Southeast Asia’s startup scene is vibrant and thriving. Successful Asian entrepreneurs are unstoppable and determined to improve and change lives.
Like the region, startups in Southeast Asia are diverse. Each of them offers creative solutions to problems and frustrations.
We searched for ten of the most interesting startups in Southeast Asia. Here are the companies that are poised to dominate the business world.
1. Taxumo, Philippines
Founders: EJ Arboleda, Ginger Arboleda
Taxumo makes it easy for business owners and professionals to compute and pay their taxes.
The idea was inspired by Ginger’s personal struggles. “Taxes are filed every 20th of the month, on the 15th day after the quarter ended for the quarterly tax, and before April of the following year for the annual income tax. I used to collect all the receipts, manually encode them, and send them to a freelance accountant,” she recalls.
EJ, Ginger’s husband, noticed that the long process always stresses her out. He decided to develop a program that can automate the manual filing of tax return forms. The program that was first created for his wife’s ease turned to launching Taxumo. EJ and Ginger want to empower SMEs and make them better tax payers.
Taxumo can also track income online and let users pay their taxes anytime, anywhere.
Check out more of their services, visit their website at www.taxumo.com
2. ConnectNPay, Singapore
Founder: Patrick Kershaw
Myanmar’s payment system needed improvement when it opened its economy after the dictatorship. Locals had to wait in line for hours just to pay their utility bills.
Leo Tech, a Singapore-based startup, saw the opportunity to create a solution to Myanmar’s payment problem. This inspired them to create ConnectNPay, an app that lets you pay utilities through a mobile wallet.
But Myanmar’s financial structure was not ready for this payment model. Because of this, Patrick and his team redesigned the app and converted bills into digital format. This allowed users to pay their bills online, instead of standing in line for hours on end.
3. iCarsclub, Singapore
Founders: Jamie Wang and Eddie Zhang
iCarsclub is Singapore’s biggest private car rental marketplace. It’s also Asia’s first online platform that supports peer to peer car sharing.
The founders, Jamie and Eddie, first thought of creating a taxi booking system that unifies all taxi companies in Singapore. But after further research, they found out that private cars are only used 8% of the time. They changed their initial idea and launched iCarsclub.
The startup benefits two group of customers; the car owners and the commuters. Car owners make money by renting out their cars while commuters can use the vehicles when they need one.
Check out their website at www.icarsclub.com
4. TotSmart Education System, India
Founder: Saurabh Arya
TotSmart believes that the learning process should be fun for it to have a longer lasting impact.
Prasad Ajinkya, Saurabh’s business partner, noticed a problem in education system after he enrolled his daughter in school. Prasad observed that teachers can’t give children individual attention.
This inspired Saurabh and Prasad to create TotSmart. They made customized games and videos that meet the children’s personal learning needs. Their mobile app, Pedron, is in sync with what children learn at school.
Today, the startup is working with 600 schools across northern India.
Check out more of their services, visit their website at totsmart.in
5. Capere Surgical Systems, Singapore
Founders: Dr. Lim Beng Hai, Dr. Alphonsus Chong, Dr. Winston Chew, Dr. Aaron Gan, Assoc Prof Chou Siaw Meng, and Asst Prof Sylvie Castagne
Capere was founded by a group of Singapore’s leading clinicians and professors. They develop innovative orthopedic instruments, sets, and implants.
Singaporean surgeons often use the suturing technique when they repair tendons. However, problems arise from this procedure. Suture repairs have poor clinical outcomes and higher downtimes for the patient.
Dr. Lim Beng Hai, one of Capere’s founders, came up with the Capere Tendon Repair (CTR). CTR is a system made of two stainless steel implants. Surgeons will place the implants on both sides of the torn tendon, then will suture to secure it.
Aside from a stronger tendon repair, CTR also shortens recovery period.
Red Dot Ventures just invested S$1 million in Capere for clinical trials. Red Dot predicts that the company will be ready for commercialization in 2017.
You may visit their website at www.caperesurgical.org
6. Sakay, Philippines
Founders: Philip Cheang and Thomas Dy
Sakay is a web and mobile app service which makes commuting easier for Filipinos. It shows commuters the best and less congested route to their destination. It can estimate the travel time and give the routes of jeepneys, buses, and trains in Manila. It also provides an estimated cost of each transport.
Philip and Thomas designed the app because the daily commute in Metro Manila is frustrating no matter what mode of transportation you are in. The two founders realized that there’s no specific app for commuters. Car owners can use Waze but commuters have nothing to rely on.
The startup caught the interest of Uber Philippines early this year. They tied up with Sakay to make their ride-sharing services more accessible to commuters. This partnership is Uber’s first-time collaboration with a local startup.
Check them out at sakay.ph/
7. BookDoc, Malaysia
Founder: Datuk Chevy Beh
BookDoc is a mobile app that connects people to medical professionals. It is the first platform in Malaysia to offer this kind of service.
Datuk built the app after his friend had a near-death experience. His friend got ill with dengue fever, but the hospital misdiagnosed him and sent him home. When his friend’s condition worsened, Datuk sent him to the hospital. The hospital didn’t admit him right away. Frustrated, Datuk contacted another hospital and arranged his friend’s admission.
BookDoc allows users to locate and book medical appointments online. Their recent feature, BookDoc Activ, encourages people to stay fit. Users just need to sync their fitness tracker to the app. When they walk or run, BookDoc Activ will give them rewards.
Visit their website for more of their services at www.bookdoc.com/
8. FlySpaces, Philippines
Founder: Mario Berta
Flyspaces is Asia’s leading platform for flexible office rentals. They like to refer to themselves as the ‘Airbnb for office spaces’.
Mario launched Flyspaces because of personal struggles he experienced. “I had to go through the pain of finding an office myself multiple times in my previous ventures,” he recalls.
The company currently operates in Manila, Cebu, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.
You may visit their website at flyspaces.com/
9. Cryptors, Philippines
Founder: Alexis John Lingad
Cryptors is the first bug bounty platform in Southeast Asia. The idea came from Lingad’s philosophy that cyber security is not a luxury and should be a priority.
The startup caters to two markets; companies and hackers. Companies who need to secure their websites just have to choose a subscription plan. Hackers who want to learn and earn from bug hunting can register on the platform.
This year, Cryptors will launch its crowdfunding under The Spark Project. Their goal is to raise P100,000.
Find out more about their project, visit their website at cryptors.org
Which of these successful Asian entrepreneurs and startups will own 2017? We could only watch and wait to find out.
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