At a run rate of over a deal a month, the Philippine startup ecosystem buzzed with 16 significant investments led by the venture capital industry’s best known names predominantly in the technology-driven themes.
The startups, that got funded and their ideas validated, represented segments such as online payments, fintech, teleradiology, realty and job platforms and software services.
While Singapore-based VC firm Monk’s Hill marked its debut investment in Philippines, other prominent names who bet on the region include 500 Startups, Beenos, KK Fund, Life.Sreda, AT Capital to name a few. Also, local investors Kickstart Ventures remained prolific in the startup scene while Malaysian accelerator 1337 also made a few investments.
DEALSTREETASIA has culled out a month-by-month chronology of notable startup investments in Year 2015 in Philippines, which has embarked on a five-year government-led strategy of boosting the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The country is targeting creation of 500 startups accounting for a cumulative valuation of $2 billion by 2020. Here goes the list of entrepreneurs that hogged the spotlight in 2015.
Beenos invests in payments platform Paynamics
In the first month of 2015, Paynamics Technologies Inc, a local online payment platform, raised its first round from Japanese e-commerce business incubator group Beenos. The startup addresses merchant problems involving technical connectivity, risk management, and sales conversion. Beenos founder Teruhide Sato, a serial entrepreneur and Internet business expert, led the Series A funding round for Paynamics. Founded in 2010 by Ronald Magleo, Paynamics offers web payment, data vault, email billing, subscription billing and disbursement gateway for enterprises.
Payroll service startup Salarium wins Seedstars prize
In February, local payroll service tech startup Salarium Limited won the global Seedstars World (SSW) Competition held in Geneva, where it bagged the $500,000 Seedstars prize. The jury appeared to be won over by Salarium as it already “gained considerable traction,” with DHL as a signed customer. A total of 12 Asian startups and 36 companies competed for the prize. Asian startups dominated the competition with five of them making it to the top 10.
Kalibrr, ZipMatch raise funds; Monk’s Hill makes PH debut
In March, job-matching platform Kalibrr and online real estate marketplace ZipMatch closed fund-raises worth $2 million and $2.5 million, respectively. It was a second round of funding for Kalibrr, backed by Silicon Valley giant Y-Combinator, Globe Telecom Inc’s Kickstart Ventures Inc, and other foreign investors. Kalibrr is designed to make online recruitment fast, smart, and more reliable. Barely two months after its second funding, the Philippine government tapped Kalibrr for its recruitment activities, focused mostly in enticing more young Filipinos to join the civil service.
ZipMatch raised its third fund-raising round led by Singapore’s Monk’s Hill Ventures which was also its first ever investment in the Philippines. Silicon Valley-based accelerator 500 Startups joined in the Series A funding round together with other investors. ZipMatch’s platform is aimed at helping prospective homebuyers to make confident purchasing decisions.
Kickstart invests in SaaS platform Cogito
In early April, Kickstart served as a sole investor in software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform Cogito, which allows companies to easily create and automate customised business workflows. It converts paper, email, or spreadsheet-based processes to online workflows in minutes without programming. Cogito is co-founded by software enthusiasts Gian Paulo G de la Rama, and Aldrich and Ana Abrogena in mid-2013.
Health-tech startups mClinica, Medix strike a deal
Also last April, health tech startup mClinica acquired an undisclosed equity stake in fellow local startup Medix, a cloud-based dental clinic management service. mClinica is a global provider of mobile health technology for pharmacies and the pharma industry. mClinica’s partnership goal was to leverage on Medix’ technologies and development resources, in order to boost its new service called “Connect Physician” designed to improve doctor-patient relationships, increase health awareness, adherence to treatment regimens, and overall health outcomes for patients.
TaskUs raises money from local PE Navegar Fund
In June, outsourcing startup TaskUs raised its first round at $15 million from Philippine-based private equity firm Navegar Fund. Although now headquartered in Santa Monica in California, TaskUs had its first office in Manila in 2009 after Bryce Maddock and Jaspar Weir founded it in 2008. TaskUs provides outsourced customer care and back office support to some of the world’s most popular tech startups such as Uber, AdRoll, PokitDok, Savings.com, Autodesk, and others. Bulk of its operations though are mostly still in the Philippines.
Fintech startups LoanSolutions, TheKard get funds
In July, a combination of startup investments were made in two fintech (financial technology) companies, LoanSolutions and TheKard. The former provides an online loan services platform, while the latter offers location-based mobile loyalty solutions utilising its mobile digital privilege card the MobKard App.
LoanSolutions raised funds from Kickstart Ventures, Singapore-based VC fund the KK Fund, including a personal investment made by John Dang, the CEO and co-founder of ZipMatch. LoanSolutions CEO and co-founder Jean-Patrick Bisson said their goal is to disrupt the lending industry by empowering Filipinos to make educated borrowing decisions.
TheKard, however, raised up to $373,000 fresh capital in an investment made by digital signage advertising firm Globaltronics Inc whose leaders saw the startup’s business model as highly salable. Mobkard, which provides business-to-communities (B2C) with location-based mobile loyalty solutions, somehow renders discount vouchers or loyalty cards to become obsolete.
500 Startups bets on night-life app Partyphile
In September, tech startup Partyphile, creator of the first night-life app in the Philippines, announced expanding in Southeast Asia after raising an undisclosed amount of seed fund in its second fund raising led by 500 Startups. Partyphile also raised additional seed funding from DOT Entertainment, AppVenture, and angel investors Lance Garcia and Kenneth Tiu. Formerly Guestlist.ph, Partyphile is a party discovery app which was a brain-child of startup founder Ron Baetiong. His goal since the startup’s inception two years ago was to make partying easy, automated, and hassle-free by enabling users to discover and get access to the best nightlife events in Manila via its mobile app.
Lenddo raises Series B from Singapore fintech VC firms
In October, data provider for credit scoring and online verification Lenddo received an undisclosed amount of investments made in a Series B round led by Singapore-based fintech VC firms Life.SREDA, AT Capital, and Omidyar Network, Blumberg Capital and Golden Gate Ventures. Incepted in 2011 by co-founders Richard Eldridge and Jeff Stewart, Lenddo began its operations in Manila and continues to do so. Now based in Hong Kong, it has other offices in Bogotá, Mexico City, and New York. It functions as an online platform that helps members utilise social connections to develop creditworthiness and access local financial services.
Kickstart Ventures funds telerad firm Lifetrack
In the same month, healthtech startup Lifetrack Medical Systems also raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from local investment firm Kickstart Ventures and others. Located in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, Lifetrack is the first Asian-focused teleradiolgoy firm to offer both USA International Standard Professional Services as well as the first RIS/PACS with Integrated Decision Support. Lifetrack was incorporated in late 2012 and only commenced commercial operations in 2014.
1337 Ventures bets on Pas Pas, Fresk2Ket, iMpok
In November, Malaysia-based accelerator 1337 Ventures has invested in three local startups via its pre-accelerator programme Alpha Startups. Based in Cebu City, startups Pas Pas, Fresk2Ket, and iMpok, will get a “small cash injection” and $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credit from 1337 Ventures. They will also receive continuous mentoring from the Malaysian venture capital firm. Fresk2Ket came up with a marketplace connecting farmers to restaurants and other businesses while Pas Pas made a last-mile delivery service using text message, and iMpok introduced a cash deposit and micro-financing platform for schools.
Social startup Bagosphere gets funds from Swiss impact investor
Less than a week after the Alpha Startups programme, a social enterprise startup in the Philippines focused on solving youth unemployment, BagoSphere, received its second round of funding led by Swiss philanthropic impact investor elea Foundation for Ethics in Globalization. The other investors were Kickstart Ventures, and Small World Group Incubator based in Singapore. BagoSphere co-founder and CEO Zhihan Lee said they will use the funds to grow its team and spearhead expansion to Metro Manila in 2016 and other next wave cities in two to three years. BagoSphere currently operates in the cities of Bacolod and Bago, both in Negros Occidental province.