A global seed-stage tech start-up competition – the Switzerland-based Seedstars World, is holding a pitching competition in Yangon.
After the initial session eight tech start-ups will be chosen for a training programme at the Strategy First Institute and they will then present a final pitch on August 13. The final winner will be flown to Switzerland, where it will compete with other regional winners for a $1 million prize at the Seedstars Summit.
A few selected start ups also have the opportunity to get into Seedstars’ growth program, a three month online acceleration programme where start-ups receive expert mentoring and a small grant in return of an equity share.
“The benefit of hosting the program online is that we really can deliver world-class mentoring across key vertical and horizontal sectors, without the limitation of location,” Nick Feneck, Asian associate for Seedstars World told DEALSTREETASIA.
This year for Myanmar, there are over 40 applications for Seedstars World and seen huge improvements compared to last year’s start-ups who were “incredibly enthusiastic but lacking in commercial awareness and business acumen.” “This year, the pool is far stronger,” he said. Last year, the selected team was UMS Queen, an online platform for teachers and students to map their progress.
In Myanmar, most of the tech start-ups are software start-ups to support the growing services industry and consumer needs.
One thing the start-ups need to improve is the commercial point of view, said Nick. “The startups now need to develop their business acumen and commercial awareness, as well as partner with the right organisations. This will be key to their success,” he said.
“This is the great time to be in Myanmar for a startup, and investor. While tourism and the services industry is booming, there is a significant lack of infrastructure and ways of connecting consumers to their needs. So we see a number of startups that are simply applying globally tested models in a localised sense,” he added.
The top three winners will be also get a scholarship by Strategy First for K1000,000 ($843), K600,000 ($506) and K400,000 ($337), respectively while the AYA bank will provide support -including interest free loans.
The companies pitching for the competition need to have a minimum viable product, less than two years old and an investment under $500,000.
“Seedstars World is a platform connecting investors to the next generation of startup entrepreneurs, pulling the spotlight from Silicon Valley and Western Europe. After three years of our existence, we have definitely confirmed our initial hypothesis that the best way to have an impact in emerging countries is by investing and promoting entrepreneurship,” explains Alisée de Tonnac, Seedstars World CEO in the release.
They will be hosting the start-up pitching competition in 18 Asian countries including Hong Kong, Bangkok, Manila, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Myanmar allowed foreign telecom operators Telenor and Ooredoo to operate in the country just recently in 2014, making the use of internet more affordable and competitive in the country compared to time before 2012 where only one local operator, MPT had been taking charge.
Other accelerators that are present in Myanmar giving support for tech talents include Phandeeyar that recently secured $2 million grant for investment in tech start-ups and Lithan that plans to invest $3 million in start-ups in Myanmar.