Several Thai-based startups under the TOPICA Founders Institute (TFI) programme have bagged early funding and reported rapid growth at the end of the four-month acceleration course in Bangkok.
GrabaJob, a Tinder-styled job network, raised a seed investment round of $50,000 even as the company claimed its number of clients and users grew twice and three times respectively.
Another success case is restaurant reservation app HungryHub, which reported over 200 per cent growth in revenue.
Eight of the 11 graduate startups were chosen to pitch to over 40 venture capitalists and angel investors, such as Galaxy Ventures, GREE Ventures, CyberAgent Ventures, Unitus Impact, Carego, Innovatube, Digital Ventures, and the Bangkok Venture Club, a newly-formed angel investing network that recently kickstarted a $20 million fund.
“TFI seems to provide a clear and sharp value proposition to startups that are early but serious. It’s not for dabblers, as the program appears to screen for maximum commitment and readiness within each batch. This is also helpful to mentors who might prefer to be especially selective about the teams they advise,” commented Surawat Promyotin, executive director of the Bangkok Venture Club.
In addition to Grabajob and HungryHub, others startups pitching at the graduation showcase include curated B2B marketplace AsiaGrab, job aggregator site CareerBolt, collaborative communications platform Commment, KParking – a startup that solves parking issue, Pickapet – which aims to help the pet market grow sustainably, and corporate training platform Teamprovements.
After six successful batches, TFI, initiated by Vietnam-headquartered Topica Edtech Group, has graduated almost 60 founders in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.
More than 20 startups under its roof have raised a combined $15 million venture funding, with a total valuation of $80 million. Some Vietnamese startups with international recognition are mobile content distributor Appota, software service firm S3, marketing platform Beeketing and navigation tool iMap.
TFI was launched in Vietnam in 2011 at a time when the tech startup community was in its infancy. The launch of the Thai chapter followed the same fundamentals that TFI had been doing in Vietnam, Bobby Liu, director of the programme, told DEALSTREETASIA.
“We aim to build the ecosystem by building next generations of tech entrepreneurs. Down the line, we want to leverage our know-how and collaborate with Founder Institute chapters in other countries and other different programmes.”
According to Liu, startups in Thailand and Vietnam throughout TFI’s batches have unique advantages. While Vietnamese founders boast more tech talent, Thailand have more non-tech entrepreneurs who are more mature coupled with good English skill.