Editor's Picks

2015: A Year To Remember For Singapore's Startup Scene

As the year draws to an end, it is only appropriate if we take a look back at some of the trends we noticed in Singapore’s startup scene, especially those in the digital space.

1. The Year Of Online Grocery Delivery Site

PurelyFresh team
PurelyFresh team
HonestBee Team
HonestBee Team

While many might have thought that the online grocery delivery war is over, this year we noticed even more online platforms operating in this space – over 30 of them to be exact. However, two particularly stood out with us: PurelyFresh and HonestBee.

Unlike RedMart, the dominant player in this vertical, PurelyFresh focuses on just fresh produce. The team behind it runs 5 wet and dry markets in Singapore, so customers are guaranteed the freshest produce direct from the wet markets.

HonestBee, on the other hand, has also risen in popularity this year, raising a stunning $15 million in funding to grow its on demand grocery platform beyond Singapore. Unlike RedMart, HonestBee does not hold any inventories, and instead, dispatches runners to pick up grocery orders for customers.

2. The Year Of CashBack

shopback group 2
Shopback team

Year 2014 might be the year of e commerce, and this year, it would definitely be the year of cash back, with two dominant player in this vertical – ShopBack and EBates. The concept has proven to be popular among online shoppers in Singapore – shop as you normally would – but do it through cash back sites and earn additional money back which you can shop further. Other than dedicated cash back sites, we are increasingly seeing banks offering cash backs to their customers too.

3. The Year Of Logistics

Ninjavan
Ninjavan
Codigo team. Image Credit: Facebook
Codigo team. Image Credit: Facebook

With the growth of e commerce, logistics related startups also grew exponentially to help fulfill the logistics demand. Popular startups in this category is Ninja Van, Rocket Uncle and also new rising star FastFast Delivery. Ninja Van is popular among e commerce companies and corporates, and just over a year since its incorporation, Ninja Van has launched a brand new service earlier this month– Ninja Collect. Ninja Collect is a self-service delivery method, allowing customers to collect their parcels from automated parcel lockers strategically located in populous and urban sites, as well as from partner retail shops. It raised $2.5M in funding this year.

FastFast Delivery on the other hand, was launched by the Codigo team, which is also the development team behind popular apps such as Comfort Delgro, McDelivery as well as the DBS Business Class app. With a solid team background, FastFast also manages to attract an angel investment from Elim Chew, the outspoken founder of retail chain 77th Street, as well as Julian Low, cofounder of Zopim, which was acquired by Zendesk.

4. The Year Of On Demand Healthy Food

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Grain’s Menu
Food Matters Singapore
Food Matters Singapore

Another vertical which gained a lot of traction this year was the on demand healthy food delivery site. The dominant player in this space is Grain, which is doing thousands of orders every single day. Another strong contender for this category is Foodmatters, which also delivers on demand healthy food. Earlier last week, Foodmatters shared on its Facebook page that it had delivered 100,000 meals since launch.

Having tried both services, we’d recommend Grain which has better service and tastier food.

5. The Year Of Taxi Booking Apps

Image Credit: Vulcan Post
Image Credit: Vulcan Post

karhoo

2015 marked yet another year of development for taxi apps in Singapore. While taxi app wars has been ongoing since 2013, it is in this year that the government finally legalized taxi booking apps in Singapore. Earlier in November, LTA announced that both GrabTaxi and Hailo Singapore have been given the green light to continue running their taxi-booking mobile apps, with certificates of registrations being awarded to them.

On top of that, we saw a new entrant coming into the market: Karhoo, a 10-month-old New York based startup. We shouldn’t discount Karhoo out just yet – although we haven’t hear much of them since their launch – it is partnering with Singapore’s largest taxi company, ComfortDelGro, which has a 17,000-strong taxi fleet. We expect more news from the company in the new year.

6. The Year Of Carpooling Apps

grabhitch

Ryde-app-for-Singapore-carpooling
Ryde App for Carpooling

On top of taxi booking apps, we also saw the rise of carpooling apps in Singapore this year. Two companies are leading the charge on this vertical: newly launched GrabHitch as well as Ryde.

GrabHitch was announced in November, and is an extension of popular taxi booking app GrabTaxi. The new feature is currently in beta.

“With over half a million private cars in Singapore, there’s a significant pool of vehicles with extra seats for more passengers. Every car has the potential to play a part in improving Singapore’s public transport network and meet with the growing demand of rides each day,” said Anthony Tan, CEO and co-founder of GrabTaxi.

GrabHitch is competing against Ryde, a standalone car pooling app which managed to raise $1.5 million in seed round funding from strategic angel and private investors back in November. Founded by Terence Zou, a Harvard Business School graduate, Ryde currently serves over 10,000 users in Singapore.

7. The Secret Rise Of Gifting Apps

fuzzie

pressie

Many might not notice this, but two gifting apps are battling to dominate this niche in Singapore – Fuzzie and Pressie.

Fuzzie, which won our Vulcan Awards Most Promising Startup To Look Out For In 2016, is a gorgeous app that allows you to easily gift gift cards to anyone through its web and mobile app. It currently features 30+ brand partners in Singapore, and one of its strengths is that it is working with brands that do not have gift cards, providing them with gift cards solutions.

Pressie on the other hand, is a new app that was just launched in Singapore two weeks ago. Pressie, which originates from Hong Kong, also allows you to easily send virtual gifts to your friends. It received an angel investment from the founder of GoGoVan.

8. The Year Of Resurrections

Finally, this year also marks the year of resurrections, notably by startup darling Burpple as well as Perx. The startup scene in Singapore has not heard much from Burpple for the longest time, and decided to come back with a blast with their new $6 Million funding round announcement. Similarly, Perx also announced a million-dollar series A investment earlier this month. The news came after the founding team departed from the company.

Did we miss out any other big news? Do share with us in the comments below!

 

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