Asia’s small companies and startups are indeed on the rise, even amidst the struggles brought by the pandemic. The number of startups getting launched or securing funds grows by the day, driving the region’s economy forward. While Asia was considerably a late bloomer in growing its startup ecosystem, it was described by many experts as “last mover advantage”, having learned from both successes and failures of others.
In its inaugural Forbes Asia 100 to Watch list, the business magazine named 100 of the most promising startups in the Asia Pacific which managed to grow in the past year. Their inclusion in the list comes in part from addressing problems such as improving transportation in congested cities, expanding affordable connectivity in remote regions and preventing food waste.
To select the “100 to Watch”, Forbes Asia solicited online submissions, and invited accelerators, incubators, venture capitalists and others sto nominate companies. The final 100 was selected from over 900 nominations.
“Our team evaluated each submission, looking at metrics such as a positive impact on the region or industry, a track record of strong revenue growth or ability to attract funding, promising business models or markets, and a persuasive story,” reported Forbes Asia.
Vietnam, which has emerged in recent years as a regional startup hub in Southeast Asia, has four of its booming startups included in the list. All four are technology-driven, centered on logistics, property and healthcare, and are funded by foreign investors.
Real estate platform Hoozing operates as an online marketplace where people can find and rent accommodations. The app, launched in 2015 by Hai Le, provides user reviews, price calculation tools, and digital payment options to speed up property leasing and sales.
With its aim to digitize Vietnam’s traditional property sector, Hoozing offers smart features such as 3D viewing of properties and market data analysis. It connects landlords and customers to find the right deals, with over 50,000 property options and 7,000 agents within its ecosystem.
Despite the pandemic and the ever-changing situation in Vietnam’s property market, Hoozing earned about $1.1 million in revenue in 2020, and will become profitable by year-end with $2 million in revenue, writes Forbes Asia.
In the second quarter last year, Hoozing secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Smilegate Investment, a South Korean venture fund. Before that, the company was backed by Expara Ventures. The startup gained more popularity when Hai Le joined Shark Tank Vietnam in 2018, with the hopes of raising nearly 7 billion VND in exchange for 10% of shares. He later turned down the Sharks' proposed deal.
Established in 2017 by Trung Hoang Nguyen, Lozi has taken on giant rivals in Vietnam’s delivery sector such as GoTo and Grab, with its fast and convenient service —they deliver in just one hour, guaranteed.
Riding on the country’s booming e-commerce industry, Lozi connects millions of buyers and sellers to cater to the growing demand for online shopping. Made by Vietnamese for Vietnamese, Loship, the company’s delivery platform, offers a wide range of services including food delivery (Loship), grocery delivery (Lomart), ride-hailing (Loxe), medicine delivery (Lomed), laundry service (Lozat), package delivery (Lo-send), flower delivery (Lohoa), cosmetics & beauty products delivery (LoBeauty) and B2B supply delivery (Losupply).
According to its LinkedIn profile, Loship now has a fleet of more than 70,000 drivers and 200,000 merchants serving almost two million customers across Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Can Tho.
Just recently, the company announced it has secured a total of $12 million in a pre-Series C round of equity financing co-led by BAce Capital. The co-investors are MetaPlanet Holdings (Skype co-founder-backed VC firm in Estonia), Wealth Well (Saudi Arabia), Prism Ventures (Singapore), and SQ Capital Group (Hong Kong). A slew of individual investors also participated. In February this year, Loship was also able to raise an undisclosed amount from a funding round led by MetaPlanet.
The company said it will use the new capital to deepen its presence in key markets, expand the business into new regions, and fuel its latest growth area - the B2B delivery offering for small food and beverage businesses and mom-and-pop shops.
“We have a very clear path to profitability as well as strategic plans on how to get there. Next on our agenda is to bring Loship services to customers living in all parts of Vietnam, especially the lower-tier markets. We will also use the funding to drive forward instant commerce delivery in under an hour,” said CEO Trung Hoang Nguyen in a press release.
A “technology solution to help businesses directly connect with the network of transport partners nationwide”, Logivan joined Vietnam’s growing transportation and logistics sector in 2017. The $7.9-million venture-funded startup considers itself as the answer to the country’s fragmented highway transpo network, allowing companies to quickly locate and hire truck drivers who might otherwise return with empty trunks.
The company, led by Linh Pham, has more than 60,000 drivers working for the likes of Coca-Cola, Olam and Wilmar. The company’s mission is to digitize the trucking industry, provide a high-quality automatic truck matching system and thus help to save logistics costs for all Vietnamese businesses. Its business model has helped truck owners to increase their income by up to 30%.
In March 2018, Logivan won UberExchange startup contest, and was the only startup to win a ticket to Silicon Valley and receive direct advice from UBER’s global CTO Thuan Pham. A month later, it successfully raised $600,000 from Insignia Ventures Partners investment fund, which it used to expand its operations in Ho Chi Minh City and other major economic centers in Vietnam. It then raised an additional $1.75 million in Series A led by Ethos Partners, Insignia and VinaCapital Ventures. In 2019, Alpha JWC and several other Asian investors poured in a total of $5.5 million to the company for data analysis and integration and further expansion of its transport partners.
Logivan’s CEO and founder Linh was included in Forbes Asia’s 30 under 30 last year.
Offline-to-online healthcare startup Med247, provides round-the-clock care through technology-driven services on its app to full-service clinics. Founded in 2019 by Tuan Truong, the company offers holistic healthcare experience, enabling patients to book for no-wait appointment with their preferred doctor at the chain clinics. It also offers 24/7 telemedicine (including doctor consultation through chat or video call), delivery of prescriptions, electronic health record, as well as medication reminder. All in-person clinic visits and online activities are synchronized with automation through the platform.
Med247’s vision is to leverage technological advantages to develop an ecosystem of product and services that transcends urgent care into primary care and wellbeing, building a healthier Vietnam, as stated on its LinkedIn profile.
The platform’s clinic management system and doctors/patients app are specifically developed in-house to ensure optimal security and personal data protection, it adds.
And as a worsening outbreak hits most of Vietnam, Med247 has also strengthened its Mental Health Helpline.
“We are not closing our physical clinics during the pandemic. We use a rigid screening test for the incoming patients. Currently, there are over 30 doctors on our platform, while we currently handle around 400 consultations per day,” Thao Nguyen, Med247’s chief growth officer, told KrASIA.
Med247 has over 38,000 active users on its platform, and has recorded a 30% to 50% month-on-month increase in business volumen since January 2020, according to KrASIA.
It is backed by Singapore’sKK Fund, Indonesia’s Venturra Capital and other angel investors.