The Top 10 startups of Asia at Open Web Asia 2012


The light tropical resort island of Hainan, China turned into a business and tech hub for four days for the APEC SME Summit and Open Web Asia 2012. Held from Dec 7-10th December, the Summit is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. This year is the first time Open Web Asia (OWA) was held as part of the APEC SME Summit.

Held in both English and Mandarin, OWA this year saw several interesting panel discussions around mobile (read what went on in the panel I moderated on “The Golden Age of Asian Mobile Internet” (article in Mandarin), gaming and e-commerce. We even had a massive 10-member panel discussion on the various country startup ecosystems (article in Mandarin) around Asia.

Having been held once every two years since 2008 (first in Seoul, South Korea, then Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), it was the first time China hosted OWA. It was also the first time that OWA had a top ten startups award.

We scoured the entire Asia region to find these startups, with the help of key people like Lu Gang of TechNode (the main organizer of the conference), James Jung of beSUCCESS, Daniel Cerventus of, Rama Mamuaya of, Casey Lau of StartupsHK, Ngân Sâu of, Masaru Ikeda of StartupDating, Mohan Belani of e27, Gaurav Mishra, and myself.

From a huge list of 100, we narrowed it down to 20, and from these 20, 10 were chosen. They were chosen based on potential, traction, taking into account product and business models. To have qualified, the startup or one of its core features must have launched or released no more than a year ago.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 startups of Asia at Open Web Asia 2012:


Between (South Korea): Private social network for two people. It has almost 2 million downloads.


Burpple (Singapore): Food journaling app. Burpple just raised a seed round of USD 500K.


Divide (Hong Kong): The Divide platform by Enterproid gives mobile professionals a new way to use their smartphones for both work and personal life.


Hoiio (Singapore): Cloud communications for businesses. You may be a small company, but you can add some panache into your communications with a operator-style company number. Dial 1: to seem bigger than you are.


Moglue (South Korea): Make your own interactive ebooks. Selling an ebook created and distributed via the Moglue platform in the App Store costs USD 99 for one title or USD 999 for an unlimited amount of book apps for one year for either the iOS or Android platform, or for both platforms, USD 299 for one title or USD 1,499 for unlimited number per year.


Nana (Japan): Music collaboration app. Users can record, share and mix their audio with other users on the platform. Originally released just in Japanese, Nana recently released an English version.


Panoplaza (Japan): Create panorama photos of real world shops online.


Piktochart (Malaysia): Online infographic creation tool. In just several months, Piktochart has already made USD 200K in revenue.


Shakr Media (South Korea): Shakr Media’s goal is to re-imagine everything. It is automating the creation of editorial news videos that will be viewable at on the web, via mobile and connected TV.


TaxiMonger (Malaysia): Review and book taxis from your phone and the web. Search for a taxi by its license plate number for past comments/ratings of the taxi and write comments about your ride too.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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