By: Judith Balea
The Philippine startup scene is young. But no doubt it’s starting to get the attention of investors overseas.
That’s made evident by a number of funding rounds and exits that came this year. The biggest of them all: the initial public offering (IPO) of Xurpas – among the earlier generations of homegrown Philippine tech companies that startups today very well look up to.
Awash with innovative ideas and serious talent, young and promising startups also gained their fair share of attention as they started to foray into other markets.
Without further ado, Tech in Asia brings you the list of Philippine startups that got the biggest funding amounts in 2014:
PayrollHero is using the funds to further develop its services and finance its expansion overseas – it just started a charter client program in Singapore as part of its official launch in the country.
The startup is challenging traditional payroll systems by allowing companies that have employees who work remotely to clock in and out using facial recognition or GPS location. Its service works on an iPhone, iPad, or any device with a web cam.
The company offers discounts and cashbacks to consumers using its NFC technology-enabled tag, and these rewards can be used for future purchases. ZAP also benefits businesses by allowing them to gauge consumer spend, track consumer data, and market their products and services in a targeted way.
ZAP plans to expand to Thailand and Indonesia by the first quarter of 2015.
A migrant-focused remittance service based in the Philippines and California, Ayannah deploys two main products for unbanked overseas workers: Sendah, a B2C gift remittance service that targets the 10 million Filipinos working overseas; and Sendah Direct, a B2B payment platform that distributes prepaid mobile phone credits, online game credits, and microinsurance products.
Sendah boasts 50,000 total users and Sendah Direct has already served more than nine million customers through its network of over 7,000 distributors. The company’s expansion roadmap includes Indonesia, India, Nigeria, Honduras, and Guatemala.
In August, online real estate marketplace ZipMatch closed a second seed round for a total of US$550,000. According to the company, this figure includes reinvestments from 500 Startups and IMJ Investment Partners. New investors include NetPrice CEO Teruhide Sato and Alps Venture co-founder Dirk Van Quaquebeke.
The money will be used to hire key personnel; develop existing products and create new ones for both ends of the marketplace – developers and home buyers; expand into more types of real estate content; and orient its products and services to a wider swath of the Philippines.
Four Eyes offers much lower prices than traditional brick-and-mortar opticians and chains. Apart from this, it allows virtual try-ons for glasses on its site, as well as the ability to try on glasses in one’s home.
The company just launched a new collection of glasses and appointed Rajo Laurel as brand ambassador. It also soft-launched its Singapore website in November.
Ritmo Learning Lab
Also in September, techie teaching tool Ritmo Learning Lab raised US$60,000 in a second seed round participated in by a mix of foreign and local investors.
The startup with a social twist developed music-based learning modules for Filipino kids branded Joomajam.
However, instead of the classic pre-school songs we already know like Twinkle, Twinkle andHumpty Dumpty, Joomojam makes use of Original Pilipino Music or OPM in bilingual format for e-learning. The songs are accompanied by lesson plans with recommended activities.
The company is in the process of refining its iOS and Android apps.
In October, mClinica, a mobile platform catering to the pharmaceutical industry, obtained an undisclosed amount from 500 Startups, IMJ Investment Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.
The funds will fuel its expansion in Southeast Asia, its priority market where pharmacies are “highly fragmented” and industry data is “scarce.”
mClinica uses mobile technology to connect drug companies, their distributors, pharmacies, and patients. It works this way: patients who visit any one of the pharmacies on the platform can avail of discounts on medicines by simply providing their mobile phone numbers. Pharmacies must send the transaction details to the platform to get reimbursed by the drug companies. The pharmacies also enrol the patients into a program that helps them better understand their health conditions and reminds them to refill when they’re running low on supply.
In the Philippines, where the poor have limited access to health care and often must choose food over medicine, the discounts are a big help. The discounts also act as incentive for patients to adhere to their doctors’ prescriptions.
According to the startup, its site’s 1.5 million registered shoppers are now making an average of 35,000 transactions per month, resulting in about 23,000 monthly deliveries.
CashCashPinoy figured in a controversy this year over allegations it was selling fake luxury goods.
In December, mobile content and services provider Xurpas’ US$30.4 million IPO made the biggest headlines not just in the Philippine tech and startup scenes, but also among investor groups.
Investors scrambled for a piece of the company, sending its share price to the ceiling in its first trading day. It was one of the best IPO performances in the Philippines to date, and its share price has been trending upward since then.
Xurpas’ debut was much-anticipated, thanks to the company’s inspiring growth story. The IPO was the first time the company raised funds – ever. It bootstrapped all the way to become one of the largest in its category in terms of revenue.
Xurpas develops an array of products such as casual games that telcos in the Philippines offer their subscribers. It also creates proprietary platforms for the telcos, other companies, and government agencies. These platforms include call/SMS/data bundles, mobile airtime credit transfers, and various forms of mobile commerce such as raffle promos and information-on-demand.
Xurpas plans to use the IPO proceeds to enter other markets in the region.
Also in December, Xurpus put its IPO funds to good use by acquiring a stake in game development studio, Altitude Games. Xurpas bought a 21.7 percent stake in the company for an undisclosed sum. Altitude Games is responsible for sentai running game Run Run Super V.
In March, Altitude Games also received US$275,000 in seed funding from Xurpas founder Nix Nolledo, Level Up! Games co-founder Philip Cahiwat, and several other investors.