Singapore startups embrace local culture

Singapore startups embrace local culture

Summary: Ahead of Aug. 9 national day celebrations, ZDNet Asia speaks with five local startups which showcase Singapore's culture through their recent products.

TOPICS: Start-Ups, Singapore

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  • With celebrations for the country's Aug. 9 national day hitting full swing, ZDNet Asia highlights some local startups which have been proudly flying the Singapore flag and showcasing its culture in their products.

    The five featured include e-commerce startup PayWhere, with its social commerce platform TackThis. The service has been used to power up the donations processing system for a charity campaign currenlty running in the lead up to the national day celebrations.

    Another startup with a product under the event banner is Massive Infinity and its app, NDPOnTheGo. The application helps provide information related to the National Day Parade, and includes the use of augmented reality in one of its games as a way to engage users.

    Leveraging Singapore culture, particularly coffee drinking, is one of the success stories behind yet another startup Burpple. It ran a project to educate users on how to order "kopi" or local coffee "like a pro", which went viral at home and overseas. It eventually caught the interest of the local tourism board, which borrowed the concept for its own promotional activities.

    Kopi was also the ingredient for success for one-man outfit, Afzane. Its time-management game, where the player runs a coffeeshop in Singapore, hit the number one spot for games in the iTunes app store here as well as in Malaysia for about two weeks.

    Tourists to Singapore can also look forward to getting around more easily with the services of the fifth featured startup, TouristPads, an iPad rental company dedicated to the tourism industry. The company believes with more tech-savvy and business travellers visiting the country, getting around with a mobile device instead of conventional maps will be a growing trend.

  • Team members of PayWhere: CEO Dickson Gregory (3rd from right), CFO Damian Chow (1st from right), CTO Vincent Lau (1st from left), Visual design director Gerard Ng (3rd from left)

    A casual conversation in December 2009 between three friends from junior college over the hassle of collecting payments online, set in motion the setup of e-commerce startup PayWhere. Several conversations later, the concept for social commerce platform TackThis was born--with the aim to help individuals and business owners easily create their own e-stores on their own blogs or social networking sites.

    The three initial co-founders Dickson Gregory, Damian Chow, and Vincent Lau were later joined by their friend Gerard Ng.

    "They can simply start by signing up an account and after uploading the products to be sold, tack or embed the store, which is enhanced with social shopping features, to social networks to optimize traffic and sales," said Lau, the company's CTO.

    The platform caught the eye of the organizing committee behind Singapore's National Day celebrations, which was keen to use it to power the system for collecting donations for its charity campaign, Building A Loving SG, across multiple platforms such as over Web sites, Facebook and mobile.

    "That was how TackThis made it possible for visitors on the official National Day Parade Web site, Facebook page and even people at bus-stops via scanning of QR code on the bus stop posters, to be converted into donors," said Lau.

    The CTO shared with ZDNet Asia more on his startup's role in the campaign.

    What is the objective behind Building A Loving SG?
    Lau: Building A Loving SG is one of the several campaigns that are held leading up to the actual NDP celebrations on Aug. 9. As this year's theme is about Loving Singapore, the Building A Loving SG campaign hopes to remind Singaporeans, through the use of LEGO mini-figures they contribute to fill the LEGO replica of the Marina Bay Floating Platform, everyone of us can play a part in building a loving and inclusive society.

    The main beneficiary of this campaign is the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, which aids underprivileged children, the real building blocks of our nation's future.

    The campaign ended two weeks ago with more than 3,400 unique online visitors to date. About 9 out of 50 visitors contributed to the campaign.

    What are some of the highlights since starting the company, and what have you learnt?
    Ever since the launch of TackThis in Sept 2011, we secured angel investments and recently closed a seed round with Red Dot Ventures.

    In February this year, we secured an exclusive partnership with global blogging platform, LiveJournal, to power LJCheckout as a solution for blogshops. 

    We know running a startup would not be easy. Through the whole process, we have learnt to become much better in communicating value to both customers and investors alike.

    What's next in the pipeline?
    We are currently collaborating with brands to bring across social shopping experiences to their customers on their social media channels. We are now preparing to scale our service across the region and aim to come out of beta by the end of September this year, exactly one year after we launched TackThis.

Topics: Start-Ups, Singapore


Loves caption contests, leisurely strolls along supermarket aisles and watching How It's Made. Ryan has covered finance, politics, tech and sports for TV, radio and print. He is also co-author of best seller "Profit from the Panic". Ryan is an editor at ZDNet's Asia/Singapore office.

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