In the past few years, Southeast Asian startups have been steadily expanding and tackling the region’s most critical issues. These firms develop digital solutions for their respective fields of interest, from agriculture to healthcare and many other sectors. Digital audiences have also grown dramatically in recent years.
These top 5 Southeast Asian startups are part of the push to make the region a digital hub that will increase economic growth.
This Singapore-based AI-powered property search engine uses geospatial technology to give home buyers, property sellers, and property agents the ability to search for and sell properties in a digitally smart way.
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Launched in 2018, MOGUL.sg intends to simplify property searches by using smart keywords, property labelling, and a specially curated agent concierge team to assist homeowners.
In mid-November 2022, it raised USD 6.5 million in a Series A fundraising round, with alternative investment management company Nech Capital as the leading investor. MOGUL.sg plans to use the funds to expand the functionality of its website’s 3D map, with features such as indoor mapping and navigation.
Another Singaporean-based startup, AI Communis, made its debut in 2020 and specialises in automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing (NLP). The company provides Auris AI, a web-based platform that generates transcripts and subtitles from audio and video data automatically. It translates between English and other languages, most notably Japanese, Bahasa Indonesia, and Hindi.
The startup claims to have attracted over 90,000 users (content creators, media businesses, and freelancers) from 200 countries since its beta launch in December 2021.
AI Communis has raised seed funding of USD 1.3 million, with Todai IPC (the University of Tokyo’s venture capital arm) leading the round, followed by several other Japanese venture capital funds and angel investors from Singapore. The funds will go towards strengthening Auris AI’s product offerings and helping expand operations in Asia, while simultaneously encouraging the service’s full-scale expansion to full-time and independent content creators throughout Southeast Asia.
Rootopia is a Vietnamese fintech startup whose mission is to assist students with their tuition and fee needs. It helps by connecting angel investors with parents needing school fee funding. Since its inception in July 2021, the platform has successfully connected numerous students from over 100 schools and educational institutes in 10 Vietnamese provinces and towns with angel investors.
Recently the company has raised USD 1 million from Genesia Ventures, ThinkZone Venture, and BK Fund in a pre-seed round. It intends to use the funds to expand its early user base to achieve product-market fit. It also wants to improve its digital platform to serve more students, help them enhance their futures through education and continue to impact social change in Vietnam.
Indonesian-based identity startup Privy delivers trusted digital identities and legally enforceable digital signatures to consumers. The company provides a wide range of services, such as digital identification, signatures, and verification, across various industries, such as financial services, healthcare, and education. In 2018, Privy was the first non-government organisation licenced Certificate Authority (CA) by The Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.
In November 2022, the startup received an injection of capital amounting to USD 48 million in a Series C fundraising round headed by KKR. The new funding comes on the heels of a USD 17.5 million Series B fundraising round led by GGV Capital in 2021. MDI Ventures, GGV Capital, Telkomsel Mitra Inovasi, and Singtel Innov8 were among the existing investors. Privy will use the funds to develop additional consumer and enterprise products, and to speed growth even further, the company plans to expand into international markets.
FastCo, a Malaysian-based startup, is a job and employment portal that strives to enhance the livelihoods of underprivileged and informal job searchers while providing a data-driven uniform experience for employers in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
In November 2022, it raised USD 7.5 million in a Series A fundraising round. In the extended Series A round, Malaysia-based investment firm OSK Ventures International led the funding, which attracted a total investment of USD 3.4 million in FastCo from existing investor Cento Ventures and new investor Kairous Capital.
FastCo plans to use the funds to assist its regional expansion strategy, with an emphasis on marketing campaigns. It also plans to expand its sales and product, development teams.
The emergence of these Southeast Asian startups reveals that, despite the global pandemic crisis and upcoming recession, it is possible to grow and become resilient through digital innovation. Many more companies are beginning to realise the importance of using technology to increase revenue and growth in the region. These top 5 Southeast Asian startups will aim to continue to thrive and grow in 2023 while continuing to develop and provide their clients with practical digital solutions.