Behind the curtain: Early Stage

Across Southeast Asia, small ideas are turning into big operations.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Startups that were founded based on good ideas don’t always make a bang. Oftentimes, tech simplifies the convoluted processes that require loads of manpower but are unseen to most consumers. For this entry of “Early Stage,” we look at four companies that are building the guts of useful systems that many of us use.

This week, Indonesian startup PrivyID secured the right to access the data about the country’s population, such as ID numbers. This was done through a partnership with the Indonesian civil registration office, which is building a digital system to ensure that a basket of services is available to the public, and that’s where Privy ID comes in—the company will issue electronic signatures that are needed for the bureaucracy to function. PrivyID says it has 3.4 million users in Indonesia and aims to have 9 million by the end of this year. It is currently raising Series A funding.

Over in the Philippines, logistics startup Inteluck managed to raise USD 1 million from China-based VC firm Mingshi Capital. The SaaS platform has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a company of its kind—fleet and cargo management, fuel consumption monitoring, delivery data analytics, and the like. The company currently maintains a network of more than 1,000 small-scale logistics service providers and 12,000 trucks. It has over 100 medium- and large-sized enterprises as clients, and ships products across the Philippines.

Singapore’s Koku has secured USD 2 million in pre-Series A funding led by Tencent Holdings co-founder Jason Zeng Liqing. The company is exploring ways to use new technologies like artificial intelligence in its fintech services, and part of its new funds will be channeled toward product development. Originally founded to bring down costs in cash remittance, the company is aiming to go from a daily transaction volume of USD 10 million to USD 30 million.

Also in Singapore, a startup called mobilityX is attempting to make it easier to plot your journey in Singapore by releasing what it calls an all-on-one transportation app. Zipster includes the routes of Singapore’s MRT and public buses, and also allows users to book rides through Grab and Go-Jek without leaving the app. The docking stations for the bicycles of Anywheel and Neuron Mobility’s electric scooters are also mapped. The app is still in beta; if its integration functions well, it’ll be a boon for our smartphones.

“Early Stage” is a series where the writers of KrASIA highlight startups that caught our eye for the week, whether they achieved an important milestone, rolled out a truly innovative product or became embroiled in controversy.