With SaaS eating the world its time to make sure you know what the market opportunities are and how, if you’re a SaaS startup, to up your game.
SaaStock is a huge European conference that is kicking off their first Asia conference right here in Hong Kong – and so we wanted to make sure you all knew about it and had a chance to get involved.
We sat down with founder and CEO Alex Theuma to get a little more insight into his conference and why you should go.
Hi Alex, tell us about about yourself:
Hi StartupsHK, I’m the Founder and CEO of SaaStock. In 2015, while working in SaaS sales, I decided to start a blog and podcast that would help SaaS founders and execs to grow their businesses. I began by interviewing key influencers in the SaaS space, hosting SaaS meetups, and building relationships that would later be crucial when he launched the first SaaStock conference in Dublin in 2016.
What is SaaStock?
SaaStock is a global community of SaaS founders, execs, and investors. Now in its fourth year, our flagship conference is the largest SaaS gathering in Europe with 4,000 attendees over 3 days. In May 2019 we are bringing this experience to Hong Kong with the first edition of SaaStock Asia.
Who should attend and why?
SaaStock Asia is designed specifically for SaaS founders, execs, and investors. It brings an unprecedented line-up of some of the brightest minds in SaaS in order to deliver focused learning, actionable insights, and highly-relevant networking. The agenda will focus on scaling a SaaS business in Asia and overcoming the unique challenges that the Asian market faces. Some of the most successful Asian SaaS companies, as well as global companies who have successfully entered the Asian market, will provide the playbook on how to take advantage of the huge SaaS market opportunity in the region.
Who are some of the speakers and activities around SaaStock in HK?
SaaStock Asia kicks off with a full day of hands-on workshops as part of SaaS.City on May 14. These workshops cover topics such as Sales Leadership delivered by Patrick Cai, Managing Director, China at Winning By Design, and Growth Marketing delivered by Eric Siu, CEO, ClickFlow, and Meena Sandhu, VP of Marketing & Growth at Predictable Revenue.
Also kicking off on May 14 is the Startup Program. This is an opportunity for SaaS startups to partner with SaaStock Asia at a much more accessible price, with additional benefits and perks. Qualifying startups amplify their visibility by getting similar benefits as our partners, complemented by a tailored day of practical workshops, matchmaking with investors, and further support from SaaStock’s partners. Applications close on May 3.
This is followed by the full conference day on May 15 with speakers such as:
Pieter Kemps, Principal, Sequoia Capital
Anna Gong, CEO & Founder, Perx Technologies
Patrick Cai, Managing Director, China, Winning By Design
Dave Ng, Principal, B Capital
James Gilbert, APAC Director, HubSpot
Vinod Chandramouli, Global Head, Pre Sales, Freshworks
Cameron Priest, CEO & Co-Founder, TradeGecko
Nathan Latka, CEO, The Latka Agency
Jeffrey Paine, Managing Director, Golden Gate Ventures
Hande Çilingir, Co-Founder & CEO, Insider
The full speakers list is available here and full agenda here.
The main conference day will also include a SaaS exhibition with exhibitors including Akkroo, Blueprint, Centi, Chargebee, FE International, PayMe from HSBC, Leaseweb, Tencent WeStart, and Zendesk.
Finally, on May 15-16, SaaSociety gathers a curated audience of entrepreneurs who have achieved annual recurring revenue exceeding $3M for a founders-only retreat in luxurious surroundings. This offers a unique opportunity for founders of scaling SaaS businesses to connect and share.
What are some observations about the SaaS market in Asia?
In order to grow a SaaS business in Asia, entrepreneurs need to figure out not only how to secure funding, but how to overcome the many challenges of operating in a fragmented market: tackling local regulation, how to deploy a lean sales ‘machine’ across a diverse region, navigating different languages and payment methods, and getting buy-in from enterprise organization not accustomed to buying from startups.
The relative immaturity and rate of adoption of SaaS in Asia represents a huge opportunity for Asian SaaS startups, as well as for global SaaS vendors aiming to expand into the region. Where the competitive landscape in other parts of the world is incredibly crowded, there is still so much untapped opportunity here in the Asian market.
Asian SaaS companies face very different challenges to those faced by their western counterparts, and this creates a need for a dedicated space for SaaS companies in the region to come together and learn from the successes and failures of others who are on the same path. That’s what SaaStock Asia is all about.
All the details – location, time and link to buy tickets:
It’s coming again – RISE – the conference to end all tech conferences is coming back for its FIFTH year in Hong Kong and the excitement is already growing as we are ready to welcome 18,000+ attendees from around the world to our fair city to talk and showcase tech.
But how can you, dear reader get more involved with the conference itself? We’ve put together this handy list so that you can filter through all the messages.
If you haven’t got your booth yet you can apply for one here. Its more than just a stand, you get to register for Office Hours with mentors and investors and your company will have a chance to selected for the PITCH Competition
Be involved with the investor community, via Venture – a VC-only conference-in-a-conference, meet other investors, LPs and of course startups. Apply here.
Free tickets for you if you link your GitHub account here.
We are always looking for startup founders who are also good at talking about Hong Kong while leading other startup founders around the RISE Pub Crawl need to apply here.
For HK-based tech organizations that want to host a Community Event
If you are a tech organization like us and feature a specific vertical then please email us your idea of a tech meet-up and where you would host it.
If you want to get first hand experience on how RISE works, look to join as a volunteer – its a great mix of students and working professionals that want to get more hands-on.
That’s about it – we will be announcing more stuff as RISE lets us know and you can see the amazing line-up of speakers here and know that Startup Ferry, Startup Hike and Startup Trail-Run will all be part of the Community Events this year.
Klook announced it has raised US$225M in Series D+ funding. This increases the company’s total Series D funding round to US$425M. The SoftBank Vision Fund led the round with participation from existing investors, including Sequoia China, Matrix Partners, TCV, and OurCrowd. This represents the largest financing in the global travel activities and services industry.
In just four years, Klook has become the most searched travel activities and services company on Google. In the last year, the Hong Kong-based company expanded its global footprint into Australia, Europe and the United States to deliver new, unique and exciting consumer experiences. Klook also entered into major global partnerships with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Asia Pacific’s leading luxury hotel group; and Rail Europe, a leading distributor of European rail products that represents more than 50 railroads throughout Europe.
With the additional funding, Klook will scale its operations into new geographies and continue to expand in its existing Asian markets. For example, Japan is one of Klook’s most important markets and is also the headquarters of SoftBank Group. The company plans to deepen its investments ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and will expand into additional Japanese cities to better serve both inbound and outbound visitors.
“Our vision is to bring the world closer together by connecting the best of what a destination has to offer with travelers from all over the globe,” said Ethan Lin, CEO and Co-Founder of Klook.
“This latest investment is a true testament to the progress made by the Klook team in building the world’s Number 1 Super App for all in-destination needs,” added Eric Gnock Fah, COO and Co-Founder of Klook.
Klook continues to see success in its mobile-first strategy. In 2018, trip bookings on mobile devices tripled and accounted for over 75% of total bookings. Coupled with an accelerated expansion plan to grow its global footprint and service offerings, the company is expected to maintain its strong momentum with triple-digit growth in bookings.
“We believe Klook is a leader in taking a mobile-first approach to the travel activities and services industry,” said Lydia Jett, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “The company has seen great success in scaling its business across different geographies and cultures, and we are excited to help them drive further innovation in the global travel industry.”
WHub’s FinTech Whitepaper presents the key findings and facts as well as a comprehensive analysis of the contributing factors in the ecosystem that have solidified Hong Kong’s position as a leading global Financial Hub and its evolution into a competitive FinTech Hub.
Such contributing factors include the strength of its financial sectors, a strong talent pool, Hong Kong’s position as a gateway to regional and Mainland China markets, the regulatory framework, as well as many other variables. Hong Kong has seen extensive activity in its startup ecosystem with an estimated 3,000+ startups.
Specifically, the city now boasts the evolution of 4 homegrown FinTech Unicorns:
AirWallex (raised US$202 million)
BITmex (trading history of over US$34 billion worth of Bitcoin since its launch)
The TNG FinTech Group (raised US$115 million in Series A, the largest series A investment for a FinTech company)
WeLab (raised US$425 million).
The Whitepaper also offers readers an in-depth look at the various Fintech sectors and their underlying technologies and applications within the market. The Whitepaper also features a comprehensive FinTech map that illustrates and categorises 290 HK FinTech startups according to their relative sectors (WealthTech, Payments, RegTech, Cryptocurrency, Insurtech and Others).
The roots of Hong Kong’s active FinTech sector are not only found in the city’s supportive ecosystem but the HKSAR Government has also been gearing up for the evolution of the FinTech era. In this regard, on September 12, 2018, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Ms Carrie Lam mentioned “FinTech is a key technology area to focus on and invest in”. The Whitepaper outlines the various Government programs, regulations and policies that have been guiding these government initiatives to further develop Hong Kong as a sustainable and powerful FinTech Hub.
In addition to government initiatives, the Whitepaper presents the dynamic FinTech synergies that are unfolding with corporates, startups and incumbents in various financial and technological sectors. These parties have a symbiotic relationship and their various sets of competitive advantages and challenges create win-win collaborations and partnerships in the dynamic FinTech arena. Similarly, startups are also strongly supported by community builders that unite together with startups to drive the FinTech ecosystem. Accordingly, as this is an integral part of the development of a startup, WHub’s Whitepaper contains an extensive list of community builders (entrepreneurs, industry experts and investors).
Thanks Paul Chan! For the first time since we started StartupsHK, the Hong Kong government is really coming up with the cash to support our ecosystem.
Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan delivered his third Budget Speech yesterday with a raft of new monetary sweeteners aimed at promoting the city’s innovation and technology development. We refuse to call it “I.T.” – lets just call it “tech!”
$5.5 billion for the development of Cyberport 5 to accommodate more technology companies and startups. The expansion project is expected to provide about 66,000 sqm of floor area, and include facilities such as offices, co-working space, conference venues and data service platforms.
The budget raises the maximum annual funding under the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities from the existing HK$4 million to HK$8 million—for each university—starting from 2019-20 to better nurture university start-ups.
The Corporate Venture Fund (CVF), which co-invests on a matching basis with angel investors or venture capital funds in tenants and incubatees of the Science Park, will be expanded to HK$200 million.
Allocating not less than HK$800 million in the coming five years to support more research and development work, and the realization of R&D results by universities, key laboratories and engineering research centers.
Last year, Chan has already earmarked HK$10 billion into the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) schemes, particularly for the establishment of two innovative clusters in the Science Park, namely “Health@InnoHK” focusing on healthcare technologies and “AIR@InnoHK” focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies.
Chan is adding more cache into the HK$20 billion injected into the Research Endowment Fund of the Research Grants Council under the University Grants Committee (UGC), which was announced in the last Policy Address.
The budget also proposes increasing the monthly allowance for researchers to a maximum of HK$21,000 under the Researcher Programme and extends from two to three years the funding period under the Researcher Programme and the Postdoctoral Hub Programme.
HKSTPC is constructing an InnoCell, which will offer about 500 residential units with flexible design to tenants, incubatees or visiting researchers in the Science Park. This project is expected to be completed by 2021.
Inject HK$2 billion into the ITF for launching a Re‑industrialization Funding Scheme to subsidize manufacturers on a matching basis to help them set up smart production lines in Hong Kong
Earmarked HK$500 million to implement the IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools Programme in the coming three school years.
Earmarked HK$150 million to support the development and initial operation of an online arbitration and mediation platform by non-governmental organizations to enhance Hong Kong’s role as an international hub for legal services.
Allocation of HK$120 million to extend the public EV charging networks at government car parks.
Setting up an Academy of Finance in mid-2019 to groom financial talent.
Promoting the use of the Faster Payment System for payment of government fees and charges!!! Haha, snuck that in at the end, Paul!
Startup Launchpad is back and this time we sat down with Minesh Pore the Head of Startup Launchpad to give us the tour of this April’s event at Asia World Expo.
Mishesh, tell us about yourself?
Thanks StartupsHK! I’m a highly regarded global trade expert with over 18 years’ experience leading multinational organizations in corporate transformation, Intra-prenuership, Innovation, International business development, and strategic planning. I would say I am a well-connected and respected globally for my experience, network and knowledge of the Greater Bay area startup ecosystem, mentoring startup founders, helping startups scale up and expand international.
What is Startup Launchpad?
Startup Launchpad is hosted in HK every April and October, the show focusses on helping Hardware and Retail Solutions startups scale up by meeting buyers / retailers / wholesalers from over 140 counties. We will also be hosting a 1 day conference, the focus is on Blockchain as a Transparency took for Supply Chain. We will have 2 day workshops, focus of which is to educate startup founders on every step from Initiating a business plan to working with distributors globally. We will also have pitches from the top 10 Startups that will be pitching for over 500,000 HKD in prizes.
Why should startups attend?
Startups who want to sell their products and solutions should attend the Tradeshows. Startup ecosystem players who want to connect with others in blockchain for supply chain sector and learn what is the latest trends in this arena should attend the conference. All who have considered starting a startup or are at any stage of their startup journey should attend the workshops. Also come listen to the pitch competition winners, who this time come from HK, China, India, Austria and Spain.
What are some of the standout events we should look out for?
Must-Sees at the show will be:
Showcases by AR/ VR Game Demos by Ubisoft and Ninebot will display and demo the latest in eVehicle technology
200 Starups from Austria, India, Spain, China, Taiwan, US, Singapore and HK all showcasing various iot products, connected devices, eVehicles, Health tech Devices, edu tech, AR / VR products and retail solutions
Conference: Future of Retail – SCM Innovation [19 April, 2019 – Hall 2 Asia World Expo, Hong Kong]
The conference will be talking about potentials in automating the complicated supply chain management, using tech innovations such as blockchain. Insights will be shared by industry’s top practitioners. Also, we will be discussing the investment outlook in the new retail sector. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-april-startup-launchpad-conference-future-of-retail-tickets-53989745783
Workshop: START. MAKE. SELL! Workshop Series for Startups [20 & 21 April, 2019 – Hall 2 Asia World Expo, Hong Kong]
The workshops are designed for early stage startups, entrepreneurs or anyone thinking about hardware projects. The workshop will guide the participant thru the right way to start their business in the greater bay area (finding right partners, incubation program and leveraging free trade zone advantages), tips and advises in prototyping and making the product, and finally how to validate, market and sell the product. Get your tickets here.
Awesome, sounds great – thanks for your time Minesh!
The idea for this is to start more dialogue between the UX community and the startup community and StartupsHK co-founders Casey Lau and Gene Soo are coming out for this one alongside the IXDA and UXD.
So in light of the Startmeup Festival next week across Hong Kong we thought we’d contribute this awesome event to get startups discussing this important concept – its free at Garage Society and all you have to do is REGISTER HERE.
Animoca Brands has entered into an Earn-In Agreement with Zeroth founder Tak Lo to acquire a 67% stake in Venture Classic Limited, the operational company for the artificial intelligence accelerator Zeroth SPC (both companies together: “Zeroth”). Total consideration for the transaction is approximately US$1.08 million (A$1.5 million), consisting of US$0.72 million (A$1 million) in cash earn-in and approximately US$0.36 million (A$0.5 million) in Animoca Brands shares.
Additionally, Animoca Brands has committed to underwrite investment into Zeroth SPC totalling up US$2 million. This investment will provide participants with Limited Partner status and grant them claims on proceeds from the cohorts of AI and blockchain startups accelerated by Zeroth.
Separately, Sun Hung Kai & Co, a leading investment firm based in Hong Kong, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a deeper strategic partnership with Zeroth SPC. This partnership may include direct investments and further potential investment into Zeroth SPC or its segregated portfolios. Sun Hung Kai & Co previously invested in Animoca Brands.
Zeroth is the first accelerator in the world to focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Zeroth was founded by Tak Lo, previously a director at Techstars, the prominent US-based technology accelerator program. Zeroth invests in high-potential start-ups and provides operational, strategic, and networking support to investee companies as they develop their businesses. Separately from its acceleration programme, Zeroth has made a number of investments in blockchain-focused companies.
To date, Zeroth has accelerated three cohorts totalling 33 companies, obtaining an average 6% stake in each, and has made eight investments in companies focused on blockchain technology. Various of these companies went on to raise funding after graduating from the Zeroth acceleration programme, including from prominent venture capital firms Horizons Ventures (invested in Fano Labs, now Accosys), Mizuho Venture Capital (invested in Laboratik), Portag3 Ventures (invested in Planto), KB Investments (invested in Seoul Robotics), and Aeternity Ventures (invested in Utu).
FamFit, the spin-off of Animoca Brands that was later rebranded as OliveX, is a graduate of the Zeroth acceleration programme. The AI capabilities gained through the Zeroth program helped OliveX to win a US$0.55 million Hong Kong government grant to develop an AI exercise app, and led to OliveX establishing a commercial relationship with leading fitness blockchain company Lympo. Lympo went on to invest approximately US$0.36 million (A$0.5 million) in Animoca Brands and has committed to lead a future funding round into OliveX.
Animoca Brands expects that acquiring a stake in Zeroth will extend its capabilities and reputation in product acceleration, especially in the areas of AI and blockchain as well as corporate incubation; increase its visibility and exposure to relevant technologies; and contribute to the Company’s strategic development and growth as it advances further in the AI and blockchain ecosystems.
Yat Siu, co-founder and chairman of Animoca Brands, commented: “We were impressed by Zeroth’s rise to one of the most influential AI accelerators in Asia as well as a major investor in blockchain. As Animoca Brands continues to expand its AI and blockchain initiatives, Zeroth provides us with an excellent strategic match, invaluable resources, and access to high-potential ventures and technologies.”
Tak Lo, the founder of Zeroth, commented: “I am very excited at the chance to work with Animoca Brands to scale up Zeroth. We believe that AI will be the biggest force multiplier for technology companies in the next five years, and our trajectory is rapidly establishing Zeroth as one of the world’s most active AI investors. The strategic and managerial skillsets of Animoca Brands will greatly increase Zeroth’s operational discipline and development opportunities as we expand efforts in the AI and blockchain industries.”
Earlier this month on Thursday 2nd August 2018, Betatron held its Demo Day for the ten startups in cohort 3. The event was held at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with a total of 675 people registering for the event. During the event, each startup delivered a five-minute pitch showcasing their business and the traction they’ve been generating.
Sam Ameen – Betatron’s Director of Marketing commented, “We’re delighted to see the traction our ten startups have generated since they started cohort 3. It’s not surprising to see a significant amount of investor interest shown already for each team. It’s been exciting to see the Betatron program improving each cohort, with more investors, mentors, and experienced entrepreneurs joining our network to provide hands-on guidance and support for our startups. The plans for the next few cohorts are already underway, with the vision to take Betatron to the next level to support the Greater Bay Area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
3DNA helps you get the perfect pair of eyewear. Starting with a face scan, you collaborate with an optician to customise glasses at their interactive kiosk. Combining Retail 2.0 and digital manufacturing, 3DNA provides a vertically integrated solution for personalised eyewear. This allows them to deliver products that are one of a kind, perfect fitting, and emotionally connected to you. 3DNA launched at Vision Expo in March 2018 in New York. Since then, they have placed kiosks in 6 retail shops and booked over $85,000 in sales.
CryptAM is setting the professional asset management standards in the cryptocurrency asset class by providing investors with reliable and institutional-level access to the growing cryptocurrency market. CryptAM tackles this field as a Digital Asset management company, integrating traditional investment management standards into blockchain related assets, delivering superior index methodologies as licensor and managing investment funds with an aim to maximize upside returns while minimizing downside risks and a passive ETF strategy. They employ quantitative research via contemporary statistical analysis and A.I. machine learning processes to reveal market insights to drive value creation for investors.
Green Is The New Black is building the biggest community of conscious brands in fashion, lifestyle, beauty & F&B and consumers in Asia. Their aim is to make sustainability mainstream, sexy and accessible on a daily basis, for everyone. They do this through conscious festivals in Singapore and Hong Kong which has brought more than 10,000 people attendees together. And an online curated platform which includes media content and a directory of 80+ brands which are clients and members.
Oxpecker Labs is a deep biotech company that specializes in sensor technology. They have developed a smart hydration monitoring system that composes of a multi-sensor module with sweat sensor and advanced algorithm for dehydration and heat stress prevention. The patent-pending, non-invasive sweat sensor tracks electrolyte loss and provides actionable suggestions to recommending ideal fluid intake levels on an app. They have miniaturized the sensor to allow easy integration into different forms of wearables, such as patches, watches, glasses and safety helmets, etc. There are many commercial applications for their technology such as health, sports, and the construction industry. Oxpecker Labs has a team of 7 people with 4 PhDs. Combined, the team has over 80 years experience in sensing technology, manufacturing, patent application and business development.
PatentBot is a chatbot that helps register IP rights. It is multi-lingual, works 24/7, and now operates in the US and EU. During the last year, they’ve built a solution that covers 30 countries and has been reaching impressive milestones:
Sinotech Marine is an online platform which connects the shipping industry to shipping consultants around the world. Established by a team of senior maritime professionals, Sinotech Marine offers specialized independent technical consulting services globally to ship owners, buyers, shipping equity investors, banks (plus other financial Institutions), ship charterers, and operators. Since launching last year, the company has generated over US$150K in revenue and has a 100% repeat order rate from clients.
Tap Media owns and operates three of the largest, dedicated websites covering mixed martial arts in Asia, an industry of more than 200 million passionate fans from Japan to Indonesia, China, Singapore. For the past year, Tap Media has been on an aggressive growth path, acquiring two of the best MMA news websites in Hong Kong and Singapore, building out its senior management team and expanding its operations into. On 14 September Tap Media will launch the Asia MMA Awards in Hong Kong – a new initiative to bring the sport to another professional level.
Trademonk is an all-in-one, cloud-based platform that allows restaurants & bars to find and order wine, beer & spirits from suppliers in less than 5 minutes. Trusted and relied upon on by some of APAC’s F&B giants, Trademonk was built from the ground up help establishments of all sizes optimise and streamline their back-of-house operations.
Vfluencer is an influencer marketing platform which helps brands and agencies to identify and manage high-quality micro-influencers at scale. They use data analytics to benchmark and locate influencers and use A.I. to categorise and identify the most relevant ones. In essence, they turn influencers into a sales army for brands, which allow influencers to continuously generate revenue for brands. The team includes experienced entrepreneurs and A.I. and marketing experts. Since launching three months ago, the searching engine has already scrapped 220,000 influencers from Hong Kong, China, and Asia making US$30,000 monthly revenue.
Weesper is an HR Tech startup based on crowd-sourcing. Hiring companies receive quality referrals from a community of referrers who compete to source the best talents in the market in exchange for significant cash rewards. Cheaper than recruitment agencies and more effective than job boards, Weesper allows a peer to peer recommendation based on trust. Weesper believes in the human voice in the system, stating that good recruitment cannot be achieved by a machine, but through human screening, and yet, being innovative, cheaper and more efficient.
Exclusively launched at last week’s RISE conference in Hong Kong is the China Internet Report 2018.
China has twice as many internet users as the total population of the United States — and it’s growing fast. This unique collaboration between Abacus, 500 Startups, the South China Morning Post, will break down everything you need to know about China’s thriving tech industry, the big players in each field, and lay out the four overarching trends that have emerged.
The best thing about this? You can download it for free here.