Kickstart, Plug and Play co-invest in PH mobile-first SaaS platform Squadzip

From left are Kickstart head for portfolio development Alex Alabiso, Squadzip director Justine Castro-Mercado, Squadzip co-founder and chief executive officer Roman Mercado, Kickstart president Minette Navarrete, Kickstart senior vice-president and treasurer Dan Siazon, and Squadzip co-founder and chief technology officer Joaquin Barandino.

Venture capital Kickstart Ventures Inc and Silicon Valley accelerator Plug and Play Tech Center have co-invested an undisclosed amount of seed fund in Squadzip, a mobile-first software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

It was the first co-investment made by the two companies and also marked the first investment of Plug and Play in the Philippines. Kickstart Ventures is Globe Telecom Inc’s wholly-owned corporate venture capital subsidiary, backed by SingTel and the Ayala Corporation.

As a SaaS platform, Squadzip applies the ease of use and familiarity of popular social media platforms to a sales and project management context.

Squadzip CEO and co-founder Roman Mercado started Squadzip 18 months ago and has gained a portfolio of enterprise users across multiple industries. He expressed confidence that with the fresh funds, they are in an even greater position to help more businesses serve their customers better and faster while saving them time and money.

The startup is now also seen to further improve its product and scale distribution locally and overseas.

Also read: Kickstart invests in Cogito, takes portfolio in PH to 20 startups

Kickstart Ventures president Minette Navarrete said Squadzip is an enterprise solution designed to be frontline-focused, and architected to be enterprise-grade.

“Frontliners and head office management share the goal of growing their business, delivering great quality service to customers, and sharing information in real-time, frequently over multiple locations,” Navarrete said.

“Squadzip’s intuitive user interface makes it easy for distributed teams to collaborate and report information and the back-end keeps it simple for management to make good decisions and communicate these quickly. This balance makes Squadzip a powerful tool in business development in today’s fast-paced environment.”

Acording to Plug and Play co-founder and vice president Jojo Flores, Squadzip fits in their criteria of CRM that enhances user experience.

“[Squadzip’s] approach to ease of use and intuitive tagging of information I believe is key to its success,” Flores said. “Squadzip is the first investment of Plug and Play in the Philippines so we’re excited to work with Roman and his team and we hope to accelerate Squadzip’s potential globalization, possibly to become the next Salesforce or Sugar.”

Mercado was inspired to make Squadzip based on his own frustrations in using productivity solutions while he was working in enterprise sales for medical, banking, and digital media industries.

Also read: Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play to invest more in PH startups

How it started

Mercado in his corporate life saw many corporations spend huge amounts of money into enterprise solutions, translating to high upfront fees, hardware cost, complex user trainings, and time delays. These solutions ranged from the free to typically expensive legacy enterprise platforms. This made Mercado tap colleague and now CTO/ co-founder Joaquin Barandino to help build Squadzip that will serve as productivity tool for businesses that allows teams to communicate in real-time and share data without having to endure lengthy forms.

“For our enterprise customers, Squadzip is like their own private company social media platform and wiki. Activities are posted in real time on a live feed which are time- and location-stamped, while business intelligence is captured from each post to be classified and organized easily and in real time into Intel Pages. Also, sales teams involved in specific deals can collaborate and access data from anywhere in the world,” Mercado said.

Social media link

Both Mercado and Barandino capitalised on the Filipinos’ proclivity for social media apps in order to ensure easy adoption by those assigned to use Squadzip.

Instead of the traditional task- and form-based paradigm commonly seen in other solutions, they created a hashtagging system called “ziptags” based on natural reporting behavior which allows users to quickly categorise, search, and retrieve data on customer histories, competitors, and service issues as well as added powerful geo-location and time-stamp features that allow businesses to know what is going on and where it is happening.

Since July 2014 when Squadzip was adopted by their first paying enterprise client, it is now in smartphones carried by teams traveling to different parts of the world. Squadzip is being applied in various use cases including sales, customer relationship management, and project management.

Also read:

Healthtech startup Lifetrack secures funding from Philippines’ Kickstart Ventures, others

KK Fund, Kickstart Ventures invest in LoanSolutions, to advance its fintech business in PH

Philippines’ Tactiles breaks crowdfunding record, tagged a milestone in local startup community

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.