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Highlights from day 2 morning sessions at Startup Asia Singapore 2014

Startup Asia Singapore 2014

Viki CEO: “The next six months should be good”

The morning session of Startup Asia Singapore Day 2 featured a battery of four fireside chats. Kicking things off was a talk withViki co-founder and CEO Razmig Hovaghimian.

The Viki story has become familiar to many in the tech world and the company’s reach is still growing. Hovaghimian noted that content on the site has been translated into over 200 languages, 50 of which are endangered. Viki has 30 million active users and 20 million mobile device installs.

Though he remained coy on the company’s precise revenue, he did note that the triple threat of advertising, syndication, and premium Viki pass should triple current revenue by the end of the year.

“We’re building a market that doesn’t exist.” - @Viki CEO Razmig Hovaghimian #startupasia

— Tech in Asia (@Techinasia) May 8, 2014

“I’m focused more on culture. It has to be a product that matters.” @viki #startupasia

— Chan Wen Tjun (@wentjun) May 8, 2014

Hovaghimian spoke very highly of his experience as part of the Rakuten Group. He said the acquisition “turbocharged the [company] a little bit.” Even now he describes Hiroshi Mikitani, the President and CEO of the Rakuten Group, as being very invested in the future of Viki and mentioned that just last week he, Mikitani, and Talmon Marco (CEO of Viber, another Rakuten acquisition) had productive meetings about how best to collaborate. In closing, he advised the audience to keep an eye on Viki because “the next 6 months should be good.”

MyRepublic is “not looking for an exit”

MyRepublic CEO Malcolm Rodrigues took the stage for the second fireside chat of the day. He was effusive over the recent success of the telecom startup, noting the company only needed one percent of the broadband market to break even but was already targeting five to six percent.

“Hiring people you trust and you empower.” @MyRepublicCEO on how to scale culture as a startup grows.#startupasia

— Fabian Lua (@fabianlua) May 8, 2014

No exit plans, because we have the chance to build something different. Brave words from @myrepublic CEO#startupasia

— Sushobhan (@sushobhan) May 8, 2014

Rodrigues explained he has studiously avoided seeking venture capital investment, preferring to only accept capital from angel investors. He says, “everytime we talk to a VC about series B, series C, it’s always a painful conversation.” The Canadian native further noted his good fortune to be based in Singapore, where there are about 80,000 individuals with at least US$1 million in liquidity.

The future looks bright for MyRepublic. The mobile broadband industry is taking off around Asia-Pacific and Rodrigues estimates the company can target an IPO in 2017 after entering another four to five countries.

Gumi CEO looks to make “historical IPO”

Hironao Kunimitsu was relaxed and engaging during the third fireside chat of the day. With good reason, too–Gumi overcame a difficult in 2013 to [reassert itself in the gaming industry[(http://www.techinasia.com/gumi-struggled-through-tough-year-gumi-and-bounced-stronger/). By Hiromitsu’s calculations, the company was barely treading water last year with only US$3 million in revenue per month. 2014 has told a different story so far; he described the company’s revenue as hitting between US$20 and US$30 million per month.

After Tech in Asia’s own Willis Wee noted that Fuji TV, a Japanese media firm, was involved in Gumi’s most recent funding, Kunimitsu shared the company’s new vertical. He said Gumi wants “to make animation [its] new frontier”. Citing giants such as Nintendo, Disney, and Square Enix, he noted that a strong, character-centered intellectual property portfolio is a valuable asset that Gumi wants to be involved with and that influenced his decision to accept funding from Fuji TV.

Gumi wants to be the #1 entertainment company, CEO qualifies the massive ambition with “made for this era”. Nice. #startupasia

— Sushobhan (@sushobhan) May 8, 2014

#fujiTV invests in #Gumi - movie is on the way to merchandise the social games #startupasia

— Crystal Jiang (@crysjiang) May 8, 2014

Kunimitsu also he revealed Gumi is likely to file for an IPO by the end of this year. He declined to specify which exchange would be chosen. When pressed on the value of the company, he responded to the suggestion of $300 million succinctly–“We’re not that cheap”.

RedMart’s co-founders went to INSEAD and became “toilet paper delivery men”

Roger E. Egan III and Vikram Rupani, RedMart co-founders, took some time to recount the early days of their business. The service, which they describe as a technology and logistics company that handles online groceries, launched shortly after they graduated with MBAs from INSEAD. Although they had not intended to provide so-called last mile services, they found their initial outsourced service to be woefully insufficient. Tackling the probem personally, they bought a van and started doing deliveries themselves, becoming “toilet paper delivery men” in the process.

“Culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage” Roger Egan on importance of company culture@RedMartcom #startupasia

— Chan Wen Tjun (@wentjun) May 8, 2014

RT @crysjiang: Top 3 selling groceries @redmartcom : 1. Bottle water 2. Toilet paper 3. Kitchen paper w/ high margin#startupasia

— Amy Lieu (@amylieumedia) May 8, 2014

The pair noted that, in-line with projections, early adopters were largely expats. Today, the core user base has become Singaporean citizens, 75 percent of whom are women between 25 and 34 years old. The service has gained much attention recently for it’s oversubscribed funding rounds, and Egan speculated their current funding round could also become oversubscribed. The key to their success is summarized by Egan as a refusal to give up and by Rupani’s insistence that they “never compromise on talent.”

Editing by Paul Bischoff

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