Category: In the news

Beacon VC’s Mid Year Update

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In the aftermath of a wild 2021 and the resurgence of Covid-19 in Thailand, 2022 has marked the welcome return of in-person meetings and events for the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia.  On the other hand, 2022 has also seen prices collapse in both the cryptocurrency space and public equity markets, which has created headwinds for startups seeking funding.  This year has already seen a flurry of M&A activity and consolidation within various tech industries, and that is expected to continue as investors become more selective and funding becomes more concentrated.  Turbulent market conditions notwithstanding, Beacon continues to seek new investment opportunities while finding ways to support its portfolio companies and the Thai startup ecosystem through this difficult time.

Portfolio Review: New Investments

Primo – In early 2022, Beacon and Fuchsia VC joined hands to lead a Pre-Series A investment round in Thai marketing technology firm Primo.  Primo provides omnichannel marketing platforms for large enterprises.

Decentralized – In March, Beacon joined Decentralized’s fundraising round. Decentralized is a holding company focusing on direct investments in early stage blockchain companies and digital assets.

Alchemy through Pantera Capital – Beacon co-invested with Pantera Capital into Alchemy. Alchemy provides developers with the tools they need to easily and efficiently create mainstream blockchain applications.

Despite recent volatility in digital asset markets, Beacon continues to invest and seek opportunities to connect with startups who can bridge the gap between traditional finance and DeFi, and which are driving adoption of Web3.0 by the masses.  As the corporate venture arm of KBank, Beacon also looks for opportunities to support KBank’s initiatives in growing beyond traditional banking.


Beacon News and Updates: Research

In addition to supporting KBank’s internal initiatives with research on new trends and technologies, Beacon regularly publishes research to stimulate conversation and share knowledge for the benefit of the Thai startup community.  This year, the Beacon team has explored a wide array of topics in Beacon’s bi-monthly newsletter, including the MetaverseToken Fundraising, and ESG Investing.


Beacon News and Updates: Community Building

A ‘friend of startups’, KATALYST supports the community in three main areas: ecosystem building, embedded payments and services, and strategic collaboration.

A Friend of Startups

Since the beginning of this year, KATALYST has worked with “Creative Talk” to produce the monthly talk series “KATALYST Talk” via ClubHouse, Youtube, and Facebook Live. Opinion leaders and startup owners inside and outside Thailand are invited to exchange ideas and experiences on how to operate businesses. KATALYST Talk has had great feedback from the community, with more than 100 attendees joining each talk.

In June 2022, KATALYST also sponsored workshops at Creative Talk Conference 2022 for Beacon’s portfolio companies, including FlowAccount, Jitta, Cryptomind, Fungjai (Ookbee’s group company), and Digio. The topics ranged from financial planning through smart accounting and financial records to digital asset investment and NFT brand marketing. KATALYST and Beacon also gave opportunities for startups to connect one-on-one and gain insights from investors including Fuchsia VC, Vertex Ventures and Openspace Ventures.

A Gateway to Financial Services and Collaboration

Small businesses often find it difficult to connect to corporations for partnership and collaboration. Speaking in the same language, KATALYST has helped startups to find the right products and services for their needs, and is the first gateway to exclusive collaboration with Kasikorn Group. Examples of projects from this past year include:

FlowAccount: FlowAccount users can gain easy access to commercial loan via K+ application.

Drivehub: Kasikorn Leasing collaborated with Drivehub allowing car rental service providers all over Thailand to offer car leasing at a special rate.

Aspire: KATALYST and Aspire worked together to organize a knowledge sharing webinar on “Cash Flow Management Optimization” to startups in KATALYST’s community.


What to look forward to in the second half of 2022

KATALYST x Microsoft Thailand

KATALYST and Microsoft Thailand will jointly organize business matching between corporates and startups to find the right growth-driving solution through Microsoft Azure Marketplace. Startups joining the project will gain other benefits from Microsoft Thailand such as mentorship from Microsoft Thailand’s CEO and access to Microsoft for Startups. Startups can easily keep up with KATALYST’s activities here.

KATALYST STARTUP LAUNCHPAD 2022

KATALYST STARTUP LAUNCHPAD is an annual 9-week intensive course as part of a research project of the Stanford Thailand Research Consortium, led by Charles Eesley, an associate professor at Stanford University. Last year, 65 teams were selected to join the program. This year, participants will gain access to the Tech Innovation & Entrepreneurship E-Learning course and mentorship session from experts in various industries. The program is a great opportunity for early stage startups to learn and connect to the right people in the industry. Click here for more detail about this program.

 

FoodStory Secures Series B Funding to Further Strengthen the Thai Restaurant Ecosystem

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On May 27th 2021, FoodStory, a leading POS & Restaurant Management System startup, announced that it recently raised Series B funding in a round led by Beacon VC, the venture capital arm of KASIKORNBANK PCL (KBank), with participation from JWD InfoLogistics PCL (JWD). The company plans to use the proceeds to support product development to improve restaurant operation efficiency. Additionally, FoodStory aims to enhance the Thai restaurant ecosystem by turning data into insights for restaurant owners to better understand and optimize their businesses for sustainable development.

FoodStory offers a one-stop solution for various types of restaurants including sit-down restaurants, buffets, coffee shops, and food trucks. Users can get started with a single iPad. The platform also covers dine-in and delivery services management as well as backend operations including integration with accounting systems and FoodStory Market, the company’s own restaurant supply marketplace for purchasing raw ingredients online. FoodStory offers several subscription packages and hardware equipment to support diverse restaurant requirements.

Nowadays, restaurants have greatly adapted to dynamic market conditions and are embracing technology. This aligns with FoodStory’s core mission to constantly develop and increase the efficiency of the system. FoodStory’s vision is to “Leverage Data To Connect Farm to Folk.”  The company is building on its existing POS and restaurant management system capabilities by turning data into insights that enable restaurants to efficiently grow their business.

Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon VC, revealed that “KBank’s core focus is to develop and provide financial technology to serve the needs of all customers and businesses in different sectors. Through Beacon VC’s investment and collaboration with FoodStory, we aim to support small and medium-sized restaurants by improving their access to financial products and funding through data utilization. Despite the uncertainty within the restaurant industry due to the pandemic, Beacon VC believes that FoodStory will play a crucial role in helping restaurant entrepreneurs to survive this crisis, especially as they shift from dine-in to take-out and food delivery. In addition, apart from supporting restaurant operations management, FoodStory’s solution allows restaurants to acquire new customers and improve sales.”

Mr.Tanate Piriyothinkul, Chief Commercial Officer of JWD InfoLogistics PCL, said that “JWD Group foresees the importance and growth potential of the food industry, especially through e-commerce channels, with an exceptional capability to thrive even further. JWD’s investment in FoodStory is one of the e-commerce strategies to accelerate food logistics business through an application platform in order to expand our food logistics to cover B2B, B2C, and C2C segments in the future. This growth will be enabled by cold chain express delivery service as well as an extensive network of temperature-controlled distribution centers and warehouses according to our business plan. We see FoodStory as an exceptional restaurant management platform which has high growth potential due to their business model, technology, and most importantly, the team with a strong vision and deep understanding of the total needs of restaurant businesses.”

Mr.Thagoon Chartsutipol, Founder and CEO of Living Mobile Co., Ltd., revealed that “for the past two years, we have developed the restaurant ecosystem through integration with LINE MAN and Wongnai in order to help restaurants increase their revenue. A year ago, we launched FoodStory Market with the concept of “A Place Where Suppliers Meet Kitchens” to facilitate online purchase of raw ingredients and address the pain points of price fluctuation, inconvenience in physical shopping, and employee fraud. Moreover, FoodStory Market has been fully integrated with the POS Inventory Management, online payment, and E-TAX Invoice modules. In order to empower a comprehensive restaurant ecosystem that connects Farm to Folk, we need a strong financial services partner like KBank and a cold chain logistics expert like JWD to fill these gaps and successfully build on the new form of supply chain business.

About FoodStory
Living Mobile Co., Ltd., also known as FoodStory, is a Thai tech startup which provides POS and restaurant management systems, and a food supply marketplace called “FoodStory Market”. FoodStory has over 25,000 users. FoodStory was established in 2012 and was the winner of True Incube Asia Pacific Mobile App Challenge in 2014 and SME Teetak in 2016 as well as being ranked top in restaurant management category due to the company’s consistent growth. FoodStory previously raised from Wongnai in 2018 and just completed a Series B funding round from Beacon VC and JWD in 2021.

About Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC)

Founded in 2017, Beacon VC is a wholly-owned corporate venture capital fund of Kasikornbank PCL. Beacon VC focuses on strategic investments in early to growth-stage technology startups covering not only financial technology (fintech) but also consumer internet and enterprise technology. Currently, Beacon VC has increased a fund size to $185 million to cover more diverse industries and has invested in several technology startups in Thailand and abroad such as FlowAccount, Jitta, Builk, Grab, Nium, and Aspire.

About JWD Infologistics Public Company Limited (JWD)

JWD provides a complete range of services in logistics and supply chain covering 8 ASEAN countries covering more than 2 million square meters of service capacity. The company has a strong expertise in warehouse management and logistics services including dangerous goods, temperature-controlled goods, automotive and auto parts, and general goods. Other businesses include food supply chain, logistics IT solution and investment.

Contact:

FoodStory
Chanachai Chaipanya
Marketing Director
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +66 89 414 8338

Beacon VC
Suparat Opasyanont
Business Development Manager
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +66 85 139 9374

JWD
Supicha Paowarat
VP Corporate Communications
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +66 94 151 6324

Kasikornbank to support FlowAccount in giving out free online accounting software for KBank SME customers, assisting SMEs to brave the Covid-19 pandemic

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Kasikornbank aims to support Thai SMEs to grow sustainably amidst the Covid-19 pandemic by giving out 1,000 FlowAccount software packages, with a total value of 3 million Baht, to KBank SME customers. This campaign hopes to boost SME’s operation efficiency and awareness of its financial health, thereby increasing the ability to access capital and resilience to tolerate future crises. FlowAccount is an online accounting software startup backed by Kasikornbank’s own venture capital – Beacon VC.

Mr. Pipavat Bhadranavik, Executive Vice President of Kasikornbank, reveals that the recent pandemic significantly affected Thai SMEs’ financial vitality, plaguing their daily operations and disrupting their cash flow. SMEs must be well-equipped with the knowledge of their company’s financial health and make an informed strategy to manage their liquidity. Kasikornbank is, therefore, looking to support its SMEs by offering an easy-to-use online accounting software so that the SME owners can be more efficient and managing their businesses anywhere and anytime.

Kasikornbank will give FlowAccount software to 1,000 KBank SME customers without any charges for one year, totaling in campaign value of 3 million Baht. Kasikornbank is looking to offer this campaign to SMEs in many industries, including but not limited to wholesalers, retailers, service, transportation, and communication.

Mr. Kridsada Chutinanton, Co-founder and CEO of FlowAccount, commented that Kasikornbank has long been the champion of Thai SMEs, allowing the bank to truly understand the pain points of the SMEs in doing accounting and the problems that lax accounting practice can create. FlowAccount is in the right sweet spot to solve those pains. The software is purely cloud-based and will help SME owners to do accounting at ease. By issuing or paying an invoice on FlowAccount, the system will auto synchronize the transaction and book-keep the transaction, then aggregating all the transactions into a summary that the SME owners can use to supplement business decisions – all viewable on the website and mobile phone. The software also shortens the time to do accounting and reduces mistakes compared to doing it on Excel or using pen and paper.

Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon VC, further noted that Beacon VC invested in FlowAccount since 2017. FlowAccount has, over the years, always strived to innovate and develop new ways to serve the needs of SME owners. This collaboration will help the KBank SME customers do better accounting and grow the FlowAccouunt customer base. This mutual benefit between Kasikornbank or its customers and Startup is one of the many objectives that Beacon VC hopes to achieve when making an investment.


Founded in 2015, FlowAccount is an easy-to-use cloud accounting solution designed specifically for Thai small businesses. Our fintech software helps small business owners with invoicing, expense tracking, payroll, and reporting. Our goal is to make world-class software that helps small businesses save time, improve productivity, and ultimately increase their probability of success.

Founded in 2017, Beacon VC is a wholly-owned corporate venture capital fund of Kasikornbank PLC (SET: KBANK), a leading commercial bank in Thailand with the highest mobile penetration and largest SME base. With an initial fund of $30 million, Beacon VC focuses on strategic investments in early to growth-stage technology startups covering not only financial technology (fintech) but also consumer internet and enterprise technology. In 2020, Beacon VC expanded its fund size to $185 million.

Beacon VC Invests in Robowealth, leading Thais toward the Capital Market with Wealth Tech Solutions, targeting 2021 with the Total AuM of 30 Billion Thai Baht.

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Left: Mr. Chonladet Khemarattana, Group CEO of Robowealth. Right: Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon Venture Capital

Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of KASIKORNBANK PLC. announces the Series A investment in Robowealth, a top-notch wealth tech start-up. This investment aims to leverage business strengths of both KBank and Robowealth to drive inclusiveness in the capital market by solving three primary issues that prevent Thais from investing, including the lack of time, lack of knowledge, and lack of capital, with the target of the total investment of 30 billion Thai Baht by 2021.

MrThanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon Venture Capital, said that Beacon VC focuses on investing in high-potential start-ups whose innovations and services can deliver real value to KBank customers through the creation of new financial products or services. While we would normally scout for new investments and find collaboration potentials with the business units, this is the first time that we invest in a start-up that already has a working relationship with KBank. KBank and Robowealth, together with Lu International, launched the application FinVest in late 2020.

Beacon VC announces its investment in Series A round in Robowealth, a top-notch wealth tech start-up in Thailand. Robowealth provides complete solutions for robo-advisory and mutual fund investment. This investment will reinforce strong on-going business collaborations with the company to offer Thais new investment tools and alternative investment products, something that the Thai investment market needs, especially when the interest rates for traditional saving products are low. Robowealth’s outstanding expertise in wealth tech services will help Thais have their investment goals met more easily.

MrChonladet KhemarattanaGroup CEO of Robowealth, reveals that Robowealth Group aims to liberalize the Thai financial industry by providing typical Thai people efficient investment opportunities. Currently, only 5% of Thai from 70 million population invest through mutual funds and stock exchange. Robowealth’s vision lies within the cooperation to build a stable financial ecosystem under the concept of “Empower Future Financial Ecosystem” through the Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) schemes. This ecosystem will ultimately help Thais to achieve financial freedom sustainably.

Presently, Robowealth plays an integral part in developing and offering two prominent investment applications under Robowealth Mutual Fund Brokerage Securities. Both can help Thai people gain access to mutual funds portfolio with only 1,000 baht of minimum investment. By design, each of them focuses on different target groups with distinctive and unique product positionings. Starting with odini, the first robo-advisor in Thailand debuted in 2018, the application targets ordinary people looking for a simple way to invest through automated ready-made mutual funds portfolios. The robo-advisor timely adjust the asset allocation to match with the market condition and customer’s risk appetite. The customer can either make a lump-sum investment amount or pre-specify the monthly contributions (DCA: Dollar Cost Average). Two years after the launch, Robowealth has enhanced the odini with a more premium service under the odini BLACK sub-brand integrated into the existing odini application to serve the mass affluent segment better. The second application is FinVest, which debuted in late 2020 as Thailand’s first curated mutual funds investment application. The investment committee, which consists of fund managers and investment analysts, has the primary responsibility of selecting a set of suitable mutual funds from both the domestic and global investment universe based on a thematic investment framework. Then, these featured funds will be directly served to the customer with the precise and digestible content to make the final investment decision on his own. FinVest is the collaboration among Robowealth, KASIKORNBANK, and Lu International, a world-class fintech company.

Furthermore, Robowealth also provides other services through its subsidiaries, including high-touch wealth management solutions for high-net-worth customers under Robowealth Investment Advisory Securities and professional fintech software development solutions under Codefin company, which is behind the success of various financial institutions.

Mr. Chonladet shares the insight regarding the effect of the COVID-19 situation that Robowealth customers benefit from the investment diversification to global markets. The robo-advisor could provide a decent return by allocating into Chinese and US equities as many tech stocks greatly benefited from the lock-down. The pandemics also encourage more people worldwide to quickly adopt the digital platform, which is the long-term benefit for wealth tech businesses. The Thai financial institution becomes more aware of the inevitable digital transformation, which provides an excellent opportunity for Robowealth to respond to the needs through Business to Business (B2B) cooperation.

Mr. Thanapong added that one of the main interesting characteristics of successful Thai fintech companies is that their business and offering model doesn’t aim to disrupt financial institutions, but instead aim to collaborate with those institutions by joining each parties’ unique strength to add value to customers and synergistically grow.

Mr. Chonladet makes his closing remarks that Robowealth aims to reduce the economic inequality in Thai society as the country faces one of the world’s worst wealth distribution. Although the income distribution is not that severe, the high cost of living leaves typical Thai households not enough money to save or invest, resulting in an always wider wealth gap between the rich and the poor. Finding effective investment channels is still considered a big challenge for those who have a little cash surplus. Therefore, the core principle of Robowealth is to co-create the financial ecosystem, which enables Thais to start investing with minimal funds through convenient, user-friendly, and reliable channels regardless of the service ownership. The service provider could be Robowealth, Robowealth’s business partner, or even any other company. It does not matter which company gains the market share if Thai people can access efficient investment channels. There should be no competitor in helping people to do so. Also, Robowealth strongly supports the promotion of financial literacy to the youth to shape the right perception towards investment, paving the way of becoming successful investors in the future.


About Robowealth Group

Robowealth Group, the digital investment service provider or wealth teach leader, launched the first roboadvisory service in ThailandThe company currently has two applications with authorization from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand, under odini and FinVestWith the strong reputation of delivering highquality services, the company is essentially gaining business partnerships from leading financial institutions and conglomerates in ThailandRobowealth aims to modernize the Thai financial industry to enable every Thai individual to get proper access to an efficient investment opportunity. The companys vision is to empower the future financial ecosystem via both BusinesstoConsumer (B2Cand BusinesstoBusiness (B2Brelationships.

About Beacon Venture Capital

Founded in 2017, Beacon VC is a whollyowned corporate venture capital fund of KASIKORNBANK PLCBeacon VC focuses on strategic investments in early to growthstage technology startups covering not only financial technology (fintechbut also consumer internet and enterprise technologyCurrently, Beacon VC has a fund size of $135 million and has invested in several technology startups such as FlowAccount, Eventpop, Jitta, Grab, InstaReM and Aspire.

Leading Thai payment technology provider Digio raises $4M Series B financing from strategic investors

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Digio, a Thailand-based leading payment technology provider, raises USD 4 million in Series B round to accelerate product and services development. The investors included in this round are Thai interbank payments provider PCC, Beacon Venture Capital, and Private Equity Trust for SME Growing Together 2 with Siam Alpha Equity (SAE) as Trust Advisor. The funding will enable Digio to expand its capacity to provide innovative payment technology for financial institutions and strengthen Thailand’s rapidly growing digital payments infrastructure.  Particularly given the increased uncertainty surrounding the current public health crisis, infrastructure supporting cashless payment plays a pivotal role in enabling remote transactions, both on and offline for consumers and businesses.

Mr. Nopphorn Danchainam, Founder and CEO of Digio, said, “We feel highly privileged to have long-standing trust from PCC and the major financial institutions in Thailand, and today’s investment will allow us to deliver a broader array of payment services to institutions and consumers alike.”

Digio’s products allow major institutions to enable digital payments for consumers and SMEs. In 2019, Digio’s array of payment products processed close to USD 1 billion. The company was recently awarded the Payment Facilitating Services (PFS) license by the Bank of Thailand (BOT) in 2020, which will help it offer new payment services directly to consumers and small businesses. This new license will complement Digio’s existing compliance certifications as the company is also certified for PCI compliance for banks, financial institutions, FinTechs, and other financial services providers.

In collaboration with PCC, Digio recently launched FLite, an innovative low-cost POS terminal which will allow SMEs to securely accept and process contactless credit card payments.  The company has also worked with major Thai financial institutions to facilitate e-invoices and e-payments, culminating in the release of their latest product, MeeBill.  MeeBill allows online and offline retail merchants to issue invoices to customers and collect QR payments via their mobile devices, as well as automatically reconciling the invoice against cash received.

“Our mission is to enable secure and frictionless digital payments in Thailand and the greater Southeast Asian region. With long-standing trust from our partners, we can and will create financial solutions that not only impact businesses but also people’s lives and drive the endless possibility of digital payments,” concluded Mr. Danchainam.

Established in 2012, Digio provides payment hardware and software solutions, such as EDC, mPOS, soft tokens, and payment gateways. The company has three offices in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. While based in Thailand, Digio’s client base covers Asian countries such as Japan, Malaysia, and Myanmar.  Digio has won several public awards for innovation, notably including the Prime Minister Award at ‘Startup Thailand 2017’. Unlike most startup companies, Digio has been profitable since its inception, and will continue to focus on maintaining a sustainable growth philosophy.

About Digio (Thailand)

Digio (Thailand) positions itself as a technology company dedicated to assisting financial institutions and partners with solutions through technology and innovation. Digio offers solutions to create efficiency and in turn create trust for SMEs and consumers.

Contact:

Digio Beacon Venture Capital
Pornprapa Jingkijjanukul

Business Development

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +66 86 7816576

Website: www.digio.co.th

Suparat Opasyanont

Business Development Manager

Email: [email protected]

Tel: +66 85 1399374

Website: beaconvc.fund


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Workmate secures $5.2M Series A funding to organize Southeast Asia’s informal labor economy

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End-to-end staffing platform Workmate (formerly Helpster) announced that it closed a Series A funding round of US$5.2 million, led by Atlas Ventures with participation by Gobi Partners and Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank PLC. (SET: KBANK), with existing investors also participating in the round. The fresh funds will be used to increase investment in sales, grow the technology team, and expand to new cities. The investment brings Workmate’s total funding to US$10 million since its launch in January 2016. Workmate aims to organize the informal workforce at scale in Southeast Asia.

In Southeast Asia, the informal labor sector accounts for more than 50% of the region’s workforce, with approximately US$200 billion in wages paid to informal workers annually. The staffing market for informal labor in the region is expected to double to US$8 billion by 2025. But despite the market’s huge potential, it is still bound to the traditional method of finding work and workers – usually through word of mouth – which means that securing reliable and consistent employment is difficult.

Mathew Ward, CEO and Co-founder of Workmate, is on a mission to change how this market operates. Ward, along with his founding partners, are known for their successful track record of building and exiting multiple tech startups in Southeast Asia, including Admax Network, Ardent Capital, Ensogo, and aCommerce.

“We are automating what traditional manpower agencies would typically offer – by allowing businesses to go directly to workers versus going through a middleman agency that charges up to 30% in fees – and we’re doing it at scale,” explains Ward. “The traditional staffing model is very manual and has very little technology adoption, it hasn’t changed much in 40 years. It’s a big market which is ripe for disruption. This model is gaining traction internationally – even Uber has just announced it launched a staffing solution called Uber Works in the US.”

Workmate aims to fill the same gap in emerging markets like Southeast Asia. Increasingly, more service-oriented, informal jobs are being created in the region, but both workers and businesses are currently underserved by tech solutions which mostly focus on building tools for the professional “white collar” workforce. However, Workmate sees a much bigger opportunity in the informal market as it’s a larger sector of the workforce, and a space where technology can provide real impact by bringing massive efficiency at scale.

For businesses, sourcing consistent, reliable workers can be immensely time-consuming, especially given the lack of data and information available about the workers themselves. On the other hand, workers find themselves without a job, sometimes for weeks at a time, because they can’t find the right match, making it even harder to make ends meet.

This is where Workmate’s end-to-end solutions come into play. All workers in the platform are pre-screened by Workmate before being made available to hire on the platform, ensuring a level of quality not found via a job board. Businesses then request staff through the platform and are instantly matched to workers nearby who have the required experience. They can view each workers’ experience, ratings, and performance history, before confirming which workers they want.  The platform also manages contracts, attendance, time sheets and worker payments to provide a seamless end-to-end solution.

For workers, once they pass Workmate’s screening process, they are shown multiple job offers to choose from every day via the Workmate App. These jobs are tailored to match their skills so they no longer have to go looking for work, as the work comes to them. Workmate also offers workers protection from wage fraud, provides social security, and has upcoming plans to offer insurance and access to financial support. This not only fulfils the basic needs of informal workers; it makes the entire industry more attractive as a viable livelihood pathway for more people than ever before.

“Workmate is building something unique in this region. We are not a job board or simply a connector – we are an end-to-end staffing solution that empowers and protects workers in the region while helping businesses ensure a steady flow of manpower to keep their engines running at full capacity,” said Ward.

Maxim Shkvaruk, Director at Atlas Ventures said, “We believe there is latent demand for a better staffing solution in the blue collar space, and Workmate is the answer. We have been very impressed with Mat and his team as well as the company’s growth, and we are very excited to support the team in their journey to help millions of workers in Southeast Asia gain economic freedom by providing them with access to jobs with better pay and maximum flexibility”

MrThanapong Na RanongManaging Director of Beacon VC, added: “Helping Kasikornbank provide better financial services to the underserved population is among our core focuses. We are impressed by Workmate’s insights and strong commitment to push for betterment of informal workers, as well as the strong growth Workmate has had in Thailand and Indonesia. We want to ensure KBank can understand and serve these workers better as they work towards achieving life aspirations and financial health.”

Workmate is headquartered in Singapore, with offices in Bangkok, Jakarta and Bali, and has plans to expand further in 2020. Some of the platform’s key early customers include aCommerce, Flash Express, JD Central, Taco Bell, Lazada and Chilindo in Thailand, while in Indonesia it supports Ismaya Group, Grab, NinjaVan, Kopi Kenangan, and STOQO. In 2018, the platform also delivered more than 1,000 workers to the Asian Games held in Jakarta and Palembang.

Workmate (formerly Helpster) is an on-demand staffing platform that provides businesses with instant access to qualified personnel for temporary and/or contract hiring needs. Operating in Indonesia and Thailand, it provides informal workers with a fast and effective way to make money. It’s an end-to-end, technology-driven solution that takes care of worker screening, attendance management, payments, and more. Workmate was co-founded by Mathew Ward and John Srivorakul.


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Beacon VC invests in NYCA Partners’ third fund

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Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank PLC. (SET: KBANK), invests in NYCA Partners’ third venture capital (VC) fund. NYCA ranked as the third most active financial technology (fintech) VC fund by CB Insights in 2018. The fund brought in an investment of US$210 million from a global network of 21 institutional investors and notable figures in fintech and financial services industry.

Founded in 2014 by a former President of Visa, Mr. Hans Morris, NYCA invests in companies where technology creates a distinct competitive advantage in financial services spanning from banking, payments, and investing, to insurance. NYCA is well-known for its hands-on approach. Over the past five years, NYCA Partners has assembled a remarkable group of 55 Limited Partners Advisors who help in analyzing prospective investments and provide deep assistance and expert advice to their portfolio companies to help entrepreneurs become more successful.

MrThanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon VC, said“The investment marks our first investment outside of Southeast Asia. NYCA is led by a team of former C-level executives from major financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and Visa. We are impressed with the team’s ability to leverage their financial services experience to uniquely select and invest in companies that complement the existing financial infrastructure. Through the collaboration, we will bring innovation from the fintech ecosystem worldwide to Thailand, insights from NYCA’s global network of investors and advisors to KBANK, and portfolio management best practices from NYCA to Beacon VC.”

Mr. Hans Morris, Managing Partner of NYCA Partners, said: “NYCA is delighted to collaborate with Beacon VC to bring leading fintech companies from around the world to Thailand. We meet innovators in all stages, early and growth, and we are eager to unearth the next disruptor in all the many corners of financial services. By connecting our knowledgeable investors and advisors with fintech entrepreneurs, we aim to create a symbiotic relationship that enables a more efficient and empowering financial system for all of us.”

NYCA is the fourth VC fund investment made by Beacon VC, following Southeast Asia-based fintech fund Dymon Asia Ventures, Singapore-based growth-stage fund Vertex Ventures, and Thailand-based education technology accelerator StormBreaker Venture. Additionally, Beacon VC has actively made direct investments in startups across Southeast Asia, including Southeast Asia’s fast-growing neobank application Aspire Financial Technologies, global cross-border payment company InstaReM, and ride-hailing and financial services unicorn Grab.

NYCA Partners is a leading venture capital fund focused on connecting innovative companies to the global financial system. NYCA’s rich experience and deep connections in both finance and technology give it a unique perspective and facility to help entrepreneurs transform payments, credit models, digital advice, and financial infrastructure. NYCA strives to form truly collaborative partnerships, offering capital and expert advice. Some of NYCA’s notable investments include a consumer credit unicorn Affirm, a micro-investing application Acorns, and a business payment and credit network Fundbox.


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e27 (English), DealstreetAsia (English)

Beacon VC participates in $32.5 million Series A round of Aspire, Southeast Asia’s leading SME neo banking platform

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Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank PLC. (SET: KBANK), participates in US$32.5 million Series A funding round of Aspire Financial Technologies Holding, Inc. (Aspire). Beacon VC joins the pool of international investors including Y Combinator, MassMutual Ventures SEA, Insignia Ventures Partners, Hummingbird Ventures, Picus Capital. KBANK and Aspire aim to work together to digitize banking to small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and online merchants in Thailand through the investment.

Aspire is Southeast Asia’s leading SME neo banking platform. It is building a scalable marketplace banking infrastructure that leverages third-party financial service providers to create a unique digital banking experience customized to SMEs’ needs.

AspireAccount, Aspire’s flagship product targeted at digital merchants and startups across the region. It offers an instant credit limit for daily business expenses, a virtual B2B payment acceptance and other tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow. It can be opened online in just a few clicks. A business credit card is next in line. It will be available and linked to each business account this year. Aspire currently operates across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon VC, said: “Banking to the underbanked population and SMEs is one of the core focus of Beacon VC’s investment thesis. We are impressed with Aspire team’s ability to execute and expand the business to four countries within only one and a half year. Their background in e-commerce allows them to truly understand merchants’ pain points.
With Aspire, online merchants and SMEs can access financial services to operate their businesses through their mobile phones.”

Mr. Andrea Baronchelli, Co-Founder and CEO of Aspire, said: “With a mutual goal of creating a unique digital banking experience to customers, Aspire will leverage KBANK’s infrastructure to offer a unique financial experience to customers of Aspire and KBANK. KBANK has the largest SME customer base in Thailand, but a number of SMEs still lack access to funding and customized banking services. Aspire hope to offer services, including working capital loans, digitized merchant-supplier payments, and remittance services to facilitate KBANK customers through this investment and collaboration.”
Aspire represents the eighth direct investment by Beacon VC. Its most recent investments include Thailand-based wealthtech company Jitta, Southeast Asia’s leading cross-border payment company InstaReM, and ride-hailing and financial services unicorn Grab. The investment in Aspire will be used to scale the company’s operations across Southeast Asia, including Thailand.

 

 

 

Aspire operates a neo banking platform. It is serving a new generation of internet businesses with a mobile-first digital account across Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. AspireAccount offers an instant credit limit for daily business expenses and tools to help SMEs manage their cash flow effectively. It can be opened online in just a few clicks. Founded in January 2018 by former Lazada executives, the company graduated from the world’s leading startup accelerator Y Combinator in Winter 2018 batch.

 


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Beacon VC leads seed funding for leading Thai rental properties management platform Horganice

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Beacon Venture Capital (Beacon VC), the corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank PLC. (SET: KBANK), announced its investment into a seed financing round of Horganice, a leading rental properties management platform in Thailand. The funding will enable Horganice to accelerate customer acquisition as well as adding new services to digitize rental properties, propelling Thailand into a digital era.

Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Beacon Venture Capital, announced that “Beacon VC has invested into a seed financing round into Horganice, a startup that provides rental properties management technology for apartments, dormitories, and markets, for an undisclosed amount. Beacon VC’s investment is not only an opportunity for Horganice to build technical capability, but also an opportunity to collaborate with KBank in order to acquire new customers and leverage innovative financial services, such as payment systems, to provide fast, efficient, and convenient product offerings to Horganice’s customers, especially those outside of Bangkok which are Horganice’s target market.”

Horganice represents the seventh direct investment and the first seed round investment by Beacon VC. Its most recent investments include Thailand-based wealthtech company Jitta, Southeast Asia’s leading cross-border payment company InstaReM, and ride-hailing and financial services unicorn Grab.

MrTanawit Tonekunya, CEO and Co-founder of Horganice, said, “We have already built a great rapport and been enjoying a number of productive collaborations with KBank. Our mission is to bring property management in Thailand into the new digital era and enable a carefree life for both owners and tenants alike. Today’s investment from Beacon VC will help us deliver that promise and move one big step closer to our mission”

The partnership with KBANK will enable Horganice to offer seamless financial services to tenants, property managers, and property owners, leveraging KBank’s leadership in digital banking. Collaboration initiatives which have already gone live this past year include online bill payments and new loan offerings. KBANK and Horganice have also been closely working together to bring knowledge on smart property management in the digital era to small and medium businesses (SMBs) across Thailand.

Horganice has had great reception from the market and is now serving around 3,000 properties, covering more than 130,000 rooms across almost every province in Thailand.  The company was founded by a group of aspiring young entrepreneurs and has received many national awards from notable organizations, such as the Winner Award of Startup Thailand Pitching Challenge Chiang Mai in 2017.  The company initially started out providing management software to university dorm owners before extending their product offerings to include cloud-based internet of things (IoT) hardware solutions and expanding coverage to wider customer segments, including hospital dorms and markets.

Established in 2015, Horganice offers both smart property management software and hardware-based automation products that reduce management costs and allow dorm owners to run their business easily and efficiently.


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Beacon VC leads $6.5 million investment in Jitta, bolstering Thailand’s innovative WealthTech solutions

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Beacon VC, a corporate venture capital arm of Kasikornbank (SET: KBANK), leads a funding round of $6.5 million for Jitta, Thailand’s leading WealthTech startup that offers high-tech solutions for investors worldwide. The funding round, which is the biggest pre-series A round for a Thai startup, will help promote innovation in the country’s WealthTech industry and prepare Jitta for global expansion.

Mr. Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director, Beacon Venture Capital, said, “Beacon VC sees a lot of growth potential for wealth-management technology, or WealthTech, as it plays an increasingly important role amidst low interest rates. Jitta has exhibited the most outstanding capability to develop such technology, with its proprietary stock-analysis algorithm that’s been proven to help investors beat the market in the long run, as well as a steadily growing user base. The expertise of Jitta’s co-founders and team and, particularly, their strong commitment to bring genuine value to their customers give us confidence that Jitta will be able to transform the industry and achieve tremendous growth.”

“Jitta is one of the very few Thai startups with a highly scalable product, meaning it can launch and solve the same problem in any foreign market in a very quick and efficient manner. We believe this local startup star has all the potential to bring about an investment phenomenon that hugely benefits the society as well as putting Thailand’s startup community on the world’s center stage,” Mr. Thanapong added.

Beacon VC is one of Thailand’s most active venture funds, with a portfolio of 5 startups in both Thailand and overseas. The firm focuses on investing in high-potential startups that can deliver real value to KBANK’s customers or can contribute to the bank’s business expansion.

This new investment round, led by Beacon VC, marks the biggest pre-series A funding for a Thai startup to date. Beacon VC will support Jitta in expanding its services in Thailand and abroad, enabling broader access to Jitta’s simple-yet-effective investment solutions so more people can build long-term wealth with minimal effort, which is in line with KBANK’s direction.

Mr. Trawut Luangsomboon, CEO & co-founder, Jitta, said, “Our vision is to make sure that investors benefit the most from what we do. We develop technology to help people access highest-quality investment information so they can achieve better returns efficiently and effortlessly. Through this partnership with Beacon VC, who not only funds us but also opens doors to more opportunities, we can raise our innovative capabilities and become a leading WealthTech company. To do that, we have plans to hire more developers to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into our technology. We’ll also make accessible stock-analysis data of 95% of the world’s stocks from 16 territories. Lastly, we’re getting ready to launch a new service and expand it to Singapore and India this year.”

Jitta is a leading WealthTech startup in Thailand with a strong development team. The company has built unique big data technology to analyze business financials and automates portfolio management based on Warren Buffett’s value investing approach: “buy a wonderful company at a fair price.” Jitta’s stock-ranking algorithm, dubbed Jitta Ranking, boasts index-beating backtested return. Consequently, a number of asset management firms have offered the Jitta Ranking investment strategy to their clients. There is a total of Bt2.2 billion worth of assets managed using this strategy.

“Additionally, we’re launching a new service called Jitta Wealth, a technology-based fund that uses the Jitta Ranking strategy and aims to provide index-beating returns in the long run. This long-term investment alternative will be operated by Jitta Wealth Asset Management, currently in the process of obtaining a private fund license from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and will tentatively begin operating in the second quarter of this year. We believe Jitta Wealth will receive a lot of interest from retail investors, due to the fuss-free service, the low management fee of 0.5% per year and fair performance fee of 10% of the profits, and better returns through the use of technology. Investors can also diversify their investments across Thailand, Vietnam, and the U.S. with ease as everything can be done online, making it simpler for anyone to invest,” Mr. Trawut concluded.

According to the BCG Global Asset Management 2018 report, global assets under management (AUM) reached $79.2 trillion in 2017, growing at 12%, the strongest rate in a decade thanks to growth in China and the U.S. Meanwhile, in Thailand, total AUM was about $190 billion, growing at 7.6%, and has been increasing every year. This suggests strong demand for asset management services, especially WealthTech alternatives that cost less, help diversify risks, and deliver higher profits in the long run—the perfect answer to modern investors’ needs.

Founded in January 2014, Jitta is a Thai WealthTech startup whose mission is to develop technology allowing investors worldwide to access quality investment insights that help them make profitable decisions, earning better returns through simpler methods. Jitta’s technology include Jitta.com, a fundamental analysis platform covering stock markets in 16 countries with over 200,000 users in 128 countries, and Jitta Wealth, an automated stock investment platform that uses Jitta Ranking strategy to deliver higher returns at lower fees and risks. The Jitta Ranking strategy has been used by partnered asset management firms to manage over Bt2.2 billion worth of assets.


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