New launches, big wins: Early Stage

New contestants in the startup arena from Singapore to the Philippines.

Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash

For this week’s “Early Stage,” we look at firms from Southeast Asia that are offering new services or scored big wins in the past week.

Why buy when you can rent? In Singapore, MyRent, which calls itself the city-state’s “first peer-to-peer on-demand rental marketplace,” (Wait, what?) went live on Thursday. The idea is simple: if you have a consumer product that you think someone else might want to use for a day or longer, you can rent it to them and make a few bucks. MyRent’s website lists a Canon EOS 550D camera body (plus lens) for SGD 5 a day, a GoPro Hero 5 with a gimbal for SGD 15 a day, as well as Lego sets, musical instruments, and various pieces of clothing. One thing’s for sure: the sharing economy upends a lot of conventional wisdom.

Online education seems like all the rage now. There’s plenty of reasons for that—the convenience, the low cost, the customization. And who would know better what students need than students themselves? Singapore-based Cudy bills itself as an edutech startup founded by two university students in 2017, after one of the company’s founders got tired of spending hours schlepping across town every weekend, from one tuition center to another. Cudy matches students with educators, and furnish them virtual classrooms. This week, the company announced that it secured six-figure seed funding from undisclosed parties. Singapore’s students will have yet another platform to replace their tutors—if they don’t mind talking to a screen.

A Philippine fintech startup, PearlPay, became the first firm to partner with a rural bank in the country and offer cloud-based technologies to the financial institution. The company signed an agreement with Dagupan-headquartered BHF Rural Bank to implement a pilot program that will bring e-money applications to an area where customers have limited internet access. Looking beyond its home country, PearlPay also has plans to launch money remittance services in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and the United States.

At this year’s Startup World Cup held in San Francisco, Vietnamese AI supply chain optimization startup Abivin—the only Southeast Asian company to make it to the final round—took the first prize home. The firm was awarded USD 1 million. Abivin uses artificial intelligence to streamline transportation management by creating optimized routes, keeping track of inventory, and tracking supplies. Its winnings will go straight back into R&D, and also be put toward its new entries into Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Myanmar.

“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.