Singapore, 12 June 2013 -- Last week saw JFDI.Asia field seven new and two returning startups at the Demo Day which marked the end of its first seed accelerator program for 2013. Over 100 investor meetings were set up in the hour following the event and, this week, reaction from investors has flowed in with some prepared to nominate the startups that caught their eye.
The JFDI.Asia 2013A Demo Day was sponsored by Global Brain Corporation of Japan and attracted over 150 active cash investors, comprising 141 private individuals and funds, 9 public sector funds and 19 Corporate investors. Of those, 112 operate at seed level, 17 at series A and 33 prefer later stage deals. Investors came from countries as diverse as Australia (4), China (4), France (1), Japan (12), Malaysia (7), Philippines (4), Russia (2), Singapore (93), Taiwan (3), Thailand (2), UK (2), USA (21) and Vietnam (1).
Lim Kuo-Yi, Chief Executive of Singapore’s Infocomm Investments (IIPL) said: “I can’t say enough that JFDI is pivotal to the scene here. I think they have done a lot of good.” Responding to the Demo Day line up, he continued: “I thought it was fantastic with some very polished ideas. I am not going to pick favourites but there are couple I am going to pay more attention to!”
Unsurprisingly Dave McClure, who styles himself ‘Chief Troublemaker’ at 500 Startups, was less circumspect: “I thought it was great. I liked the Klinify pitch. I thought those guys had an interesting story. The Scrollback one - I am not sure how they make money but I thought that was an interesting product idea.”
For Vinnie Lauria, Partner at Golden Gate Ventures, one startup stood out in particular: “It was a great event - all the teams gave very solid demos but Duable had a very good pitch. It was very simple, very clean. I heard a number of people talking about them afterwards.”
Brad Porteous, Regional General Manager - Southeast Asia at MIH noted a change compared to JFDI.Asia’s 2012 demo day: “I felt like the ambition level has really increased a lot. The first batch of entrepreneurs came up with some really solid ideas and obviously a bunch of them got funded. But this batch seems to have taken on a bigger bite of the pie, which is really great to see. They’re solving problems that they are familiar with here in the region and also some problems that are going to impact people worldwide. No favourites ... but I will say that some of the companies that I was a little bit skeptical about, reading the materials, I got a little crush on. I fell in love!
Many investors attending were looking to invest more than cash in the businesses they back. Among them, Group M Malaysia’s Head of Interaction Joni Leimala said: “I’m here to check out what kinds of interesting technologies are coming up to see if we could either partner up or invest in them. I have to say that I am gladly surprised. All the teams that presented were a lot more mature than I was expecting. It’s not play: it’s serious business we’re talking here. Yes, they are still quite early in terms of building solutions and making them a real business but the talent is there and the thinking is there. There were a couple of really compelling cases with very good opportunities and I am excited to talk to the guys about how we could benefit mutually from that.”
On a personal level, again it was JFDI.Asia startup Duable Chinese that appealed to Joni Leimala: “I have a favourite because I have been trying to learn Chinese! My daughter is starting to speak and I want to understand what she’s talking about behind my back to her mother! I think there’s a good opportunity for Group M to help Duable become a bigger force globally and I think we can help by providing some of our proprietary technology. So that’s one very good opportunity and there are a couple of others too.”
For Jackson Chan, DMG Information Asia Pacific, the Demo Day points towards a larger opportunity: ”I think it was fantastic - a great event - a lot more vibrant than when I first got here and the startups a lot more polished than they used to be. I like Krake and Klinify very much. I think JFDI is making the right move in trying to build up an incubator as an asset class. It’s a perfect time to go that way.”
Pre-registration for the next JFDI.Asia seed accelerator program, starting in August, is now open at http://jfdi.asia/accelerator. The official opening for full applications is anticipated imminently.