Food, Fashion, Finance: Early Stage

KrASIA is keeping an eye on startups that are adapting to Southeast Asia’s evolving economies.

Credit: Bash Carlos via Unsplash. Credit: Bash Carlos via Unsplash.

Welcome to “Early Stage”, a new 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. Here are our picks from the past few days.

Shiok Meats, a Singapore startup that is developing cell-based crab and shrimp, became the first cell-based meat company to make it into the Y Combinator accelerator program. Those who champion lab-grown meats drive home these products’ significantly reduced impact on the environment, and Shiok’s acceptance into the Silicon Vallery seed accelerator is the latest testament that people are taking the field more seriously. Shiok already has a product—wrapped in dumpling skin—that it offers at public taste tests. In the future, the company plans to feed consumers in Singapore, Hong Kong, and India, blending the flavors that its founders know best.

Cambodia’s Groupin has benefitted from the largest ever fundraising round by a tech startup in the country. Co-founded by four siblings, the holding company operates in e-commerce and media. One of the firms in its portfolio is Little Fashion, one of the country’s first e-commerce platforms. On that note, with the United Nations Development Programme and an Alibaba-backed logistics provider pitching in to bolster Cambodia’s e-commerce sector, there’s plenty for vendors, entrepreneurs, and investors to be hopeful about.

Uber may have left Southeast Asia, but its imprint lingers. Indonesia’s Kargo Technologies managed to secure US$7.6 million from Uber founder Travis Kalanick’s investment fund as the firm refines its strategy to tackle problems in the country’s logistics sector. There’s plenty to be excited about here—from moving food from farms to distribution centres and markets, to handling shipments of online retailers, Kargo is equipping itself to handle what’s needed in Indonesia.

Over in the Philippines, Indonesian P2P student loan provider Dana Cita said it will launch in the country under the brand Bukas, which means “open” or “tomorrow” in Tagalog. The idea is to lend cash to students who are after a university degree or vocational diploma. At the moment, Dana Cita has clients in 18 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, and its co-founder Naga Tan said that it maintains a default rate of just 6%.

Indonesia’s startup scene is among the most dynamic in Southeast Asia, and things can move fast for successful firms in the country. Mobilkamu, whose name translates to “your car”, is an online platform for buying new automobiles. The firm just raised an undisclosed amount in a Series A led by East Ventures and Genesia Ventures. It says that 150 vehicles are sold and delivered through its platform every month, and it’s branching out to launch MotorKamu, a platform that sells motorcycles. With Grab and Go-Jek both offering lending schemes for their drivers, it’s now easier than ever to kick start a career in phone-based transportation.