Contributor posts

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This week, the SPAC hype lives on and our contributor provides a great analysis on whether it is here to stay. I am also delighted to bring more women voices from our community along with the story of this revolutionising poultry startup from the Philippines.

The hidden danger in SPACs. Is the hype worth the risk? by Rachel Lau of RHL Ventures

According to Goldman Sachs, SPAC IPOs have raised a total of US$78 billion across 244 transactions globally in 2020. This represents a remarkable five-fold increase from the year before.

Closer to home, Southeast Asia’s most valuable startup Grab is also set to list on the Nasdaq via SPAC Altimeter Growth Corp at an estimated valuation of US$40 billion.

The sudden boom in SPAC IPOs was more notable given the tepid IPO markets in the years leading up to the pandemic. Companies were trying to stay private longer as venture capital and private equity money was abundant. The rapid renewal of interest in public equity capital raises the question of whether “staying private for longer” will become history.

From women, for women

Check out this comprehensive list of 46 startup resources and opportunities for women by Amanda Tay

The share of VC dollars that flowed into startups founded by a woman or a group of women is only 2.7 per cent of the total investment in 2019.

Will we be able to work towards increasing that percentage in 2021?

With this list of resources, we hope that all women founders, innovators, and change-makers can step up to start building their dreams to help create a better world for all.

From competitions and initiatives to accelerators and incubators and female-focused investors, this list has resources catered for female founders at any stage of their startup idea!

What entrepreneurs can learn from Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open by Duckju Kang, CEO of ValueChampion

Many of us have seen the recent headlines featuring Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open due to her mental health condition. Osaka’s decision led to an outpour of support worldwide and even triggered The International Tennis Federation to review how tennis players and media interact during tournaments.

Mental health problems have been on the rise and those who work in fast-paced, high-stress environments such as startups can be at risk. Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open may reveal some surprising lessons that startup entrepreneurs can learn.

Today, more business leaders are aware that mental health impacts workplace productivity. As a startup work culture can be fast-paced, always prioritising business growth and moving the sales numbers upwards can lead to adverse effects on mental wellbeing.

Labour market talent crunch is an opportunity for women in STEM by Miriam Marichalar, Senior Valuer at John Foord

Although more women are pursuing degrees in STEM courses at Singapore universities, there is still a leaky pipeline of talent in related jobs, as noted in a recent study by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

In fact, only 58 per cent of women with STEM qualifications continued to work in related jobs after graduation compared with 70 per cent for men– a phenomenon that is true globally.

Data from UNESCO, meanwhile, showed that only 33 per cent of researchers are women though they represent 45 per cent of students at the Bachelor’s level of study.

The same study from NTU found that women leave STEM careers, not because of a lack of interest or confidence, but because they encounter barriers of diversity and inclusion.

Women often feel marginalised at work as their male counterparts are more likely to be employed and make career progress than they are.

Emerging trends in the startup world

How Manulife aims to make lives better and healthier in Asia through startup partnerships by Mark Van den Broek, CIO & COO, Manulife Asia

At Manulife, the pandemic hasn’t been a catalyst for change per se, because change was already underway, since we embarked on our digital transformation journey several years earlier—a strategy taken up with real zeal in Asia. But the pandemic has upped the ante to change faster. Manulife has responded by doing just that, fast-tracking digitisation efforts across the region.

More than C$700 million (US$579 million) has been invested in new digital capabilities globally since 2018. As a result, customers in almost all of Manulife’s Asia markets can now submit claims electronically, including on their smartphones, while agents can close deals virtually and through electronic point of sales systems with auto underwriting built-in.

To further accelerate that rapid pace of digitisation, we wanted to tap the very dynamic fintech, insurtech and healthtech community in Asia. So, in December 2020, Manulife linked up with Brinc, a global venture capital and accelerator firm, to launch Manulife BOOST, a programme that is essentially designed to identify established start-ups with which to collaborate and form meaningful partnerships.

How Iamus’ machine vision robot Gallus is optimising the poultry industry by Abhinav Mehra, VC @ID Capital

Six years ago Shane Kiernan cofounded a business in the Philippines that provides outsourced manpower solutions to the poultry industry – from cleaning poultry sheds to vaccinating baby chicks they did it all. In the course of this business they observed all the challenges and opportunities in poultry production and were particularly curious to understand the drivers behind the wide degree of variability seen in the performance of poultry growers.

One question stuck with Kiernan: why was it that the same tiny proportion of farmers typically outperformed their cohort despite having older equipment or buildings? Fortunately his curiosity carried him to a conversation with Manor Farm, the largest poultry processor in Ireland.

A series of meetings followed where my curiosity validated farm variability is a US$9 billion annual problem for the poultry industry– an industry where low margins and animal welfare pressures abound.

Pharma entrepreneur Thomas Miklavec shares his journey on expanding his startup across SEA by Co Tran, Communication Associate, FEBE Ventures

Featured in this episode is Thomas Miklavec, a serial French entrepreneur and founder of POC Pharma, a B2B service platform connecting the pharmaceutical world.

Before starting his career as a serial entrepreneur in emerging markets in the pharmacy space, Miklavec took some initiatives for NGO work during his undergraduate, working on HIV/AIDS programmes mostly in Africa. He supported companies to build plans, prevent and provide care and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients.

What does the evolution of IT in SMEs look like post-pandemic? by Bidhan Roy, managing director, Commercial & SMB in APJC

SMEs are looking at business expansion opportunities and are expecting to step up on hiring. With many businesses becoming digital-first today, the questions here are, how and where should SMEs focus their resources and efforts at this juncture?

The scramble we all experienced 15 months ago as we migrated to more agile, flexible work methodologies underlines just how important technology has become.

And it will only become more central to the way businesses are run as both big and small organisations put in place hybrid working solutions.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing contributions from the community. This season we are seeking op-eds, analysis and articles on food tech and sustainability. Share your opinion and earn a byline by submitting a post.

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