Asean Digest: 500 Startups backs Vietnam’s Cricket One; Thai Drivehub to expand footprint

The 500 Startups logo is displayed at the company's Capital Towers office in Singapore. Photo: Ipsita Ray/DEALSTREETASIA

Vietnam-based food alternative provider Cricket One has raised an undisclosed sum led by early-stage investors 500 Startups and Singapore-based Masik Enterprises while Thailand-based online car rental marketplace, Drivehub, announced that it is looking to expand its car rental service into other Southeast Asia markets.

500 Startups, Masik Enterprises invest in Vietnamese cricket protein startup 

Vietnam-based food alternative provider Cricket One has raised an undisclosed sum led by early-stage investors 500 Startups and Singapore-based Masik Enterprises.

The seed funding will be used for further R&D and study of the cricket protein structure, Cricket One said in a statement.

Founded in 2017, the company claims it is managing over 25 million crickets per month, with the flagship Cricket One product containing about 60-70 per cent protein and 7 per cent fiber cricket powder, being sold to bakeries and chip makers in Europe and the US.

New products, such as sausage and mayonnaise made of cricket protein and oil, and protein beverages out of soluble cricket powder are currently in trials in Vietnam, Russia and Korea. Meanwhile, crickets can also provide ingredients for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, the company said.

East and Southeast Asian countries take up over 90 per cent of global insect consumption, according to Cricket One, adding that cricket is a more environmentally friendly source of protein than beef or chicken.

“In fact, with each hectare able to produce over 250 tonnes of pure protein per year, it is almost 50 times more productive than growing soy beans,” Masik Enterprises director Mikhail Zeldovich said.

Masik Enterprises invests in early-stage technology companies in Asia, in food and agriculture (Cricket One, Agratek, Agrodrones), sustainability and green tech (SensorFlow), fintech (ARD Financial, Lendela), and cybersecurity (Oceanshield, Autovisor).

Alternative protein is an emerging sector in Asia, yet with significant funding. Singapore-based Sustenir Agriculture bagged a $16-million investment from backers including Singapore state investor Temasek and Australia’s Grok Ventures, according to Reuters, while Shiok Meats, also from the island state, raised $4.6 million earlier this year. Overseas companies, such as listed Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger and JUST Inc, are either backed by Asian investors or expanding into this region.

Thai Drivehub to expand car rental service

After raising $1 million from KK Fund and a group of angels, Thailand-based online car rental marketplace, Drivehub, announced that it is looking to expand its car rental service into other Southeast Asia markets.

Drivehub is a B2C car rental marketplace and fleet management platform that can accept both low risk accredited and high-risk unaccredited car rental user segments.

The company claims that is the first car rental marketplace to integrate and combine nationwide and local car rental providers into a single platform.

The company, which launched its car rental platform in 2017, has expanded its presence across 33 locations over Thailand by connecting thousands of rental vehicle from nationwide (such as Hertz, National, Sixt) and local car rental providers with potential renters.

Drivehub is also eyeing regional expansion and aiming to penetrate into other mobility sectors. KK Fund is a Singapore-based venture capital fund investing in seed stage internet & mobile startups in Southeast Asia, Taiwan & Hong Kong.

 

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.