It’s that time of the year when we actually review what has gone past a turbulent year 2009 and probably a year after the financial crisis that rocked the world after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in Sep 2008. Of course, one of the key after effects is that fundraising for start-ups in the technology space become increasingly difficult this year. While we are beginning to see more and more acquisitions in the US tech space, the SG tech start-ups are still working towards a tough environment. In the technology entrepreneurship scene, significant incidents have shaped and brought forward new perspectives in Singapore. While we are about to start the new road ahead in 2010. Here are the top 5 tech entrepreneurship events that rocked SG in 2009 (in no order of preference):
- The Fusion Garage vs TechCrunch fiasco over CrunchPad (now JooJoo): With so much furore that poured out three weeks ago from Mike Arrington who declared the death of Crunchpad, the whole incident has brought upon a sad day in Singapore tech scene. With a lawsuit on intellectual property pending between Fusion Garage and TechCrunch, it is not clear if JooJoo will appeal to the marketplace. We have learned two important lessons from this whole fiasco: one, contractual agreements are necessary for a partnership; two, getting investors who do not understand the tech space are a bad idea, given that the investor Bruce Lee has caused the ruckus that perpetuated the fall of CrunchPad.
- The rise of Brandtology in the social media monitoring space: Earlier the year, we see the emergence of monitoring tools that focus on gathering data and tracking sentiment analysis in the social media space, for e.g. Brandtology, ThoughtBuzz and JamiQ. Within the span of two months, Brandtology has leapt frog among the pack by inking a partnership with Edelman, getting serious series A funding of S$2M from Walden International, and expanded into many countries from Australia to China.
- SocialWok and iTwin shone brightly in TechCrunch 50 event: Singapore start-ups have made their mark in the TechCrunch 50 event in Sep this year, with iTwin making the presentation stage with their product that allow secure file transfer using two USB connected devices and SocialWok, a company specializing in enterprise based social networking and Google applications securing the winner of the DemoPit in the exhibition area of TechCrunch 50. Although we have not heard much from these start-ups, we hope that there will be good news coming ahead from them with respect to funding in the next stages of their venture.
- Neoteny Labs and Hackerspace SG poise to change the funding gap and innovation culture in Singapore?: The Neoteny Labs with Joi Ito bringing his entire ecoystem to jumpstart our nascent tech entrepreneurship scene has begun to change the dynamics with their unconference. With a different strategy from bringing Pivotal Labs and introducing Agile Development to the tech entrepreneurs, the team in Neoteny Labs has brought something totally different, not to mention a real different culture on tolerating failure and encouraging an open source environment. The same can be said of Hackerspace SG, bringing technologists, entrepreneurs and developers from all walks of life in Singapore and setting a private space for hackers to try new ideas and create new technology. The biggest distinction for HackerSpace SG against all other initiatives is that we see enthusiasts in technology are moving out of the comfort zone to start their own thing by putting down their own money instead of relying on public assistance from government. Some wonder why setting up the Hackerspace SG is important and the simplest example I can think is to think about how Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley sparked the personal computer revolution. We hope these new changes will continue to ferment the groundswell and push a tipping point to our entrepreneurial scene here. There are talks on creating a proper Y-Combinator in Singapore after a vibrant discussion in the Neoteny Conference, so watch this space.
- TenCube winning the Android Developer Challenge and other start-ups like 2C2P and BreakDesign winning similar accolades: Over the year, while we see the new start-ups popping out of the blue, we also see the older ones making headway. TenCube has make remarkable strides with their WaveSecure product, first putting the app into Nokia phones and subsequently winning the Android Developer Challenge. We heard that TenCube is in the final stages of closing another round of financing and we wish them all the best for the year ahead. The same can be said of FAME for being the finalist in Facebook Fund competition and many other companies who made headway in 2009 like BreakDesign being the first SG company to get the Adobe-Nokia Open Screen fund and 2C2P winning the Calling All Innovators Challenge for Nokia. Other notable start-ups that have made strides within the year include Tyler Projects, BuUuk, HomeCamera, Garena, Foyage, Time Voyager, AiNet (Lunch Actually and Eteract), Mozat, Mig33 and OrSiSo in the space as well.
With a great year for SG Tech scene in 2009 despite the backdrop of CrunchPad fiasco, we look forward to 2010 and hope to see more new tech companies springing. Probably, I might have not done justice to other events which may be of importance this year. If you have any ones, do drop yours into our comments as well.
Image Credit: SarahDepper