Category: Business

Thai ICO Unicorn Omise secures investment from Global Brain

Thailand-based blockchain and online payment startup Omise said that they are raising an undisclosed financing round led by Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain.

The round was participated by Mitsui Fudosan’s corporate venture arm, 31VENTURES, and existing backer Indonesian VC firm Sinar Mas Digital Ventures (SMDV) returned to increase its stake.

Omise said the investors will help it penetrate Japan, Southeast Asia, and other high-growth markets, to make cooperation with potential clients in these countries easy.

“This undisclosed funding not only brings in additional financial support, but more importantly, connectivity with strategic partners to strengthen the reach of the financial infrastructure currently in the development phase by entities under Omise Holdings – Omise payments, OmiseGO, and GO.Exchange,” noted a company statement.

Founded in 2013, the fintech startup last raised an undisclosed Series B+ round led by Krungsri Finnovate, the CVC arm of Krungsri Bank (Bank of Ayudhya) in September 2017.

It secured a US$17.5-million Series B round led by SBI Asset Management in 2016, besides raising US$25 million through an initial coin offering (ICO) for building an etherum-based payment network last July. Its market cap crossed US$1 billion in August last year, nudging it into unicorn territory.

Omise and Global Brain have partnered with each other on several ongoing foundational projects including the Ethereum Community Fund and a blockchain-focused co-working space, Neutrino. The fintech startup said both parties will continue to progress on these projects.

In December last year, Global Brain and Omise also announced that they will set up a new blockchain-focused fund.

Global Brain started dabbling in the blockchain space three years ago, eventually launching a separate arm, GB Blockchain Labs Corporation (GBBL), last year, The VC, which manages assets worth approximately US$1 billion, has invested in blockchain startups such as and Bluzelle.

Last year, Global Brain closed its $180-million sixth fund, its largest since its inception in 2001. The fund, which is currently investing, backs companies offering Internet of Things (IoT), hardware, enterprise, robotics, education and commerce solutions.

Omise provides a digital payments gateway somewhat in the mold of US unicorn Stripe, incorporating an acceptance interface, e-wallet, and cross-border remittances. It also offers its own blockchain layer and cryptocurrecny – both named OmiseGo- as well as Go.Exchange, a platform for trading and converting digital tokens and fiat currency.

Omise has already partnered with Global Brain in the past. The two have collaborated on initiatives including the Ethereum Community Fund and Neutrino, a blockchain-focused co-working space with branches in Tokyo and Singapore.

According to Omise, the strategic partnerships with Global Brain, Mitsui Fudosan, and SMDV will assist its expansion plans in “Japan, Southeast Asia, and other key, high-growth markets, including building partnerships and alliances with its potential clients.”

A spokesperson for the startup told Tech in Asia that it aims to sign up new enterprise clients regionally and globally. While Omise has been present in Japan since May 2016, it anticipates significant growth opportunity for its products in the country.

“Japan is one of most enthusiastic countries when it comes to adoption of new technology such as blockchain and new forms of payments […] We have a number of services under Omise Holdings which our investors’ portfolio companies could choose to implement according to the requirements of their business needs,” the spokesperson said.

Omise’s most recent venture round was its US$17.5 million series B raise in July 2016. Japan’s SBI Investment led that round, with Krungsri Finnovate – the VC unit of Thailand’s Bank of Ayudhya – providing follow-on funding last year.

In a July 2017 initial coin offering, Omise raised the equivalent of US$25 million.

OmiseGo passed a US$1 billion market cap in 2017 and became the First ERC20 tokens – subtokens that are built on the Etherum network and sold to investors via an ICO to pass the unicorn mark based on the total value of coins that hve been distributed, alongside Qtum.

The OMG token sale, which raised $25 million, took place in July and initially one OMG token was worth around $0.27. Today, the value is at more than $11, giving a return of more than 40X to anyone who bought in at the ICO stage.

Byju’s Fresh US$100 Million Funding From General Atlantic Boosts New Valuation to US$2 Million

Byju is the first edtech startup to get unicorn status in India.

India’s largest education tech startup Byju’s, which reinvents academic learning through the mobile app, has recently raised a US$100 million funding from private equity player General Atlantic for a 5 percent stake in the startup.

This marks General Atlantic first investment in the education space, amidst the New York-based growth equity fim 115 investment portfolio which includes likes of AirBnB, Slack, and Snapchat.

Its investment are usually/ mainly made in four global sectors – consumers, finance, health, and technology. Byju’s is an exeption in the pool of its investment portfolio companies.

This brings the startup aggregrated funding to a total of US$344 million in funding over eight rounds.

With this, Byju’s valuation is reevaluated at US$2 billion, which more than doubles the startup’s value from its previous round in July 2017 where Byju’s secured about US$40 million from Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Founded in 2008 by Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath, Byju’s has its office in Mumbai

In May 2018, Byju’s claimed that it is one of the few India-based billion-dollar startups that has become profitable. The startup reported a revenue of more than Rs 100 crore (about US$1 billion) that pushed the edtech firm to revise its annual revenue guidance to Rs 1400 crore.

Byju’s has also made a few acquisition in a short period of time. In July 2018, Byju’s acquired Bengaluru-based Math Adventures, a math learning startup for an undisclosed amount.

While in 2017, the startup has acquired and Vidyartha (SPAN Thoughtworks Pvt. Ltd.) both based out of Bengaluru.

BYJU’s is backed by investors such as Tencent, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg), Belgian family office Verlinvest and the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation.

Best-Selling Malaysian Author and Facebook Marketing Trainer Marcus Teoh to Speak in the United States

California, US – October 2, 2018 —

Malaysia’s best-selling author and Facebook marketing trainer Marcus Teoh will be attending Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale and University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) to deliver a lecture entitled “Zero Budget Facebook Marketing”.

The talk will highlight contents from his own book “Now or Never” which features a Zero Budget Facebook Marketing (#ZBFM) strategy that Teoh himself has formulated and replicated into many successful Facebook marketing campaigns. “Now or Never” managed to hit the top ten weekly best sellers for an accumulative 21 weeks with not a dime spent on advertising.

#ZBFM helped Teoh, a first-time author, to win one of the greatest English Book awards in Malaysia, the “MPH Bookstore 2017 Top Ten Best Business Nominee”, alongside world-famous billionaires like Sir Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Jack Ma. MPH bookstore is Malaysia’s largest and most influential English bookstore chain.

Although he started as an entrepreneur, Teoh soon realized his passion as a speaker and trainer. He is best known in Malaysia for his two flagship training programs “Start a Business with only RM199” and “Zero Budget Facebook Marketing (#ZBFM)”.

On September 26, before heading to the United States, Teoh conducted a full day Facebook Marketing Workshop to a group of entrepreneurs, including a participant who has hearing and speech disability. He shared his knowledge and aspired his guests to start working on their own #ZBFM to success, even with zero or minimum budget.

Marcus Teoh will start off his journey in the States by visiting the Technology, Ecosystem, and Culture (TEC) Immersion Program from September 30th to October 4th. It is an event organized by the Productivity Nexus for Retail and Food & Beverages in partnership with the University of California Berkeley.

36 Malaysian businesspersons will be traveling to four of Silicon Valley’s largest business organizations including Google and Target. Teoh will be taking part in this as a Facebook Marketing Trainer under the food and beverage community known as F&B Connects, which is home to over a hundred food and beverage brands.

This is then followed by presenting a lecture at Forbes’ America’s best startup school SIU Carbondale and his final stop will be another lecture at UMKC.

Teoh is excited about the opportunity to lecture at the top rated Business Schools and share his expertise and insights on Facebook Marketing. The lecture is geared toward all the aspiring entrepreneurs with the drive to market themselves or their businesses without paying for advertising. Teoh is all geared up to inspire, encourage and guide all his guests on the many uses of psychology and hacks on Facebook. This will be the first time “Now or Never” is brought to the United States.

About Marcus Teoh:

As a Facebook Marketing Trainer, Author of “Now or Never”, serial start-up Entrepreneur and former Entrepreneurship Lecturer in a premier university, Marcus Teoh uses his knowledge and experience to inspire and guide aspiring entrepreneurs. Teoh has seen great success with “Now or Never”, as the book has been on the MPH Bookstore’s Top Ten Bestseller List for twenty-one weeks and counting. He is also actively sharing his strategies to help entrepreneurs with a limited budget to excel.

“Your network is your net worth only if you work it” – Marcus Teoh, Facebook Marketing Trainer, Top Selling Author of “Now or Never”

Contact Info:
Name: Marcus Teoh
Organization: Marcus Teoh Global

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Warburg-backed Singapore unicorn Trax targets US$3 billion valuation in next three years

Trax, a computer vision solutions and analytics firm based in Singapore is targeting to reach US$3 billion in valuation over the next three years. It currently stands at nearly US$1 billion.

Its Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Joel Bar-El spoke at DealStreetAsia’s Asia PE-VC Summit 2018, explaining that the valuation target is not far-fetched as the company has already reached the unicorn mark of US$1 billion last month.

So far, Trax has raised an accumulative capital of US$286.7 million across 8 rounds since June 2011, with a notable US$64 million funding round led by American private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Other backers in the startup also include Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital and Broad Peak Investment, a hedge fund backed by Singapore’s state investment fund Temasek Holdings.

In fact, Trax reached a valuation of US$1 billion a year after it raised US$64 million in a funding round led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

“Warburg Pincus told us to get US$3 billion valuations in three years and we are already one-third of the way out of the three years. That is something we could not have thought of or envisioned to achieve without them pointing the way,” Bar-El said.

Besides, the co-founder also added that the continuous growth of the business is expected to push the company into a billion-dollar revenue firm in the next few years.

“Essentially, growth margins are there,” said Bar-El. “Our growth has been about three digits year-on-year for the past years so we are growing very fast. We are investing back all our profit into the growth of the business and as long as that formula works, profitability will not be an issue.”

The Proprietary Image Recognition Technology

The retail database and analytics platform that Trax produces is one-of-a-kind. It is the only company in the world that has managed to create a working computer vision platform that works in real time at the speed and scale that they are providing, and that is analyzing over a quarter of a billion of images every month.

This helps consumer companies enhance brand awareness and optimize store management by applying image recognition technology, which disrupts the traditional way of measuring and managing inventory.

The startup provides in-store execution, market intelligence, and data science solutions for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and retailers through its computer vision-to-platform, in order to process photos taken in store and deliver granular store-level insights within minutes.

Today, the startup has offices in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America, and counts brands such as Coca-cola, Heineken, Nestle and Henkel among its clients.

Today, the startup has offices in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America, and South America, and counts brands such as Coca-cola, Heineken, Nestle and Henkel among its clients.

Moving forward, the company looks to first accelerate its growth in China, where it expects backer Boyu Capital that invested in the company last month to make it a unicorn to help open some doors.

“We plan to grow in China so that it generates 25 percent of our revenue in the next three to five years,” said Dror Feldheim. ”I think the Chinese market has huge potential and can be as big as the North American market for Trax.”

On the same note, Bar-El also considers Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the future. It is another milestone but not a goal yet as of present.

Previously, before the company reached unicorn status, Trax had already been looking at exchanges in Australia and Tel Aviv, however the growth of the company over the years could also see itself listing on the United States Exchange Board where most of its customers are based.

“We will do an IPO at some stage but we are currently considering when is the right timing, so there is no specific date or time,” he said.

Interestingly, Trax has not had a single customer in home base Singapore. “We’ve never had a client in Singapore, and we still don’t today. We just happened to be living in Singapore, and it turned out to be the natural place for us to start the business,” said Bar-El.

B2B Online Marketplace Udaan Becomes India’s Fastest Unicron after US$225 Million Series C Funding

The Flipkart Mafia has done it again. While Flipkart had made headlines earlier this year when acquired by Walmart at a US$16 billion deal, Bengaluru-based B2B online marketplace Udaan – founded by former Flipkart employees – has also become India’s latest unicorn.

The startup has recently raised a US$225 million Series C funding round co-led by Russian internet billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Global and existing investor Lightspeed Venture Partners, which previously led its Series A and Series B funding.

This brings the total aggregated funding to US$285 million, with the startup jumping up to a US$1 billion valuation within just 26 months of its launch. This makes it one of the fastest company in India to reach the unicorn status.

Remarkably, the latest valuation has also seen a surge of almost five times since its last US$50 million Series B funding in February 2018 with its valuation worth only US$200 million.

Unicorns Pick Pace in India

In fact, the year 2018 can rightly be said as the year of unicorns, with as many as six new startups joining the unicorn club in India.

That is apart from Udaan, the remaining startups who reached a US$1 billion valuation in 2018 are BYJU’s, Paytm Mall, Swiggy, PolicyBazaar, and SaaS startup Freshworks.

However it is not just an increasing number of unicorns, Indian startup unicorns are also achieving the status quicker compared to past unicorns.

India’s most valued tech company Flipkart took five years to reach the unicorn status, while delivery app Zomato also garnered its US$1.4 billion valuation in 2017 after nearly 10 years in business.

In comparison, 3D printing company Desktop Metal crossed the threshold at 21 months old while Craiglist competitor Letgo also became a unicorn in just 2 years. Though Udaan also made a record of reaching unicorn status in 26 months, the reason lies in its development.

Udaan’s Growth in the Past 26 Months

Launched in 2016, Udaan is an end-to-end marketplace that connects small- and medium- businesses directly with manufacturers. It runs an online platform for businesses in consumer goods, fashion and electronics, and offer logistic services and loan services.

The startup was founded by three former Flipkart employees – Sujeet Kumar, Amod Malviya, and Vaibhav Gupta – who were previously Flipkart’s President of Operations, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President of business finance and analytics.

In ecommerce space, the market opportunity has been huge and Udaan focuses on the wholesale business to retail market sector.

As of February 2018, the startup has accumulated 150,000 in their seller base across 80 cities and delivers to more than 500 cities, with an average order value between INR 6,000 to INR 7,000 (about US$83 to US$97).

As a whole to date, Udaan is hitting revenues of Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore (about US$47.8 to US$55.7 million) every month, which is said to contribute to the five-fold increase on their business valuation in less than a year.

Bejul Somaima, a managing director at Lightspeed India that’s been on the company board since Series A told TechCrunch.

“We have been fortunate to see the company scale very rapidly from close quarters. We’re drawn to the company’s first-principles approach to solving significant problems that are unique in the Indian context.”

That is Udaan helps businesses discover customers, suppliers and products across categories and connect directly with each other for the best deal, in addition to facilitating buying and selling with secure payments and logistics.

Udaan’s Next Phase for Growth

While right now electronics and consumer goods are for sale on the app, Udaan plans to expand into more verticals including industrial goods, home and kitchen, office supplies, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The newly raised funds are also expected to be utilized for establishing its logistic pieces as it aims to offer first mile and last mile services to its customers, as well as launching their own supply-chain solution, which will involve creating massive warehouses to store inventory.

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