15 June 2016

Singapore winners of Ascendas-Singbridge Her Startup 2016 named

Source: The Ascendas-Singbridge Group. From left: Ho Kheng Lian, Venture Partner, Vectr Ventures; Natalie Loh, Vice President of Products, Vanitee; Kuik Xiao Shi, Co-Founder, Vanitee; Pocket Sun, Founding Partner of SoGal Ventures; Adrianna Tan, Founder, Wobe; Virginia Tan, Co-founder and Managing Director of Lean In China; Adeline Quek, Head of Regional Business Development, Grabtaxi; Mrs Nina Yang, Chief Operating Officer of Singbridge.

The Ascendas-Singbridge Group has crowned two winners from the Singapore round of the Ascendas-Singbridge Her Startup 2016 competition. Of nine shortlisted finalists from Singapore, Vanitee and Wobe won the judges over. The two will compete in the grand finals of the competition in Silicon Valley in the US on 20 July 2016.

Ascendas-Singbridge Her Startup 2016 is the world’s first cross-border startup competition for female entrepreneurs. Jointly organised by TechBase, SoGal, Lean In China and Krspace, the competition provides a means for women to showcase their ideas and innovations on an international platform. At least one member of each participating team must be a woman, or the product or services of the participating team must serve and impact women positively. Asia's sustainable urban solutions and business space provider Ascendas-Singbridge is the full title sponsor for this year’s contest.

Vanitee is a beauty and wellness marketplace community which allows consumers to connect with beauty professionals for their services. Co-founder Kuik Xiao Shi said: “Our priority is to strengthen our customer relationships and to perfect the user experience. We’re also proud to have grown Vanitee into a powerful channel for beauty professionals, both women and men, to market their craft. Expanding the business is on the horizon.”

Wobe is a developer of mobile business and finance tools for the Southeast Asian woman. Founder Adrianna Tan said: “We are looking to transform today’s microbusiness landscape and to create equal access in cash-based Asian economies such as Indonesia. The mobile application that we’ve developed will enable low income groups with no access to capital, to buy and resell prepaid credits in a more streamlined and cost efficient manner. This improves ease of transactions and allows them to start small businesses.”

The company is looking to execute a national rollout in the next few months, which will take the mobile application into cities and non-cities in Indonesia.

Virginia Tan, Co-founder and Managing Director of Lean In China, who founded the Her Startup competition in 2015, said: “Today we are seeing many more women entrepreneurs coming forward with innovative business ideas. However one of the key challenges that women entrepreneurs face is the lack of access to funding. The competition has to-date featured many early-stage startups
whose innovations have subsequently put them in prime position for initial rounds of financing. Last year, 40% of our global finalists attracted over US$5 million in funding in total after the competition. Providing access to knowledge, expert advice, and an opportunity to network with an established and supportive community, can be very empowering as the competition has shown.”

The live pitching round in Singapore on 14 June was held at Workcentral, a co-working space at Dhoby Ghaut which aims to build a purpose-driven community that works, learns, shares and grows together. Each shortlisted Singapore startup was given five minutes to present their ideas judges including representatives from app-based ride-hailing service GrabTaxi, SoGal Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on investing in female-led startups, and venture capital funds Arbor Ventures, Venturra Capital, Vectr Ventures and KK Funds. The teams were evaluated on their business model, experience and potential of their founding team, as well as the scalability of their product and markets.

Pocket Sun, founding partner of SoGal Ventures and one of the judges, said: “The teams were all very impressive and it was a challenge selecting the winners. However, Vanitee demonstrated tremendous growth and traction, and a strong degree of execution. The Silicon Valley programme would be a great entry point for them in the US. Wobe’s mobile application promises to empower unbanked women in Indonesia and to improve their livelihoods. Their founder showcased a high resolution of technical knowledge and understanding of doing business in emerging markets. We look forward to seeing these ideas materialise.”

Support for startups

Ascendas-Singbridge is a supporter of advancing the roles that startups play in the innovation landscape, and this includes nurturing female-focused startups to encourage more women to participate in the startup landscape.

Mrs Nina Yang, Chief Operating Officer of Singbridge, a member of Ascendas-Singbridge Group, said: "As Asia’s leading provider of sustainable urban and business space solutions, Ascendas-Singbridge looks to foster a strong entrepreneurial spirit within the communities that it operates in. We are pleased to see the competition host a Singapore round for the first time this year. The startup scene in Singapore is constantly abuzz with new talent, technologies and innovations. The
competition gives us an opportunity to help aspiring entrepreneurs turn creative and disruptive ideas into enduring, real-world solutions today.”

Mrs Yang added: “Aside from being the title sponsor for Ascendas-Singbridge Her Startup 2016, the Group has embarked on other initiatives this year to ensure that it stays ahead of the market as Singapore continues its technopreneurship push to develop local innovations and global champions. We established a Deep Technology Hub at Singapore Science Park I to test bed a co-working space model catering to the startups and growth-stage companies.

"We also successfully formed AIRmaker, an accelerator that supports the development of startups seeking to grow and develop in Asia, which will enhance our relevance to the developing startup ecosystems in the region.”

Competition rounds for Ascendas-Singbridge Her Startup 2016 are being held across China, the US, Singapore and Vietnam from 27 May to 24 June. A total of 15 finalist teams from four countries will have the opportunity to travel to the US to participate in the global finals held in Silicon Valley. Finalists will also receive a US$5,000 scholarship to attend Draper University's one-year MBA programme, as well as the opportunity to participate in an immersive week-long experience which includes a two-day entrepreneurship growth hacking bootcamp and two days of visits to leading technology companies, incubators, and accelerators.

All 15 finalist teams pitching at the Silicon Valley final will receive mentorship, funding and media opportunities from experts, investors, CEOs and like-minded entrepreneurs.


Key competition dates:

27 May Beijing Round
28 May Hangzhou Round
29 May Chengdu Round
4 June Guangzhou Round
5 June Shenzhen Round
18 June China Final in Beijing
11 June Vietnam Round
14 June Singapore Round
22 June New York Round
23 June Los Angeles Round
24 June San Francisco Round
20 July Global Final in Silicon Valley

Read the TechTrade Asia blog post about the Guangzhou leg of the competition
Read the TechTrade Asia blog post about Vanitee's funding
Read the WorkSmart Asia blog post about Ascendas OneHub Guangzhou Knowledge City

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