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Project Alpha wants to boost early stage startups in Southeast Asia

Finalists laud the technical assistance and mentoring provided by the SeedPlus-AWS accelerator.

Product of a joint effort between Southeast Asian seed fund SeedPlus and US-based Amazon Web Services (AWS), Project Alpha is a startup accelerator that promises to “seek out and empower high-potential budding startups in Southeast Asia who dream of becoming the next breakout story.”

Currently in its third year, the three-month accelerator has produced a total of 12 startup finalists from six Southeast Asian countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines.

The 12 finalists each received the following:

  • Access to business and technical experts from AWS and SeedPlus
  • A USD 25,000 activate portfolio package from AWS
  • A USD 50,000 Segment team plan from Segment
  • A SGD 50,000 (USD 37,130) hyper-growth package from Stripe
  • Zero deposit plus heavily discounted package from Lanturn, a corporate services firm from Singapore.
  • Potential seed round funding from SeedPlus

KrASIA spoke to three of the 12 finalists concerning their experiences in Project Alpha, namely Singapore-based Volopay, Thailand-based Perception, and Malaysia-headquartered Craft La.

Volopay’s CEO Rajith Shaji (left) and CTO Rajesh Raikwar (right).

In a phone interview with KrASIA, Volopay co-founder and CEO Rajith Shaji said he and fellow co-founder and CTO Rajesh Raikwar were drawn to Project Alpha because they heard about the valuable mentoring opportunity provided by the accelerator. Volopay provides clients with artificial intelligence-powered expense management software solutions to manage employee expenses.

“They really have the know-how of what works and doesn’t work,” Rajith said of the accelerator, adding that the organizers helped his company to reach potential clients.

According to Rajesh, the startup greatly benefitted from AWS’s technical support in terms of setting up their base architecture, providing security know-how, and learn more about regulations in different countries.

“Being a finalist has helped us to raise our profile and gave us validation and recognition,” Rajith said. He added that the accelerator helped them sharpen their focus, develop an ideal customer profile and set a timeline for fundraising, among other benefits.

“Having advisors is very important to us and it has been a big help,” he added.

Paul Chan, CEO of Craft La (center) and his team.

Paul Chan, CEO and co-founder of Craft La, a Malaysian e-commerce platform for artisans and craftspeople, also commended the accelerator’s mentorship and networking features.

Chan, who was recommended to join Project Alpha by a friend, was previously under the Creative Startups accelerator co-organized by the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre. According to him, Project Alpha provided his startup with experienced and knowledgeable mentors in Malaysia. The mentors helped him to better understand how to scale his business and hone his pitching skills, he said.

He added that with the technical knowledge gained from AWS, he is now building the second iteration of Craft La, which combines e-commerce and e-learning. Chan said he is also looking to share experiences and forge potential partnerships with other finalists.

Sirisilp Kongsilp, CEO of Perception (left) with his team.

Sirisilp Kongsilp, founder and CEO of Thailand-based Perception, also commented that during an event in Bangkok, he observed how the Project Alpha team is passionate about growing the startup scene in Southeast Asia. Perception’s flagship product is a desktop-based mixed reality system called Holo-PC.

Prior to joining Project Alpha, Perception was selected for an accelerator program in Bangkok called U.Reka. On his experience in Project Alpha, Sirisilp said that the mentors helped him develop his fundraising skills, including how to work with VCs. “We really feel that their heart is in the right place and want to help startups. We are grateful to Alpha,” he said.

Below is the full list of finalists:

KrASIA is a media partner.