Author Archive

Mexico Bank Buys Into Singapore Startup in a Big Way

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

For Singapore startup Lucep, their first product hit came from India’s banking industry, with a virtual queue service called VirtuaQ, reports Tech In Asia’s Malavika Velayanikal.

The next generation of VirtuaQ, Lucep OmniPath, is what COO and co-founder Zal Dastur calls “an omnichannel management system” built for banks and medical clinics.

The impact has been international: A leading Mexican bank chain bought into the product in a big way, licensing it for 1,800 branches.

“A lot of banks are looking for ways in which they can reach customers that have never dealt with banks before. These customers expect a bank to behave like any other consumer business,” Dastur said in an interview with Tech In Asia.

Overpromising and Other Lessons Learned From Failed Unicorns

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Since unicorns — valued at more than $1 billion — are given valuations based on the promise of future growth, it’s not surprising many never live up to their potential.

In Entrepreneur Magazine, guest writer Daniel Neiditch highlights five major pitfalls that prevent unicorns from actually living up to the hype.


“Lofty goals are an important thing to have,” he writes, “but your business can’t be based on something you’re not ready to deliver.”

Not Valuing The Workforce

As the vital cogs that keep a growing company’s engine moving, it’s important to value the contributions of your employees.

Trying to Grow too Fast

Be patient. Don’t give into the temptation to spend like a big company.


Be honest with customers (and employees too).

Ignoring the Competition

A great idea is one thing but you need to prepare for the competition you will almost certainly face down the road.

As Big Data Gets Bigger, Are Canadian Businesses Listening?

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

As part of Small Business Week, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has released a comprehensive report outlining the digital landscape’s disruption of Canadian business.

The report, which identifies six major trends facing small businesses in 2017 as they move towards future-proof operations, goes into detail about one particularly cumbersome aspect of the digital world: The rise of big data and the data economy.

Big Data is Big Business

In February, Gartner predicted that approximately 8.4 billion devices would be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by the end of the year—a 31% increase from 2016. Using data from IHS Markit, the BDC report, on the other hand, makes it clear these numbers are set to explode, reaching 75 billion connected devices by 2025.

Are Canadian businesses leveraging this information to create growth, or are they letting this “oil of the digital era” (as The Economist put it) slip through the cracks?

Learning What Customers Want

With billions of devices generating data, businesses are tasked with the onerous job of sifting through the noise to retrieve valuable insights. Thankfully, data analysis is getting simpler—and the rewards for doing so include making customers happier, businesses more competitive, and operations more efficient.

To unlock the potential of the data economy, businesses need only make a few adjustments to their existing operation:

  • Use data tools
  • Maintain a customer relationship management (CRM) system
  • Offer personalization

By implementing a CRM system, businesses can simplify—and personalize—data analysis, which can then be used to provide a stronger relationship with new and existing customers. Data tools—including email surveys, Google Analytics, and even software that monitors social media channels—can provide an edge for enterprises wanting to do better business, which is quickly becoming a game of personalizing products and offerings for customers.

To learn more about the changing landscape of Canadian business, BDC’s full report is available here (registration required).

Canada Needs More Robots

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

To recognize Small Business Week, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) released a comprehensive report examining the shifting demographics and digital disruptions that are impacting today’s labour force.

This report identifies six emerging trends affecting small and medium-sized enterprises in 2017, one of which is the automation of business activities.

From chatbots to drone deliveries, it’s no secret that automation and artificial intelligence are drastically shaping the way business owners realize their potential. But as the demand for everyday robotics increases, are Canadian businesses keeping up with competitors around the world?

Automation in Asia

The BDC report pinpoints a key statistic: According to the International Federation of Robotics, in 2015, South Korea led the global manufacturing industry in deployment of multipurpose robots — which optimized everything from supply chain management to customer service notifications — at approximately 531 per 10000 workers. That number comes ahead of Singapore’s 398, Japan’s 305, and Germany’s 301 (Canada falls somewhere in the middle, with 136 multipurpose robots per 10,000 workers).

Canada Can Catch Up

As the BDC report explains, while nearly every aspect of contemporary Canadian business can be automated, owners need not overhaul their enterprise to achieve optimization goals. In fact, automation only requires three simple ideas to keep in mind, including:

  • Mapping out business processes
  • Involving employees
  • Shopping and asking around

By analyzing how a business runs, Canadian entrepreneurs can determine where automation can best optimize efficiency. And who better to ask how a business runs than its employees, who have invaluable experience at every level of the operation?

To learn more about the changing landscape of Canadian business, BDC’s full report is available here (registration required).

Girls Are The Key to Disruption in the World of Tech

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

The coding world is a man’s world: 80 to 90 percent of code out there has been written by men. This means that the world itself is being designed by men, according to Actua CEO Jennifer Flanagan.

“Coding impacts every day of our lives,” Flanagan said at the Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology in Toronto. “We won’t achieve our innovation potential if we don’t ensure diversity around the table.”

Kids—especially girls—could be the key to the next big tech innovation, she said.

Through experiential learning, Canada’s largest STEM-outreach organization, Actua, teaches foundational skills in science, tech, engineering and math to help kids prepare for careers of the future.

We need women’s perspective for “better research and better products,” Flanagan recently wrote in BetaKit.

“We can no longer explain away women’s participation rates in tech careers by saying that ‘they just aren’t interested’ or ‘that these career types don’t meet the lifestyle preferences of women.’ To do this is to do a disservice, not just to women, but to society as a whole.”

IBM Helping Women Re-Enter the Tech World

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Fifty-two percent of women in science, tech, engineering and math quit their jobs mid-career. This happens for a variety of reasons, ranging from workplace culture to family responsibilities.

A new IBM program is helping to bring them back by restoring lost confidence and teaching new job skills.

The IBM Tech Re-Entry Program is a challenging 12-week internship for experienced technologists who are returning to work after an extended time away. Interns get the chance to work on high-level projects with a senior-level mentor.

In an interview with CNET, Jennifer Howland, executive of IBM’s Pathways Program, said the program helps make women returning to the tech world more employable.

“Most employers don’t look kindly on the fact that someone has not been doing work and someone has taken a career break for 15 to 20 years,” she said.

IBM isn’t the first company to help bring women back into the fold. Several companies in the financial sector—like Goldman Sachs, MetLife, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley—have rolled out similar programs.

Robots Are Coming For (Men’s) Jobs

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Robots are coming for human jobs. It’s no surprise. However, the automation revolution is much more than just an economic problem, argues Laurie Penny in Wired.

“It is a cultural problem, an identity problem, and—critically—a gender problem,” she writes.

The robots are mostly eliminating jobs in farm and factory labor, construction and haulage—in other words, blue-collar jobs typically performed by men.

“Millions of men around the world are staring into the lacquered teeth of obsolescence, terrified of losing not only their security but also their source of meaning and dignity in a world that tells them that if they’re not rich, they’d better be doing something quintessentially manly for money. Otherwise they’re about as much use as a wooden coach-and-four on the freeway.”

Men must change their mindset and be willing to take on jobs in the so-called “pink-collar” industry, she says.

SV Entrepreneurs Flock to Smaller, More Affordable Markets

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Silicon Valley’s reputation as the hub for the world’s most progressive innovators is slipping.

Accusations of sexism, sexual misconduct and the marginalization of women have tarnished the Valley’s shiny reputation, says Silicon Valley consultant Angela Ruth in Entrepreneur.

On top of that, Silicon Valley’s success has lead to exorbitant real estate prices which is, in turn, driving away talent.

The good news is that a lot of smaller markets have the talent and investment potential to someday challenge for the tech throne.

Tech talent is flocking to these seven smaller — and more affordable — U.S. markets, according to Entrepreneur:

Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Startup ecosystem worth $12B
  • Ranked No. 1 in innovation and entrepreneurship by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Tampa, Florida

  • Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment is pumping $2B into the city to prepare it for growth

Huntsville, Alabama

  • 309 percent growth in tech jobs over the past year
  • Nearly 17 percent of the workforce is employed in a science, tech, engineering or math-related job

St. Louis, Missouri

  • Home of the Ameren Accelerator, which aims to help drive innovation in the energy industry

Seattle, Washington

  • Seeing big growth in space startups

Phoenix, Arizona

  • 188 percent growth in tech jobs in the last year

Albany, New York

  • 161 percent growth in tech jobs over the past year
  • Universities supply a well educated talent pool

High Rents Driving Biotech Startups Out of New York and Boston

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Young people aren’t the only ones who can’t afford the rent in New York. Biotech firms are also leaving the Big Apple in search of affordable accommodations outside the city.

Though the city offer numerous benefits to growing companies, lab space is simply too expensive to build and operate, says Andras Forgacs, chief executive of biotech startup Modern Meadow.

“We don’t have the time and we don’t have the capital to be in the real estate development business in New York City,” he told VentureBeat. “That’s not what our investors asked for.”

Modern Meadow would have had to pay $200 million to build its own lab in New York. Instead, it found existing lab space in New Jersey.

It’s a similar story in Boston.

Triple net leases are $78.50 a square foot in Cambridge but drop to just $15 in the outer ring of Boston’s suburbs, according to brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Singapore’s Most-Funded Startups of 2017 (so far)

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Though tech startup investment is in decline across Asia, a new data analysis from Tech in Asia should offer some hope for startups in Singapore looking for funding.

Tech firms have netted nearly $2.7B in the country’s 10 biggest funding deals of 2017 — the bulk going to Uber-rival Grab in the largest single financing deal in the history of Southeast Asia.

In general, transportation, internet infrastructure and fintech firms seem to be attracting the bulk of investments, according to the Tech in Asia Database.

1) Grab, $2B, Logistics/Transportation

2) AirTrunk, $307M, Internet Infrastructure

3) Hooq, $95M, Music and Entertainment

4) Trax, $83.5M, Recognition Tech/Software as a Service

5) TenX, $81M, Fintech

6) Singapore Life, $50M, Fintech

7) CXA, $25M Health/Professional Services

8) Astroscale, $24M, Clean Tech/Space

9) EndoMaster, $14.6M, Health

10) Instarem, $13M, Fintech