Category: Startup

Poladrone and EasyLaw takes top two awards at Echelon Malaysia Pitching Showcase

The two-day tech conference Echelon Malaysia 2017 in Georgetown, Penang is finally over.

The digital platform, which was localised for the Malaysian market has managed to attract an attendance of more than 300 startups, in addition to industry veterans from the travel tech, creative content, hardware and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) to share their insights.

Another highlight in the Echelon Malaysia was the Top 100 Fight Club competition, a live startup pitching competition where the best startups pitch on the main stage in front of a judging panel made up from investors.

The judges for the competition were the Senior Executive Director of Vertex – Carmen Yuen, senior technical evangelist of Microsoft – Aswin C, the general and founding partner of KK Fund – Koichi Saito, a partner at Golden Gate Ventures – Michael Lints, and the vice president for Gobi VC – Victor Chua.

Poladrone and EasyLaw won the two top prizes, beating other participating startups which includes digital comparison platform Boleh Compare, Hotwire clone Staydilly, and Smartpeep, a startup which provides an outdoor intrusion solution.

Poladrone won the Judges Choice Award, having provided proprietary solutions for farmers to gather agricultural information while EasyLaw, a startup that helps people find fast, affordable, legal advice took home the Fan Favorite award, being the most voted in the Facebook poll.

The teams are also awarded with prizes which includes passes to Echelon Asia summit in Singapore, US$10,000 worth of Microsoft Azure credits as well as MYR3,000 (about US$600) in cash for each startup.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Chinese employee training platform YunXueTang secures US$22 million round led by SIG

YunXueTang, an employee training platform announced on Tuesday that it had raised US$22 million in a series B funding led by venture capital firm SIG, with participation from Chinese investor Li Qi.

This follows the startup’s previous funding round in 2014 from China’s Everest Venture which was worth RMB 80 million (about US$11 million).

YunXueTang is a learning management system (LMS) for employees.

The platform provides a range of services from exams to learning materials for medium and large size companies, including fields from real estate, banking, insurance, and retail.

Its products also include a learning platform for companies to create their own teaching materials, in addition to a video conferencing mobile app.

The company was founded in December 2011 by Lu Ruize, operating on a BaaS (Business-as-a-Service) model which places emphasis on content and consulting services for enterprises.

At present, the company has over 1 200 lecturers providing more than 2 000 courses for over 300 000 companies. Its customers include China Mobile Ltd, Lenovo Group Ltd., and traditional Chinese pharmaceutical company TongRenTang.

The company also claims to have recorded a revenue of RMB 100 million (about US$14 million) last year.

“Currently, a dozen of European and U.S. employee training companies have issued IPOs,” said Guo Lu, a partner at SIG. “In Europe and US, the industry is well-developed and highly penetrated, but in China, despite a 15 percent annual growth rate, the industry still focuses on providing offline services while online services are in the early stage.”

The reason for this investment, Guo Lu further adds is that YunXueTang presents the opportunity to integrate online and offline resources.

It operates on a forward-looking mindset, market accumulation, as well as an elite team which makes him believes that the company has what it takes to make it in the subversive training industry.

Meanwhile, the startup plans to use the fresh capital to improve the platform’s content, enhance consultancy services and build a sales team.

“The next step for YunXueTang is to compile its own accumulated data, and to develop in the direction of high-quality knowledge content providers,” said Lu Ruize.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Gangwon Creative Economy Innovation Center opens auditions for youth entrepreneurs in Wonju

Following a success in Chuncheon, the Gangwon Youth Startup Audition is moving on to Wonju to discover more excellent business ideas. The event will be held at the GIC Wonju office.

The programme however was first hosted three years ago under a different title – Global Venture Competition. It was initially designed to boost the startup ecosystem of Gangwon Province but later scaled down to focus on local, young entrepreneurs.

The programme will be divided into two sections: the Startup Competition and the Startup/Entrepreneur Club Support Project.

For the Startup Competition, participants are required to pitch their business ideas in front of a panel of judges. The best will be selected and granted financial support and other benefits that will help convert their ideas into successful businesses.

As for the Startup Club Support Project, the event will be held twice a year and 15 teams will be selected to compete in the programme. From the selected teams, five finalists will be chosen to receive financial prizes to aid in their business ideas.

GIC’s Wonju office will host the programmes starting April and conclude it by hosting demo days in December for selected finalists. The center plans to invite renowned entrepreneurs to the demo day to lecture and socialize with the finalists.

The programme is open to anyone under 39 years of age who is currently residing in the Gangwon Province. Young entrepreneurs who are interested in participating can apply through the homepage.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

WAmazing’s vision for a SIM Robo at all international airports wins grand prize at B Dash Camp

WAmazing, a Tokyo-based startup that offers free SIM cards and tourism services to help foreign visitors get around in Japan, has won the top prize at B Dash Camp 2017 Spring in Fukuoka which was held earlier last Friday.

Launched by Japanese VC B Dash Ventures, the B Dash Camp is an invitation-only tech summit for startups to springboard their businesses globally with sessions, lectures, and networks with both local and international internet company founders.

In 2017, the programme was held in the Fukuoka prefecture from 16th to 17th March, with the participation of 20 startups from all around the world. These startups have been selected through the preliminary document screening and gained the opportunity to take part in the Pitch Presentation. From this, six startups were later shortlisted to compete in the final pitch, including:

1. Infostellar: a platform providing antenna sharing services for artificial satellites
2. Fieldsolution: an IoT solution to reduce water resource management cost
3. Mu Yan: a content service provider using “Mangaroo” that can secondarily use licensed comic books
4. Light town: a marketplace for small-lot transport
5. WAmazing: a provider of free SIM for foreign visitors to Japan
6. PocketChange: Exchange of surplus banknotes and coins on overseas trips to electronic money etc. that can be used in Japan

During the final pitch session, Fumiko Kato, the Representative Director of WAmazing’s response to the judges’ question “if funds are abundant” was said to have won over the panelists, earning them the top prize.

Her answer was, “Consumption by tourists is occurring around the arrival and departure airport, thus it is important to expand the engagement points of visiting customers as quickly as possible. It would be best for the free SIM card with digital signage receiver to be installed in all 29 international airports in Japan, in order for it to be expanded to Asia at a stretch.”

And with Tokyo 2020 around the corner, WAmazing comes in line with the government’s goal of increasing inbound tourism figures to 40 million people by 2020, having officially released its application on January 26 this year, dedicated to inbound travelers.

The startup offers service packages which include a SIM card with up to 500MB of free mobile usage, a tour guide app, and information on reservations by working with smartphones. This will allow the startup to acquire the accounts of foreigners visiting Japan and hold settlement to various services connected from there, such as taxi dispatch services and tour reservation.

The app is currently only available in Traditional Chinese, in order to appeal to tourists in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Looking at the future, the startup plans to develop the application for foreigners from Thailand, Malaysia, and others.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

Fashion AI startup Omnious reveals an investment of US$885K from Korea Investment Partners

Transforming the fashion industry by using AI, Omnious – a Korean fashion image recognition startup recently revealed that it has received a total of 1 billion won (about US$885K) in investments from Korea Investment Partners on January 9th.

This investment comes in as a Series A funding. As last year, Omnious has received a 300 million won (about US$265K) in seed investment from Mashup Angels and Big Basin Capital.

Jeong Hwa-Mok, the Head of Korea Investment Partners which led this fundraising round said, “Omnious has the highest level of technical expertise in the Deep-learning based image recognition field and a good teamwork. We expect the company to further develop its value chain in the industry after this investment.”

But apart from machine learning which is gradually expanding into more industries, Omnious is also leveraging on two other trends which include the rise of mobile commerce and the influence of social media on fashion and culture.

Riding on these waves, the startup has developed a fashion tech app that lets users shop an outfit by simply uploading an image from a social media post, newsfeed or photos they have taken on their phone.

Their proprietary algorithm then uses visual search and image recognition technology to analyse various fashion attributes ranging from images to items, colors, forms, shapes, details, prints, and materials etc., to search for similarities between different product images and return the precise match or similar options based on the user’s catalog.

At present, Omnious’s database has accumulated more than 2.8 million fashion images. In which it plans to use 800,000 fashion images as training datasets to develop an image recognition solution that automatically tags and classifies fashion images. Ultimately, it aims to create an image search engine that enables users to find similar product information quickly and accurately.

“As consumers needs are increasingly personalized, we will provide better customer experience and customized solutions through establishing strong connections with fashion and commerce companies that are interested in using the AI technology,” said Omnious CEO Jeon Jae-Young.

Omnious also aims to become a global image recognition AI solution company, to bring the benefits of image recognition, or computer vision not only into the world of fashion, but various industries. Additionally, the company said that it plans to flip the commercialization switch for their service later this year.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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