JFDI has accelerated 69 startups from around the world and turned a $1 m initial investment into a $60m+ portfolio. JFDI evolved from Techstars‘ model of startup acceleration, adapting it for Asia. Most would say that this is the most all-rounded accelerator in Singapore, as we have seen several noteworthy alumni companies across multiple industries and nationalities. Personally, I have met quite a few Koreans and Norwegians at some of its Demo days.

3. If your niche is in Mediatech…

Name of accelerator: SPH Plug and Play accelerator
Country of origin: Singapore
Duration of program: 70 days or two and a half months
Area(s) of focus:  advertising, e-commerce, marketplaces, mobile, news and content distribution to public relations
Investment/Equity stake: S$30,000/ 6% equity
X-Factor: The accelerator program is run by SPH, Singapore Press Holdings, one of the largest SGX-listed media companies in Singapore.

Eight Internet start-ups (click here for more information) were recently chosen from 280 applications from around the world in the inaugural intake of the accelerator program. The firms, which are in the fields of content and content curation, learning, employment, lifestyle and data analytics, come from Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

4. If your niche is in Fintech…

Name of accelerator: AspirAsia
Country of origin: Russia (Moscow)
Duration of program: 30-180 days or one to six months
Area(s) of focus:  Fintech
Investment/Equity stake: between US$50,000 and US$500,000/ 5 to 15% equity stake
X-Factor: The accelerator program is funded by its parent company, Life.SREDA, which has recently raised $100 m for its second fund.

The accelerator just launched in May 2015 and has since selected the first batch of 8 startups. Leading the program in Asia is Huawei’s senior executive, Victor Chow.

Name of accelerator: Startupbootcamp Fintech
Country of origin: London
Duration of program: 13-week or three months
Area(s) of focus:  Fintech
Investment/Equity stake: €15,000/ 8% equity
X-Factor: The high power mentors who personally mentor each team, with profiles ranging from MD of DBS to senior members from Intesa SanPaolo and PwC. They also have support from Infocomm Investments, Jungle Ventures, PixVine and Route66 Venture which provided funding and business mentoring.

Startupbootcamp FinTech takes startups through a 13-week, mentorship driven, program that connects them to banks, investors and subject experts. The most recent run has seen 11 graduates and the demo day was held at Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, supported by big guns like Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and DBS, one of the largest local banks.

5. If you are building a Social Enterprise

Name of accelerator: Unframed
Country of origin: Singapore
Duration of program: 180 days or five months
Area(s) of focus: Social impact
Investment/Equity stake: S$10,000/ up to 10% equity
X-Factor: Besides the cash, founder Larry Tchiou promises that each team will receive close mentoring from a team with “unique expertise, experience, and network at the crossroads of tech startups, social entrepreneurship, non-profit.”

Unframed, a social impact startup incubator, this afternoon launched a five-month program called Enabling Change. Each startup will receive S$10,000 (US$7,500) in seed funding and provides Unframed with a maximum of 10 percent for those at the concept stage – to be exercised within the first two years.

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For the latest startup news, Follow me on twitter.com/elisetanyl

Read my posts on Techinasia: www.techinasia.com/author/elise-tan/

Add me on Linkedin

The 3-Step Stress Test before you start your business

The 3-Step Stress Test before you start your business

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1. Who are your target customers*?

– Describe their characteristics, behaviors, professions, country of residence and finally age, gender.

2. Validate your assumptions
– WHAT is the pain that your customers* face now? How do they currently cope with this pain? Are there a combination of tools available now that the customers can use to partially solve the problem?
– WHY would the customers want to pay for your service? What are the assumptions you have made and how have you been testing them?
– WHO are in your management team? Do their background help your team achieve your business targets? What is the gap? How are you planning to address the gap?
– WHO do you know that can help you to get your customers? How many can they bring in?
– HOW similar are the behavioral traits of the customers* you identified to those that you assume in your business model?
– WHERE would your business get your customers? What’s the conversion rate and is it realistic given the limited marketing budget?
– WHEN would you get your first 100,000 transactions? Is it one year later? How much would you need? Given the budget that you have now, is it realistic?

3. Making money

-This overall market size is >$10 billion – Is this market too broad?
This overall market size is <$1 billion – Is this market too small?

Footnotes

*Customers are paying parties for your business

**Consumers are users who may not necessarily pay

 

Getting the word out on your business — Effective Facebook marketing (Part2)

Getting the word out on your business — Effective Facebook marketing (Part2)

I came across this interesting insights on increasing your facebook’s organic reach and find it so useful that I gotta share! https://www.techinasia.com/talk/improve-facebooks-organic-reach-infographic/

3 things I find particularly memorable:

1. Post at non-peak times, around 10pm – 2am, so that you compete with less of those who are posting too

2. Post organic, behind the scenes photos. Interested readers want to know all about you

3. Ask questions, but not for the sake of it. Facebook is your channel of communicating directly with your consumers, so use the chance to know their queries, feedback and suggestions.

facebook organic reach infographic
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Getting the word out on your business — Affordable yet Effective ways (Part 1)

Getting the word out on your business — Affordable yet Effective ways (Part 1)

I will be sharing about one of my favorite subjects, Marketing and consumer psychology in this post. The ideas below are also inspired from this wonderful article from entrepreneur.com. I have added the local context to those tips I think work here and also added an estimate to the budget/customer.

Running a startup often mean two things — low budget for marketing but a vital need to be top of mind. Here’s some means to achieve both ends 🙂

Online ideas

  • Participate actively in forums
  • If your business is in the B2C space,  you may find participating in forums that are participated by your target customers very cost effective. The key is to establish credibility for yourself, engage the other forum participants in a ‘non-predatory’ manner and present your startup in a FYI, factual ways. Having people to endorse you or give good reviews and testimonials will go a long way. (Cost: your time)
  • Sell on ebay.com, qoo10.sg, amazon.com, carousel app and other e-commerce sites 
  • Why invent the wheel when there are throngs of people already buying things from these apps and e-commerce marketplaces? If your business centres around selling products to consumers, open a virtual store and start marketing your products and services.  The transaction fees get lower as your sales volume increases and it can be a good way of getting your brand noticed, before you build a loyal following which will follow you from your e-commerce marketplace store to a standalone online store.
  • Self-publish an e- book.
  • There are quite a few channels to help market e-books by amateurs and free lancers. As entrepreneur.com puts it, “Nothing screams “expert” quite so loudly as a book written about a subject.” It is as good as an advertisement for your company that’ll last forever. You won’t make money on the book. You’ll make it because of the book.

Create promo codes

  • and set them up on cuponation, retailmenot, http://www.sgcouponcode.com and vouchercodes.com.sg This is more suitable for e-commerce businesses and it helps in being discovered. ($x depending on the depth of the discount – your usual cost to acquire a customer)

Offline ideas

  • Burn the flyers… try Door-hangers on gates instead.
  • Imagine the home owner reaching out for the gate and then discovering this colorful door hangers with a promotion for your company’s product or service attractively displayed… Good idea isn’t it? However, this is just limited to businesses that are geographical based or involve delivery to home. For example: “Having a headache thinking of what’s for dinner tonight? Order now from foodpanda.com for $10 off and get piping hot dinner delivered free to your home. ($2/customer (excluding your time to hang the advertisements))
  • T-shirts and vests.
  • Not an especially unique idea but it could work if you hand them out strategically. For example, if you have thirty employees and your office is based in a highly populated area, with most being in your target segment, giving them company shirts with crisp, catchy taglines may gain you walking billboards, 5 days a week. Handing printed t-shirts to your target customers also help them to keep your brand top of mind, provided that the shirt has a nice design, the right material for the climate and right size for the wearer 🙂 ($10/customer)

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How successful startups acquired their first few users

Came across an interesting article recently and just wanted to share my thoughts on it:)

Link to article: http://www.iwillstartup.com/how-tinder-and-groupon-acquired-their-first-few-users/

Why go around the block just to get next door?

A simple quote that hits the nail on the head. I personally know of start-ups that pour thousands of marketing dollars down the drain monthly and the only one laughing its way to the bank is Facebook. As a start-up,  it’s  good start lean and avoid spending unless it’s strategic. The article mentions that Groupon had done it right by “asking fellow tenants if they’d be interested in a half price pizza at the shop on the first floor.”  When I was working for a daily deals based start-up in Singapore, back in 2011 when Daily deals sites are at its peak, instead of spending on email marketing, we did a few things that cost almost nothing:

1. Barter trade — You have 13,000 likes on your facebook page or 50,000 email subscribers; I have 14,000 likes on facebook and 50,000 email subscribers. Can we each post a facebook shoutout on the other person’s facebook page or send an engaging mail to each other’s subscriber list? This trick dates back centuries but it still work in today’s digital world. But do it smartly, posting on a facebook page that caters to car lovers won’t do if you are in the business of selling art and craft.

2.  Work on your facebook page and Participate in related facebook groups– If your product is B2C, often times facebook can help to accelerate the customer acquisition process. When I was in the daily deals start-up, we basically set up a facebook page and share interesting images, websites, articles and videos daily. We also realised that sharing them at mealtimes give us the most hits as people are basically surfing their newsfeed at that time. Go try it on yours!

We also share it (casually:p via our personal accounts ) in related facebook pages or ‘deal aggregator’ pages as it reaches to your target market directly– customers with similar interests. The trick is to share it in a casual manner.

3. Participate in related Forums— you need to do this legally as some forums do look out for people who post with commercial intent. But this strategy has worked well for consumer based product businesses, for example, mummy-preneurs often advertise their wares on forums like SingaporeMotherhood Forum.

4. Create a strong following of loyal customers

When Google launches a beta product, there are often people who queue to volunteer to help test the product etc. This is often not a tactic you can deploy when your business just started but do plan it into part of your mid term plan so that you are constantly building that network of loyal customers. Create your own trusted group of customers and keep them close so you can (almost!) sit back to watch them perform the magic.

5. Testimonials

Word of mouth marketing is king, even in this high tech age. Treat your customers well, especially your first batch of customers who had taken the plunge, and they will help to spread the news for you. Some would even be kind enough to give you testimonials so find your rare gems and display them strategically on your company website!

Let me know if any of the tips above work for you!

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