Slow and steady wins the race for this SG data startup

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Hello reader,

In case you haven’t heard, the theme of our flagship conference this year is “Southeast Asia: A Bright Spot in the Tech World.” We intend to show how the region has emerged as a silver lining amid the dark clouds of the current macroeconomic environment.

Meiro is one of the companies that have contributed to this silver lining. The Singapore-based data startup reached profitability just two years after its founding, and its leadership team believes in a model of constant reinvestment instead of gunning purely for maximum profits.

All this has created a company that looks and feels set for long-term, sustainable growth. Read on to find out more.

Today we look at:

The Singapore-based data startup that’s growing at its own pace A change at the top for fintech firm Spenmo Other newsy highlights such as Dat Bike’s partnership with HSBC and Tonik Financial’s… financials Premium summary Trust the process

Image credit: Timmy Loen

I recently read a lecture that author C.S. Lewis delivered at King’s College, University of London in 1944. Titled “The Inner Ring,” it talked about how all of us – at various stages of life – desire to be accepted into the “inner ring” of whatever social group(s) matters to us at the time.

In the lecture, one line resonated particularly strongly with me: “Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.”

I hope I’m not reading it wrong, but this points out the importance of maintaining one’s self-esteem and dignity amid the pursuit of being welcomed to the inner sanctum – which I think is a really valuable message to keep in mind.

To extrapolate a little bit from that quote, I think it’s also fair to say that everyone takes their own path through life, learning and doing things in their own unique ways – and that’s great.

We should all do what’s best for ourselves, even if it goes against the grain. For example, in the startup world, it’s usually the big funding rounds that make the news, but taking investor money doesn’t have to be the norm for every company.

Just ask Meiro, which has done pretty alright for itself without a single cent of VC funding thus far.

The lowdown: Meiro provides a customer data platform that combines information from multiple online and offline touch points – such as social media channels, websites, and other avenues – to create a centralized database. This is used to build an identity graph that helps Meiro’s clients create a personalized marketing strategy. Profitability is not the be-all and end-all: The firm focuses on increasing revenue to then reinvest into the business and its growth. “We invest throughout the year so that we end the year with around zero [profit],” explains CEO Jana Marlé-Zizková. A strategic partner: Meiro is now looking for investor(s), but it’s not just about the money. “Some startups agree to an investor’s conditions just to survive. We are stepping into this discussion as partners with our investors,” says Marlé-Zizková.

Read more: Profitable SG data startup banked on founders’ previous firm for funds

Startup spotlight New guy in charge at Spenmo

Image credit: Timmy Loen

Singapore-based fintech firm Spenmo has appointed Justin Choi as its new CEO, replacing co-founder Mohandass Kalaichelvan, who will now act as an advisor at the company.

Credentials: A graduate of Stanford University and Columbia Business School, Choi has occupied leadership positions at firms such as Gojek, Coinbase, and CVC Capital Partners. He has also worked for Microsoft and Seaport Capital. Brief: Choi will be leading the firm’s executive team, which includes newly appointed chief product officer Jo-ann Chung, who was assigned the post in January this year. Recent allegations: Recently, Spenmo’s Indonesian subsidiary was hit with rumors regarding the embezzlement of US$895,000, which was initially intended for two acquisitions. However, the company’s ex-CPO Andika Prasetya has since denied this.

See also: The key players in Singapore’s thriving fintech space (update)

SYNC 2023: Climate Tech Connect with climate tech’s best-in-class speakers and thought leaders

SYNC is back this year with a first-of-its-kind gathering that spotlights Asia’s climate tech leaders. Mark your calendar for August 21, 2023 and join us at the iconic Gardens by the Bay in Singapore for our annual tech summit.

Meet and mingle with industry pioneers and game-changing visionaries such as Jonah Goldman, founding partner of Breakthrough Energy, as they discuss how to successfully drive sustainability and the future of climate tech in Asia.

Want to take part in this exclusive event? Find out more and apply for an invitation here. Submit your entry to snag a ticket and hop on board SYNC 2023: Climate Tech today!

Quick bytes

1️⃣ Here comes Dat Bike Dat Bike, an e-motorcycle manufacturer in Vietnam, has partnered with HSBC in the country, a move that will help the former digitalize its financial operations and expand to overseas markets.

The partnership will allow Dat Bike to increase the automation rate of its accounting system, saving processing time and minimizing human errors, according to a statement.

2️⃣ Tonik up Tonik Financial, the company behind Philippines-based Tonik Digital Bank (TDB), reported a 5.7x increase in net interest income to US$6.2 million in 2022, according to financial statements obtained from VentureCap Insights.

The fintech firm also logged total comprehensive losses of US$37.6 million in 2022, widening 40.3% from the year prior. Its total expenses for the year reached US$32.2 million, nearly doubling the figure from 2021.

3️⃣ Sunny side up Sunrate, a Singapore-based digital payment platform, has secured series D-1 funding in a round led by Prosperity7 Ventures – a growth fund under Aramco Ventures, with participation from SoftBank Ventures Asia, which was recently bought out of SoftBank Group.

The amount raised has not been publicly disclosed.

4️⃣ Crypto: enabled HSBC will now allow its customers to buy and sell Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange-traded funds (ETFs) listed on the Hong Kong exchange.

The bank has recently listed crypto ETFs on its Easy Invest mobile app, allowing traders to access Bitcoin and Ethereum futures. These ETFs operate as securities and are based on derivative contracts that are traded on commodity exchanges.

5️⃣ Gen AI strikes again Reka, a company that creates generative AI models for various kinds of data, has secured US$58 million in a funding round led by DST Global and Radical Ventures.

Emerging out of stealth mode, Reka was established by former researchers from Google DeepMind, Baidu, and Meta, who have contributed to technologies like Gopher, Bard, and AlphaCode.


Winston Zhang

Come, and tell the world your story.

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