The young entrepreneurs on this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list are attracting big bucks from venture capitalists, and the best-funded members of the cohort are using the proceeds to innovate in sectors ranging from enterprise software to industrial robots.
Emerging enterprise technologies
In China, which accounted for eight of the 19 startups on this year’s list that raised $15 million or more, enterprise software is where investors are seeing potential. Take, for example, Li Ruiyu’s SmartMore. Cofounded in 2019 by Li and renowned Chinese artificial intelligence scientist Jia Jiaya, the startup develops computer vision software that can be used to enhance video, track products and identify malfunction at manufacturing lines. SmartMore raised in October more than $100 million in a series A funding round from investors that included China’s Pine VC and Sequoia Capital China.
Yang Zhilin’s Recurrent AI is also putting artificial intelligence to enterprise use. Cofounded by Yang in 2016, the startup’s software helps monitor conversations initiated by salespeople and summarizes information such as customer preference and age group. Investors including Sequoia China and GSR Ventures put in September $12 million into the company, boosting its total funding to $20 million. Its products have already been applied by several dozen Chinese firms that include Zhong An Insurance and rental firm Ziroom.
4D ShoeTech is another startup developing enterprise software—this time for the fashion industry. Cofounded by 24-year-old Lin Zisen, it uses 3D printing as well as augmented and virtual reality to digitalize the design process, allowing brands to cut by as much as two-thirds the time it takes to go from cutting board to catwalk. “Since the founding of our company, we saw that the fashion business was still predominantly using archaic and inefficient technology,” says Lin, who has so far raised $50 million, including $14 million in its series A round from investors led by China’s CMC Capital.
Meanwhile in India, several fintech startups have raised big sums for their innovations in digital payment and online lending. One is Harshil Mathur’s Razorpay, which raised as much as $365 million in total funding to expand its payment, business loan and payroll management services, and valuing it at $3 billion as of the latest round this month.
Innovative payment services also helped Rajan Bajaj’s Slice raise $33 million in funding so far. The Bangalore-based startup offers payment cards with pre-approved credit lines to mostly first-time credit users who cannot easily get conventional credit cards. Today, Slice has close to 300,000 customers from 30 cities and is processing transactions worth $200 million annually. Its investors include Blume Ventures, Tracxn Labs and China’s Finup.
Last but not least, Ankush Aggarwal and Tushar Mehndiratta’s Avail Finance has won big funding as well. The startup offers loans to blue collar workers who are typically ignored by mainstream banking institutions. It has raised $21.6 million in equity so far from Matrix Partners, Falcon Edge and ANI Technologies.
Star startups in Singapore
Singaporean startups have also attracted big venture funding. Jeff Young’s BitWell raised $30 million in total funding from investors including Hashkey, Dragonfly Ventures and Ceyuan Digital Assets. Young was invited to take the startup’s helm after his investment firm Block Vision Capital also financed this digital currency derivatives platform. He has since grown BitWell’s daily trading volume to more than $100 million.
In the meantime, investors have put more than $20 million in Nathaniel Yim, Mohamed Afiq and Junkai Ng’s Janio Asia, a logistics startup that provides cross-border shipping, last-mile delivery and tracking services in the entire Southeast Asia region. “Janio currently partners with more than 200 logistics partners across the globe and has footprint in more than 3,000 cities across Southeast Asia,” says Ng, who has helped scale the startup to more than 200 employees across five countries in three years.
To see the full list of startups on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list that raised $15 million or more, click here.
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