22 startups alongside 300 handpicked ecosystem builders, corporates, investors, startup enthusiasts. Together, they represented some of the most prominent names of tech and entrepreneurship in Asia. Over 3 eventful days, if you had walked into The Factory at Phnom Penh, Cambodia, you’d have found it to be buzzing with excitement. For it was here that the 4th Seedstars Asia Summit took place.
In case you’re lost, Seedstars is a Swiss-based private group of companies. The organization aims to improve people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. To that end, it conducts several initiatives to support startups in such markets across the world. Its most famous one being the Seedstars World Competition, which has come to be known as the world’s largest startup competition in emerging markets.
The competition sees the Seedstars team travel on a 9-month global tour, organizing 100+ events to find the best startups in 65+ countries. From each country, one winner is selected to join one of the 5 Regional Summits, reuniting the winners from across the region with investors, mentors, and corporates.
As with previous years, Seedstars returned to Colombo as part of its global tour in 2019. At the local competition, we saw iLoan walk away as the winners this year and were invited to participate in this years Seedstars Asia Summit. Joining them were 21 other top startups in different industries from across Asia.
Before its main day, an intensive growth bootcamp was held, which was led by Charlie Graham-Brown – CIO of Seedstars and Kennedy Kitheka – Head of Expansion Middle East & Asia at Seedstars. The bootcamp taught the participating startups different strategies they could utilize to scale their businesses. It was then followed by an Investor Forum, where the startups had over 170 meetings with top international mentors and investors from across the region.
Finally, on the 29th of November, the Summit Day began with a series of insightful discussions. The day began with the many hand-picked attendees participating in 4 think-tank style workshops. Here, they exchanged ideas to identify tangible solutions to some of the biggest challenges our world faces. These discussions touched on the topics of building startup ecosystems, addressing challenges holding back early-stage investments, leveraging technology to tackle climate change and many more.
Later in the afternoon of the Summit Day, the conference was formally opened by H.E. Tram Iv Tek – Minister of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia. Afterwards, the 22 participating startups delivered 1-minute pitches on the main stage in front of the 300 attendees of the Seedstars Asia Summit. Additionally, the summit also featured speakers from global companies, business incubators and VC funds.
Of the startups that pitched, 14 were selected as those that showed the greatest promise. These selected startups were:
- iLoan from Sri Lanka – A loan aggregator engine for trade credit that connects lenders to borrowers through a network-driven credit management model.
- Recyglo from Myanmar – The first-ever innovative recycling service solution in Myanmar.
- Cropital from The Philippines – A crowdfunding platform connecting anyone keen to help finance farmers.
- Niunet from Papua New Guinea – This startup offers a local high-speed network that gives users free access to digital learning material.
- TraSeable Solutions from Fiji – Supports global seafood sustainability through a blockchain-ready software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for seafood traceability
- RESYNC from Singapore – Offers intelligent Energy Management platform for the future smart grids with distributed energy resources like solar, wind, batteries, EVs etc.
- Duithape from Indonesia – This is an e-payment solution that enables its clients to distribute efficient, accurate, safe and accountable payments to the unbanked
- AN VUI from Vietnam – AN VUI provides a comprehensive management solution for passenger transport businesses, transforming them into technology-based management.
- Smart Pei from Samoa – It offers an Integrated Payment Platform in the Pacific. Integrated with Digicel Mobile Money, M-Tala and The Government of Samoa Payment Gateway
- Sala Tech, Cambodia – This startup described itself as, “The premiere school management system in Cambodia.”
- iFarmer from Bangladesh – It uses data and technology to finance farming activities and also connects farmers to the businesses and retailers for market access.
- Web2Ship from Malaysia – They describe themselves as, “booking.com for logistics” and aims to help online sellers to group buy cross border shipping services and reduce their shipping costs.
- Offering Happiness from Nepal – Offering Happiness calls itself, “The only surprise planner in Nepal pioneering in Experiential Gifting & Happiness Distribution.”-
- Wondertree from Pakistan – This startup utilizes AR to gamify the methods of Physiotherapy & Special Education and making it fun and accessible to all
So what’s next for these startups? They will move onto the next stage, where they will represent the Asian region at the Seedstars Summit 2020, which will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland. Here they will compete for the title of the Seedstars Global Winner and up to $500,000 in equity investment alongside other prizes. We wish these startups the best of luck. Particularly our very own iLoan where we hope will find great success as LayUp did when it became the first Sri Lankan startup to become a global finalist at the Seedstars World Competition in 2017. We will be there to cheer them on.