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This article was published on July 7, 2014

E-commerce is a hot topic as 12 startups vie for investor interest at JFDI’s latest demo day

E-commerce is a hot topic as 12 startups vie for investor interest at JFDI’s latest demo day
Kaylene Hong
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Kaylene Hong

Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in Kaylene Hong was Asia Reporter for The Next Web between 2013 and 2014, based in Singapore. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. Stay in touch via Twitter or Google+.

Singapore-based incubator JFDI Asia is popular among startups in Southeast Asia — after all it is a member of Techstar‘s Global Accelerator Network and arguably the premier accelerator in the region.

In a first for JFDI this year, it is running three installments of its 100-day bootcamp programs. In total, 353 teams applied to the Class of 2014A that commenced in March, with 13 startups selected. This was eventually narrowed down further to the final 12 startups that presented their ideas to press and investors who attended the program’s demo day today. Each startup received a S$25,000 (US$19,650) cash investment and mentoring services.

In another first for JFDI, this accelerator program saw the involvement of Singapore Infocomm Investments, the investment arm of government agency, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, which played a part in the selection of teams and will help to connect these startups to various early-stage investors. This came after it took part as a key investor in JFDI’s S$2.7 million (US$2.1 million) funding announced back in March, and as the Singapore government embarks on an aggressive drive to build 500 high-growth tech startups in the city-state over five years.

JFDI says that more than 60 percent of its graduate startups move on from the program to raise $500,000 – $800,000 or more from angel and seed investors.

The startups in JFDI’s Class of 2014A spanned a wide range — but e-commerce was the hottest topic, with one-quarter of the teams zooming in on various aspects to facilitate better online buying and selling.

Storyroll (Bringing micro-video to e-commerce)

This team heralds all the way from Lithuania, and has come knocking on doors in Asia because of the opportunities the four founders see in the region. Its mobile app (now available on Android) helps small e-commerce businesses create videos to showcase their products, no matter how amateur they are, by imposing structure on video creation and editing.

All users have to do is capture video shots that follow a given storyboard, and Storyroll will stitch them into a looped micro-video, which can be uploaded and embedded in their e-commerce stores. The startup is also aiming to integrate with eBay, Shopify, Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, among others, so users can share their micro-videos there too. British fashion online retailer ASOS arguably pioneered the catwalk video in its online catalog, and Storyroll is hoping to also eventually introduce such a format.

Celuv (Flipboard for fashion shopping)

This Korean startup touts itself as Flipboard for fashion shopping — it is an m-commerce aggregator in the form of an app (currently on Android) that lets users browse and then tap through to the site to buy anything that catches their fancy. The team says that it doesn’t make sense for online fashion shops, particularly the small operators, to offer their own apps, so it steps in to bring multiple stores into a single “virtual mall” on its mobile app. It also gamifies the shopping process by displaying two items at a time and asking the users to choose the one they like better.


“What Flipboard and Instapaper do for news, we do for fashion shopping,” the startup says. There are plans to launch an iOS app.

Stylhunt (Search for social media online stores)

This startup from Thailand aims to address an issue pertinent in emerging markets, where consumers shop online predominantly through Facebook and Instagram and need a way to search for stores that operate on social media. Google isn’t optimized for social media content and doesn’t return relevant search results. What Stylhunt does is aggregate thousands of such merchants and rank them according to popularity.

The shops are presented in a Tinder-like user interface on the desktop and a responsive mobile site. Shoppers are able to save favorite retailers and products to a wish list or collect visual bookmarks for future reference, and can share their collections with friends. Stylhunt says it currently has over 10,000 active users.

Quickly (Email productivity tool)

Quickly is an Indian startup that suggests options to automate repetitive tasks that users perform in response to emails. All incoming emails are analyzed and any triggers detected are underlined so the user sees a list of suggested actions pop up based on the relevant data, such as creating to-do tasks or setting up meetings. All the user then needs to do is approve or reject the suggestion.

It is essentially like IFTTT but for email — and despite the more complicated business logic involved, is touted as an integration tool that doesn’t require high levels of technical skills to set up. What’s more, Quickly’s algorithm learns from its users’ past behavior, so it becomes smarter the more you use it.

Wikasa (Slidecast creation, publication and sharing)

Founded by a team of Indonesians, Wikasa lets presenters create and share slidecasts from a capture of their live presentations. Speakers can record their presentation in front of an audience — and what Wikasa does is capture the slide transitions during the presentation, sync the slides with the audio track from the video, and create a slidecast that it is instantly saved and uploaded to a user’s Wikasa profile.

“This enables speakers to amplify the impact of their talk — to share with a world-wide audience instantly and bring engagement with less time lag between the actual presentation to global availability,” the Wikasa team says.

Appknox (Mobile app vulnerability detection)

Appknox targets mobile app developers by carrying out regular security audits of their apps. The startup did some research that showed 80 out of the top 100 apps on the world’s major app stores have security vulnerabilities, but developers only tend to react when a data theft occurs or a third-party hacker raises an alarm bell. Appknox scans mobile apps automatically for security flaws, before and after they are released, with a focus on data loss prevention, snooping, man-in-the-middle content and code injection.


Appknox offers developers the service using a tiered subscription model. Users get automated reports that not only reflect a score card of security vulnerabilities, but include suggestions for developers and threat scenarios for managers.

Kallfly (On-demand virtual call center marketplace)

Philippines startup Kallfly connects businesses with home-based call center agents. It is essentially an oDesk for call center agents. The team notes that in the Philippines alone, there will be 1.3 million call center agents by 2016 commuting for hours just to get to work, but it is using WebRTC technology, which enables phone calls in any web browser, to allow them to work from home.

Kallfly acts as a virtual marketplace for dynamic pricing of agents, with bidding for hourly rates, but it doesn’t end at that. Businesses can upload their script, grant access and launch a selected number of call center agents, while agents can get access to these resources to do their work.

Codetoki (Helping companies hire developers)

This is another Philippines startup that seeks to help companies hire programmers more efficiently. Codetoki transforms traditional job requirements into badges that developers can earn via tasks including answering multiple-choice questions or carrying out programming challenges. It solves the issue of companies trying to determine a right fit just by looking at a potential developer’s resume.


What’s more, it also allows developers (job applicants) to know what skills they need to qualify for a job. Developers can also take a certification exam for $22 to become verified Codetoki users and given priority over other applicants. Philippines is Codetoki’s first market — it now has over 3,000 registered users from 174 schools in the country. It plans to expand to the surrounding countries in Southeast Asia after it reaches profitability in the Philippines.

Grafyt (An Airbnb for real estate rentals)

Grafyt actually describes itself as an Uber for property rentals, but it looks more like an Airbnb instead. The platform helps to match tenants and landlords in Singapore, bypassing traditional property agents to carry out tasks that include coordinating viewings, setting prices and recommending legal agreements.

Essentially, instead of passing leads to agents in an online setting, Grafyt wants to be the agent. Its booking fee amounts to about 7 percent of the entire rental amount for each transaction.

Glints (Pre-LinkedIn for youths)

LinkedIn can be rather daunting for young undergraduates who have very little work experience to show in their profile. In steps Glints, a Singapore-based platform that lets youths develop and display career skills that help them to apply for internships, and eventually a full-time entry-level job after graduation.


Glints isn’t only a LinkedIn copycat for young job seekers — instead the startup says that it fills a gap that LinkedIn fails to address, by providing opportunities such as internships and skill certifications. Eventually, the team may introduce an export function to port over a user’s profile from Glints to LinkedIn.

Arena (Quantitative metrics to determine work promotions)

Battle it out for promotions in the Arena — a desktop app that automatically classifies every minute an employee spends working on the computer. The collected data is then indexed and tabulated in a gamified format that compares employees to their peers, in turn allowing managers to determine top performers via quantitative metrics. The startup is kicking off its business at legal firms in Singapore, as the law industry still operates on an hourly-based billing system.

If this seems Big Brother-like, the Arena team says that employees can select what activities they want to report to their bosses — that is, managers can see that you spent 50 percent of your time working on relevant tasks on the computer, but the other 50 percent can remain unknown (though it definitely isn’t hard to hazard a guess as to what kind of time-wasters employees turn to when they are bored at work). However, given that promotions can still be quite subjective, Arena may at most act as a complement to traditional appraisals.

MediaLink (A PR marketplace in Asia)

Indian startup MediaLink wants to be a Muck Rack for Asia — by connecting businesses, journalists and sources. It claims to help small businesses get more mileage out of their PR spend by pitching to targeted media lists, while also helping journalists to reach out to relevant industry sources.

MediaLink is employing a subscription-based model as its main revenue driver, with the basic package starting at $200 per month, while the premium package targets multi-brand businesses and costs $1,000 a month. The platform will be free for journalists. MediaLink is planning to first establish its presence in major media hubs in India, followed by Southeast Asian countries.

Headline image via Shutterstock