How gojek and Bukalapak found the initial spark that turned them into giants; Product validation is an important step in knowing whether a startup idea can succeed; Bukalapak founder Achmad Zaky believes that no business can grow by targeting the entire market at once from the get-go; Instead, the ideal segment to start with is the one that’s most profitable. More here

Traveloka prepares to list via SPAC in the US this year; The Indonesian travel giant has engaged JPMorgan Chase as plans to go public accelerate amid the capital influx into the stock market; Traveloka is said to be valued at close to US$6bn; The company joins a growing list of Indonesian startups seeking to list in the US through SPACs. More here

Clubhouse: Hype-fuelled gimmick or the future of events and podcasting?; People describe it over the last few days as ‘TikTok for grown-ups’, ‘a never-ending Zoom webinar of blah’, ‘what Substack should be’, ‘a one-feature app’ and ‘the first social network in more than a decade that feels different’; In truth, Clubhouse is probably a mix of all those things. More here

Business group touts ‘single market’ plan for South-east Asian e-commerce industry; Simplified customs procedures for low-value goods, a regional locker network open to logistics players, and even a pilot for land-based cross-border trucking were among the proposals for a potential integrated ecosystem. More here

India, SEA-focused VC Avatar Ventures raises US$100mn in final close of new fund; Avataar focuses on B2B and SaaS growth-stage startups; It invests between US$10mn and US$30mn in startups that have a annual recurring revenue of at least US$15mn. More here

How Loship gives Grab, gojek a run for its money in Vietnam with a unique combination of food delivery and podcasting; It enables customers to listen to multiple podcasts while waiting for their food delivery; In 2019, it closed its Series B round from Smilegate Investment; Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn’s MetaPlanet recently invested in Loship. More here

Singapore budget 2021: Increased support for deeptech, enhanced venture debt programme announced for startups; 500 fellowships will be launched under the National Research Foundation to improve deeptech expertise in areas including cybersecurity, AI and healthtech. More here

Vietnamese nanotech firm Wakamono looks to raise US$20mn for expansion; The potential investment is expected to support its plans to spin off its medical wear, food and agriculture, and cosmetic production businesses into separate entities; The firm is currently focussed on producing antimicrobial masks and medical protective gear. More here

Indonesian early-stage VC firm SALT Ventures begins raising US$20mn fund II; The firm focuses on companies in the creative industry (asset-light, tech, or tech-enabled); The primary focus will be B2C; SALT’s Fund I was closed last year and backed 14 pre-seed, seed-stage firms. More here

TRIVE Ventures launches US$2mn venture philanthropy fund to support cash-strapped founders in Singapore; The fund will issue financial support of up to US$75K to each successful applicant in the form of a redeemable SAFE Note; It seeks to support up to 10 founders in the next 12 months, with plans to support more should demand increase. More here

Thai insurtech startup AppMan raises US$4.6mn; Investors include Siam Alpha Equity, Krungsri Finnovate, Casmatt, KTBST Group, POEMS Ventures; AppMan aims to enable insurers to mobilise their sales agents digitally and shift from paper-based work to an automated process; It also has offices in Vietnam and Indonesia. More here

Thai govt. warns to punish citizens who criticise the monarchy using Clubhouse; A large number of Thais joined Clubhouse in recent days after prominent Japan-based critic of the Thai palace joined on Friday and started discussing the monarchy; The government regularly uses a cyber crime law to prosecute critics of the monarchy on national security grounds. More here

Temasek, Vickers join Canadian geothermal tech firm Eavor’s US$40mn funding round; It offer Eavor-Loop, a tech that extracts the natural heat of the earth similar to a rechargeable battery in order to provide a consistent energy source for homes. More here

Shopee expands logistics services in Malaysia to offer next-day delivery; The e-commerce giant introducing 10 new Shopee Xpress drop-off points in the country; It also partnered with Parcelhub and MBE Malaysia to bring the total number of drop-off points nationwide to over 300. More here

Grab partners with UniPin, Yummy Corp to expand payments and F&B services in Indonesia; UniPin is a payment solutions platform for online games which allows gamers to top up their digital wallets through the ride-hailing giant’s platform; Grab seeks to allow F&B merchants to access Yummy Corp’s network of 80 cloud kitchens across Indonesia to launch virtual restaurants. More here

Meet the 2 SEA startups joining Allens’s legaltech accelerator; They are inPact.ai, an enterprise software platform that turns contracts into structured and analysable data to uncover new business insights; and Avvoka, a startup implementing document automation, negotiation and analytics tools for in-house legal, law firms and business teams. More here

This startup by an Indonesian farmer produces ‘leather’ used in shoes and wallets without killing a single animal; MYCL cultivates mycelia (a type of fungus) along with sawdust to make a substitute for animal-based leather; The whole process consumes far less water than traditional animal-based leather making process. More here

The world of proptech and its fate in a post-pandemic world; Many real estate professionals use tech like virtual viewings and live walk-through videos to make tenants feel like they are visiting the property without setting the foot inside the space. More here

US-based Pinoy lending startup Plentina taps 7-Eleven for BNPL online grocery; Customers can avail CLiQQ Wallet Credits from the Plentina app on a loan and pay back 14 days later; CLiQQ Wallet Credits can be spent in 7-Eleven stores and at CLiQQgrocery.com, the convenience store’s newly launched online grocery. More here

APAC improves in digital civility during pandemic: Microsoft; Singapore and Taiwan sit among the top five globally with the most favourable Digital Civility Index (DCI) scores, taking the fourth and fifth spots respectively; Indonesia and Malaysia reported least favourable DCI scores. More here

A bright future ahead: How SEA’s tech startups are faring; Though global events predicted otherwise, 2020 has been a good year for tech startups in Southeast Asia; The region has seen continued economic growth and VC investment due to its fast recovery time; The region is a burgeoning market that has seen increased interest from investors during 2020. More here

The Philippines announces 3rd digital entrepreneur assistance programme; ‘Kapatid Mentor Me’ aims to assist MSMEs to scale up and sustain their businesses through weekly coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship; It’s already been launched in 15 regions and has assisted over 2K farmers and almost 500 associations and cooperatives since 2017. More here

Cloud tech vital in meeting local firms’ needs amidst pandemic; As per NTT’s 2021 Hybrid Cloud Report, the pandemic has forced 93.8% of Singapore businesses to rely on tech more than they did before, but the crisis has also highlighted what firms lack in terms of cloud infra, security and network architecture capabilities, therefore driving digital innovation on these businesses’ end. More here

The GoBear shutdown and other fintech trends in SEA; In general, fintech startups have escaped the wrath of the pandemic’s rage against the economy with many flourishing thanks to consumers wishing to conduct their financial affairs from home; Many governments in the region are encouraging this digital growth through support and incentives for those wishing to develop fintech products. More here

Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) focuses on game service providers; As part of its support of the game industry, the agency and Thai Game Software Industry Association will formally roll out the Depa Game Accelerator Programme on 2 March 2021 at Thailand E-Sports Arena in Street Ratchada. More here


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