Modern society’s basic needs: Early Stage

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

By

Modern society’s basic needs: Early Stage

In this week’s entry for “Early Stage,” we visit startups in Myanmar, Singapore, and Vietnam that offer necessary services.

Kargo, Myanmar’s first logistics and supply chain startup, and a member of the first cohort of Yangon’s Phandeeyar startup accelerator—not to be confused with Kargo Technologies in Indonesia—became the first company in the country to received unsecured financing in a loan of USD 130,000 after this type of lending was approved by the Central Bank of Myanmar.

By default, the company has the country’s largest logistics network, which includes 2,000 drivers. Yangon changes fast—two visits mere months apart will yield observations of new businesses popping up along the city’s main roads. Kargo has a comfortable niche in Myanmar’s commercial center, so we hope to see them get even bigger, faster.

Over in Singapore, the B2B startup Zeemart, which has clients in the hotel, restaurant, and catering industries, managed to secure SGD 7 million (USD 5.2 million) in a seed round. Its software makes it easier for F&B businesses to manage procurement, invoices, and vendor collaborations. It already operates in its home base Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. With restaurants all over Southeast Asia charging ahead to handle incoming tourists and boosted foot traffic brought in by app-based listings, Zeemart is set to channel those funds toward expansions in the region.

Also in Singapore, a startup is meeting the lodging needs of foreign students. Oxfordcaps was founded in the city-state in 2017, and has already moved into India as well. The company works with existing properties, outfitting them with everything that a student might need. It also has a digital platform where residents can order laundry, meal, and housekeeping services, or check out listings for career development events and other activities. This week, Oxfordcaps announced that it has secured SGD 11 million (USD 8.1 million) in a Series A fundraising round. The company said it will be bringing more residences onboard in India, where it wants to be in more than 10 cities.

 

Gardens by the Bay, illuminated at night, Singapore. Via 东方IC.

Northward, in Hanoi, another startup is also building its business by serving students. Student Life Care assists Vietnamese students who go overseas to study in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, or Singapore. In all, the company operates in 80 cities.

It offers single-order services as well as prepaid packages, and can ensure that one of their representatives—called “student heroes”—will pick up a newly arrived student at the airport, locate accommodation, show that client around campus, and answer any relevant questions. Other agencies in Vietnam commonly assist parents in figuring out school selection and matters related to tuition fees, so the founder of Student Life Care decided that he could start a business that handles the rest, giving parents peace of mind that their sons and daughters are in good hands. So far, Student Life Care has helped 2,000 students since its founding in 2016.

“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.