There were plenty of distractions at Startups in Asia, the first-ever tech startup event organized by Asian tech blog Penn Olson — including a couple of Kimono-clad ladies and helpers in tight skirts.
But the star of the show remained the Startup Arena, a pitching competition where 19 startups vied for the top prize of a US$10,000 check, as well as some Lenovo laptops and Nokia Lumia 800 mobile phones.
The winner, announced yesterday, on day two of the conference, turned out to be Singapore-based startup Teamie, which is building a social learning platform that aims to make learning more fun, social, and intuitive.
The judges for the competition consists of investors and entrepreneurs like Ash Singh, CEO at InteractiveSG (which is producing Angel’s Gate), Daniel Saito, co-founder at SkySQL and an angel investor, Eric Koh, CTO at Jobscentral and partner at Iconic Ventures, and James Tan, co-founder of 55tuan (his experience in China) and managing partner at Quest VC.
Teamie, founded by Shivanu Shukla and Ashwin Singh, is building a tool that allows students to collaborate with one another, complete quizzes, and submit assignments. Teachers can also use Teamie to track and analyse student performance, as well as grade assignments.
There’s even some gamification elements thrown in: Students will be placed on a leaderboard and ranked according to how much they interact with others.
Teamie hopes to target two industries: The education sector, which consists of universities and private schools, and also the corporate training sector.
First runner-up: Innova Tech (Singapore)
Prizes were also given to the runner-ups. In second place was Innova Tech, a startup which has the simple aim of preventing you from losing your stuff.
To achieve this, it uses a really thin black device (picture), which can be slipped into a wallet, bag, or even taped to a child. Paired with a smartphone app, the phone will ring once the user steps too far away from the black device. The distance is customizable.
What happens if a user misses the ring? They will be able to track the last known location of the lost item on the app, which is integrated with Google Maps.
Already, the device has already garnered US$10,000 in sales after being placed on IndieGogo, a US-based crowdsourcing platform. It retails at US$30.
The device is certainly useful, but I find that there are some limitations. If I want to obtain multiple cards for use in my wallet, passport, and briefcase at once, I’m not sure if the app can sync with three devices at the same time.
And even if it can, I would have to pay a total of US$90 for three of the devices — which is prohibitive.
Rick Tan went missing when it was his turn to collect the prize during the awards ceremony however. Perhaps he should have used the device on himself.
Second runner-up: Start Now (Singapore)
Coming in third is Start Now, a social enterprise that has launched a free-to-use platform that makes it easier for NGOs to find volunteers and vice-versa.
What I like about Start Now is the comprehensiveness of their platform — NGOs have tools to group volunteers, send out notifications to them, and create events. They are also working on a feature that tracks the performance of each volunteer to allow NGOs to identify who can be relied upon.
Volunteers, on the other hand, can tick certain preferences to receive notifications about the kind of activities they would like to be involved in.
Start Now hopes to generate revenue by charging corporations on a per seat basis to use the platform, as well as charging NGOs for using their pro plan. They are also getting into targeted ads, cause marketing, and building custom CSR sites.
So far, they have gained some traction, attaining over 18,000 users in a four-day span. Admittedly, these sign-ups are retrieved from the email databases of 42 non-profits — so we have no idea how many active users are there.
They are looking to expand overseas as well. Through a partnership with Peking University, they will launch a China version of the site, called kaishi.com.
Fourth and fifth place: Waffle (South Korea) and Piktochart (Malaysia)
Wi-fi can really be a pain-in-the-ass sometimes. Waffle hopes to make it easier for users to log in to a public Wi-Fi network — by just signing in to Facebook or Twitter. The user would then be checking-in and promoting the restaurant or cafe on a social network — all at the same time.
Picktochart hopes to solve another problem altogether. Infographics are all the rage now, not just because they are a fad, but because they make data easier to digest and absorb. Yet, for those without design or Photoshop skills, creating a beautiful infographic is at best an aspiration. To address this, Picktochart has created a web app that lets users easily create highly-customizable infographics.
Which participants from the Startup Arena were you excited about? Share your thoughts with us!