‘Toolbox’ on Singapore startup ecosystem shows it’s soaring
By Benjamin Cher August 13, 2015
- Jump in the number of incubators and accelerators
- 42 exits in the last 10 years, totalling US$529.3mil
SINGAPORE, known as an Asian launchpad for multinational companies in the 1990s, is quickly becoming one for startups in the 2010s – at least, according to the Singapore Startup Ecosystem and Entrepreneurial Toolbox prepared by one Arnaud Bonzom (pic).
Bonzom is director of special projects at Silicon Valley-based accelerator 500 Startups and a former INSEAD entrepreneur-in-residence, as well as an angel investor in a number of startups including Helint, Krak and Garuda Robotics.
In his spare time, he works on developing tools for the startup ecosystem. His Singapore toolbox contains information and statistics about Singapore that answer common questions entrepreneurs and investors might have about the startup ecosystem and support mechanisms available in the Lion City.
Bonzom told Digital News Asia (DNA) that he was inspired to develop this deck to give back to the community by sharing resources.
“Four years ago when I arrived in Singapore, I was clueless about the local startup ecosystem … I wanted to give back to the community by sharing some resources,” he said via email.
The first version of his toolbox was published a year ago, but there have been a number of new developments that Bonzom wanted to include.
“In the last 12 months I saw a lot of new things, so I decided to spend a little bit more time to build a second version with more insights about the ecosystem,” he said.
Here are some interesting highlights and facts about the Singapore startup ecosystem that Bonzom has compiled:
Incubators and accelerators
The number of accelerators in Singapore has jumped from nine to 19 in the last year alone. Long-time players like the Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI.Asia) are now seeing accelerators like Muru-d and SPH Plug and Play enter the arena.
Accelerators in Singapore consist of a mix of corporate and entrepreneur-run programmes. Corporate accelerators include Telstra-backed Muru-D, Mediacorp’s Mediapreneur, and Unilever Foundry.
The presence of many Asia Pacific corporate headquarters in Singapore may be one reason for the good mix of corporate-run programmes, with regional leaders being able to keep an eye out for possible acquisitions or investment opportunities, Bonzom’s toolbox ventures.
There is also an increased focus on fintech (financial services technology) accelerators, with Startupbootcamp Fintech and InspirAsia among them.
This is despite the tight regulations Singapore has placed on the financial sector, but even banks like DBS and UBS are working with startups.
Angels and mortals
Singapore has robust support in place for angel investors, venture capital (VC) firms and startups, with programs for both sides of the fence.
This is highly unusual, according to Bonzom, as most governments only offer support to startups and rarely to angel investors or VCs.
From tax deductions for angel investors to a scheme where government agencies match funds on a 1:1 basis on the amount invested by VCs, there is plenty of support and attraction for investors to relocate to Singapore to participate in the ecosystem.
For startups, there is a framework from which a number of grants can be obtained such as the Proof-Of-Concept Grant and the Technology Incubation Scheme grant. The Government even allows startups to apply for a dollar-to-dollar matching investment via the Business Angel Scheme.
Singapore has seen significant funding rounds in the first quarter of 2015. Antuit came in first, securing a US$56-million round led by Goldman Sachs, with MatchMove Pay coming in second, raising about US$30 million.
The average deal size in Singapore is US$6 million however, with values of the top 15 investment amounts ranging from US$56 million to US$800,000. Most investment amounts fall below US$10 million, with only Trax, apart from Antuit and MatchMove Pay securing US$15 million.
Exit stage left
There have been 42 exits in Singapore since 2006, totalling US$529.3 million. Software businesses take up the lion’s share of these exits, accounting for 30% of the total.
Singapore startups have also been finding favour with US companies, with 30% of acquirers originating from the United States. Singapore comes in a close second, acquiring 23% of the startups here.
The INSEAD and National University of Singapore (NUS) overseas college programmes have spawned entrepreneurs and VCs that populate Singapore’s startup scene.
INSEAD’s alumni populate up-and-coming startups such as RedMart, MyRepublic and PropertyGuru, to name a few. The same alumni also run things on the other side of the fence at VC firms such as Innov8 Venture, Vertex Ventures and L-Capital Asia, among others.
Former staff from INSEAD have also gone into VC firms such as Sequoia Capital and Unicorn Venture Capital.
NUS overseas college programme students have founded startups such as Carousell, 99.co, Peekspy (acquired by telco giant StarHub) and e27.
To check out Bonzom’s Singapore Startup Ecosystem and Entrepreneurial Toolbox, click below:
Silicon Valley? Why the Singapore startup ecosystem rocks
The ‘Delaware model’ and why Singapore is kicking butt
IIPL’s strategic approach to accelerating the ecosystem
Accelerator avalanche and Singapore’s startup hub issue
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