Category: Business

CO3, Probably South East Asia’s Coolest Office Launched in Malaysia

Malaysia based co-working space startup CO3 Social Office officially launched their first office location in Puchong, Malaysia today. The opening of the Puchong office marks the completion of the first out of five offices the company had planned.

Early this year, the startup revealed their ideology in Connexion at Nexus, Bangsar South. During the 1,500 people event, the team from CO3 presented their plan to deliver the “coolest office in Malaysia” by June 2017. In the same event, they had also announced the plan to open 5 offices in 12 months.

“We have said it, now we have done it”, said Yong Chen Hui, Founder & CEO of CO3 Social Office. “The journey wasn’t easy but our aspiration took us here.”

"We have said it, now we have done it". said Yong, CEO of CO3
“We have said it, now we have done it”, said Yong, CEO of CO3

In celebration of the first workspace opening, the team organised a weeklong celebration including two housewarmings, a grand opening ceremony, and an exclusive social gathering with Bruneian artist Goh Kiat Chun or better known as Wu Chun. Now a full-time entrepreneur, the ex-singer Wu Chun is the non-executive director of the newly launched co-working space. As part of the weeklong celebration, the 44-year-old entrepreneur shared his rich experiences in entrepreneurship with a group of young influencers.

Wu Zun, one of CO3 co-founders having a sharing session with Malaysian's top social media influencers.
Wu Zun, one of CO3 co-founders having a sharing session with Malaysia's top social media influencers

When asked about the differentiating factors that set CO3 apart from the existing co-working offices in the region, Yong brought up an interesting point. The “heartware” he said. He explained that besides the hardware (the facilities) and the software (the mentor supports and business networks) which almost every co-working office provides, CO3 social office is promoting an intangible spirit called the “heartware”.

It’s made up of 3 key elements namely freedom, dignity, and trust. “We allow ideas to travel freely within this space, we promote the concept of same rank where everyone has their own space, and we want to build trust within the members,” he added.

The spirit of CO3 is to allow free travel of ideas between the members.
The spirit of CO3 is to allow free travel of ideas between the members

Further embodying the spirit of “heartware”, this co-working space allows flexible leasing for as short as a month and an adopted honor system for the food and beverages in the workspace. Additionally, all the net proceeds from the honor system will be donated to charitable causes.

Built upon CO3 honor system, members pay for their food and beverages without any supervision.
Built upon CO3’s honor system, members pay for their food and beverages without any supervision.

With millennials slowly taking over the workforce, talent attraction and retention is more challenging than ever. Hence the company is confident that augmenting the importance of human-centric “heartware” will be an alternative solution to talent retention.

Yong, CEO of CO3 giving a speech on the importance of "Heartware"
Yong giving a speech on the importance of "Heartware".

CO3 Social Office also positioned itself as a unique concept that can be implemented in existing corporate environments and real-estate locations, improving their appeal to the new generation of white collar professionals, on top of optimising the utilisation of their existing assets.

Jeff Ong, Executive Director of CO3 explained that many offices have unutilised real estates like meeting rooms or under-utilised real estates like manager rooms. Co-working space helps companies to turn these real estate cost into revenue.

CO3 maximizes the value of real estates by having shared meeting rooms, brainstorm area, and other facilities among the members.
CO3 maximizes the value of real estates by having shared meeting rooms, brainstorm area, and other facilities among the members.

On the day of the launch, Yong also revealed that the 22,000 sq feet working space has achieved more than 80% occupancy, with 200 members from various professions including the legal, corporate secretary, production house, event, media, and tech startup industries. CO3 Social Office is not just the coolest office in Malaysia, but it’s also the largest of its kind in the region. Believing in the concept of constant growth, the team had planned to outdo their current accomplishment. Yong stated that this first office is built to prove the concept of co-working area in Malaysia. Ready to achieve their next goal, they are eyeing their second location which will take up 80,000 sq feet in a 5 storey building. The location is 4 times larger than its predecessor and is said to be along Jalan Semangat. When asked about the remaining 3 locations, Yong explained that scouting process is ongoing. Though the exact locations are not finalised, the team is looking to complete these locations by Q2 2018.

More shots of CO3 Social Office:

A bright red plane in the middle of the office to usher the members TO FLY
A bright red plane in the middle of the office to usher the members TO FLY.

CO3 slide

CO3 game zone

CO3 bean bag area
CO3 comes with an assortment of entertainment & relaxation facilites.

CO3 Cafe

CO3 coffee area
No short of good foods & beverages in the premise.

For more information, please visit http://co3.co

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A special report by PRWIRE Asia.

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Navis to raise up to US$2 billion in eighth fund

Southeast Asia’s leading PE firm Navis Capital Partners is set to launch its eighth fund in 2018. The vehicle will be significantly larger than the firm’s current fund Navis VII worth US$1.5 billion.

According to Navis, its seventh fund is currently in its third and final year at 70 percent drawn – a stage where most PE players have started to actively plan their new successor fund.

But so far no plans have been finalized for the size or timing of a successor fund, though the firm is said to be looking to raise up to US$2 billion for its next fund.

As an investor with a large presence in Southeast Asia and Australia, Navis focuses on building a portfolio related to food processing, restaurant dining, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods, outdoor advertising, auto rentals, consultancy, healthcare, and professional business services.

The Kuala Lumpur-based firm has invested in Chinese restaurant chain Imperial Treasure, Indonesian medical equipment distributor Tawada Healthcare, Vietnam’s Hanoi French Hospital and furniture and lifestyle brand Christian Liaigre, among some.

With Navis VIII, the PE firm plans for smaller investments below US$50 million to further extend its investments into the region. These investments in the range of US$10 million to US$50 million, which Venture Capital firms often find too big and Private Equity players find too small, can work to fill the requirements for certain players.

The firm’s exits for this year include the divestment of its controlling stake in retail apparel South Africa’s The Foschini Group to Australia’s Retail Apparel Group (RAG) in a deal worth US$225 million. The firm also sold its interest in Guardian Early Learning Group, a child care business operating a network of 71 child care centers across Australia, to funds managed and advised by Partners Group.

Navis Partners Capital currently manages several private and public equity funds totaling to US$5 billion in equity capital and has made more than 70 controlling investments since its inception.

It has one of the largest private equity professional teams in Asia, consisting over 60 individuals and supported by over 30 administrative staff in eight offices across the region.

Julo raises seed round led by Skystar Capital to serve the underbanked consumers

Indonesian peer-to-peer (P2P) lending startup Julo has landed an undisclosed seed funding led by Skystar Capital, with participation from East Ventures, Convergence Ventures, and other undisclosed angel investors.

The capital will be used to accelerate financial inclusion in Indonesia, that is focusing on the 100 million underbanked people to obtain loans for their various personal use.

According to Julo’s Co-founder Adriansus Hitijahubessy, it will be primarily spent on product and business development, in addition to machines learning investments, team development and distribution.

“The idea for Julo started when I was building AI-based credit scoring solutions for emerging countries in my previous company,” said Hitijahubessy. “As successful as it was, I realized that instead of helping consumers in Latin America and African countries to gain access to credit, I should be helping people in my home country.”

Hitijahubessy also notes that Indonesia is a suitable seedbed for the fintech lending company, as the country has a large segment of the population at the base of the financial pyramid and low consumer credit liquidity equipped with information technology.

Along with Hans Sebastian and Victor Darmadi, Hitijahubessy set up Julo, a personal loan app for Android users. This allows loan applicants to apply for a small personal loan from their phones, where they are required to submit pictures of personal documents.

Successful applications can receive their loan within the next 24 hours, with a maximum permissible loan size of about US$600 and a payment period up to six months.

Besides, it is the startup’s credit scoring algorithm that allows users to manage loans, due dates, and cash back bonuses paired with alerts and reminders, which draw Skystar Capital to invest.

Edward Gunawan, the Partner of Skystar said, “We believe that having a strong credit scoring algorithm is a key differentiator for P2P lending startups. Driven by a technically strong founding team, Julo is one of the first locally grown P2P lending startups. ”

The startup generates revenue from a provision fee from borrowers and service fees from lenders. Since its launch in January 2017, Julo claims to have 50,000 app downloads and more than thousands lenders.

Julo hopes the company will reach a critical mass of 10,000 borrowers within the year, and accelerate the development of its credit scoring engine.

Katrina enters JV with Ajisen China to expand So Pho brand in China, Hong Kong

Singapore’s food and beverage company Katrina Group announced today that it has entered into a subscription and shareholder’s agreement with Big Benefit Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ajisen (China) Holdings.

The deal will see Katrina holding a 30 percent stake in the joint-venture company which manages and operates snack bars, cafes, restaurants and other food services serving Vietnamese-style dishes under the brand – So Pho in Hong Kong and China.

Alan Goh, the Founder, CEO and Executive Chairman of Katrina said, “We are excited to partner Ajisen China, which is one of the largest and most successful restaurant chains in China. This collaboration will extend our geographical reach in China and help us enter the Hong Kong market.”

“It is a bold step in the right direction in further strengthening Katrina as a regional F&B group. We look forward to a long-lasting partnership with Ajisen China and further opportunities to come,” he added.

HKEX-listed Ajisen China is one of the leading restaurant chain operators with a retail network of close to 700 restaurants in 120 cities and 30 provinces in China and Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Katrina Group is a food and beverage business specializing in multi-cuisine concepts and restaurant operations. It owns and operates 33 restaurants in Singapore under nine different brands including Bali Thai and Streats.

In terms of funding, Katrina and Ajisen China will provide a working capital for So Pho International of up to US$450,000 and US$1.05 million respectively, through interest-free shareholder’s loan.

Katrina will also trademark So Pho International as a sole and exclusive right to use, sub-license and franchise the trade name of “So Pho” and associated logos, designs and trade names in mainland China.

Wai Poon, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Ajisen China said, “We are glad that this collaboration has come to fruition. With our strong track record and Katrina’s brand development capabilities, we look forward to growing the “So Pho” brand in China and Hong Kong to build mutual success for both Ajisen China and Katrina.”

HoloEyes raises US$1.3 million Series A to help surgeons stimulate operations in VR

Japanese Virtual Reality (VR) startup HoloEyes, which develops surgical simulation content for doctors, announced recently that it has raised 150 million yen (about US$1.3 million) in a Series A round from Nissay Capital.

This follows a 10 million yen (about US$89K) seed round the company has secured from Japanese VR-focused acceleration program Tokyo VR Startups (TVS) after graduating from its 2nd batch. The investment proceeds from the round have been used for product and business development.

Founded in October 2016, HoloEyes was set up by app developer Naoji Taniguchi, surgeon and visiting associate professor Dr. Maki Sugimoto, and Kenichi Shinjo who has previously worked as the producer of AllAbout and COO of Appliya.

Developed for medical use, the startup’s VR content solution known as HoloEyes VR is designed to provide 3-dimensional images for surgeons and other medical staff to understand the surgical procedure more intuitively.

The technology is based on cloud services that can convert a specific patient’s medical diagnoses, such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays into polygons for the medical staffs to freely view then in 3D space using VR devices.

Collecting and accumulating the data from CT scans, HoloEyes eventually plans to form 3D human body models based on its medical VR database. Moving forward, the startup may assume a business model based on a search database to retrieve 3D images based on certain keywords.

For example, it could be possible to search “60s male prostate cancer” and retrieve the 3D images for a similar case which can be used by a doctor for diagnosis or surgery training. The possible use cases could also include sharing surgical plans and easier explanation for patients.

In December 2016, the team won the Tech Lab Paak award at the event’s 6th Demo Day, while in January 2017 they were awarded the Amazon AWS prize at the Demo Day of the 1st batch of Brave – the acceleration program by Tokyo-based life science-focused startup VC/ accelerator Beyond Next Ventures.

With the proceeds from Series A, HoloEyes plans to build the system and business base for HoloEyes VR and expand its staff.

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