Most start-ups, not just in Singapore but around the world, set up shop because of one reason—they experienced a big problem in their personal lives and want to solve it so that other people don’t go through what they have. They combine their knowledge and passion for technology and collaborate with other like-minded founders to start a business that may or may not flourish. Here are some in Singapore that you should know about, and have been making waves in both local and international media.
The homegrown apartment rental website isn’t very new, though we were impressed by the massive injection of funds it got a couple years ago from Eduardo Saverin’s Sequoia. What set the service apart was its focus on complete, useful listings, rather than scammy, broker-driven generic listings. Other than that, it’s got a great, easy user interface and is free of paid classifieds.
Why they’re hot right now: After a righteous open letter by CEO Darius Cheung, about the racism he and his wife (who is of Indian descent), 99.co launched the “Regardless-of-Race” campaign, which makes a stand against rental racial discrimination in Singapore.
BandLab makes it easier for you to create music and collaborate with other musicians and fans around the world, so if you’ve always had a creative bone in you, this is one app that can help you realize your musical capabilities. Seeing how musicians, both mainstream and indie, have changed the way in releasing their music (who can forget that surprise album drop by Beyonce back in 2013), it’s a direction that may or may not take off in the future. The app has a bunch of advanced music-making tools, which includes a MIDI editor, a library of pre-made loops and virtual instruments and more.
Why they’re hot right now: They’ve caused quite a stir after dramatically acquiring a 49% stake in Rolling Stone Magazine just a few days ago, which includes the magazine itself and its digital assets.
Carousell’s very existence gives bigger competitors like Amazon and eBay a run for their money. This mobile p2p app is essentially a marketplace for users, to sell new or pre-loved items to other users. So whether it’s an old but still functioning film camera, an old school arcade machine (we actually found a few, probably from an old arcade owner) or even some pieces of clothing you bought but in the wrong size. All you need is some photography skill, add a caption and submit the listing. Simple. They’ve already expanded in 13 cities, including the recent launch in Hong Kong.
Why they’re hot right now: Carousell is one of those companies who are sticking to their guns, reaffirming their dedication to “help a billion people” instead of making a billion dollars, at a recent panel in Tokyo. They also just raised a whopping US$35 million in a series B effort, through several big-deal investors.
The name pretty much says it all. While this isn’t a food delivery service, it does help you to, well, cut the queues to get take-out for lunch or dinner. This start-up is targeted at the yuppies working in the CBD area, so if you fall under that demographic, then hooray. It’s a simple concept where you can place an order with the eateries nearby, and head over at a later time to pick up your order. What’s best is that you can even pre-order meals for the next few days.
Why they’re hot right now: Although they’ve only been around since May this year, they did set-up a booth at Slush Singapore, an event where start-ups introduce their companies to a bunch of other start-up founders, tech enthusiasts, investors and more.
Deliveroo has been on the ball with its selection of food available on their delivery service, such as having three-course set dinners or lunches from Singapore Restaurant Week delivered to your house. At the moment, you can choose from about 1,400 different restaurants, such as P.S. Cafe, Park Bench deli and Potato Head Folk and receive it within an average waiting time of 32 minutes.
Why they’re hot right now: They’ve just started bicycle deliveries, which makes them the first food delivery service in Singapore to do so. There are currently 100 cyclists on their existing delivery fleet, who will be performing 20-30% of their future deliveries. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, your waiting time will also be reduced to about 20 minutes because of shorter routes that the cyclists (called Roomen and Roowomen) can take.
You’re probably already using this app pretty extensively to get around Singapore—book a car or a cab, agree to the price and wait for the driver to arrive.
Why they’re hot right now: To keep up with the fast pace of technology, they’ve recently partnered up with another startup who’s made a home here in Singapore. Autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy has been holding the world’s first public trial of self-driving taxis in the One-North business district, and Grab is now in on it too. There is now a special “Robo-Car Trial” icon on the Grab app to book a ride, which will be free-of-charge. However customers can only travel within the One-North business district and nearby neighborhoods. Also, you’ll have to register online first before trying out the service.
Forget Mr/Ms Right Now. Tis the age of Mr/Ms Right here. French dating app Happn uses geolocation (involving a radius of up to 250m) to help you connect with that cutie you just passed in the street. Tap on the heart symbol next to their profile, and if they happy to have done the same, you can chat, much like Tinder.
Why they’re hot right now: They’re set to launch in Singapore in October, and already claim to have 110,000 sign-ups.
While they’re not the first to deliver groceries to your homes here in Singapore, they do come with some advantages (you’ll receive it within the hour), not just for the shopper but for the wider community. The company began as a business to help people who find difficulty in working fixed hours with sustainable income opportunities. So far, they’ve helped to create more than 1,200 jobs in Singapore, which include the trained shoppers (or shopper bees) who’ll help to handpick every item you’ve ordered like a concierge service.
Why they’re hot right now: They’ve launched a laundry service that runs very similarly—they’ll pick up your dirty clothes and deliver it back within a few days.
It’s one of those apps that you won’t know you need, until you actually do. You’ve probably seen their iconic red vans with their ninja emblem zooming (within the speed limit of course) about on the roads, however, this is one start-up that was built with to help their e-commerce clients get products to consumers within a day. So if you’ve ever ordered clothes and products from the likes of Zalora, Lazada and even Guardian, this is the courier service that provides that convenience of receiving it the very next day.
Why they’re hot right now: Earlier this month, they expanded into Indonesia—called “Ninja Xpress”—to give the same kind of service and real-time status updates to help clients there monitor the deliveries.
RedMart has been around delivering groceries to people’s doorsteps since 2011. Although they don’t do same-day deliveries, they have a bigger consumer base as they’ve been around much longer. They keep their stock in a 100,000 sq ft temperature-controlled warehouse to maintain quality control of each delivery.
Why they’re hot right now: Every successful startup are bound to face stiff competition, and RedMart is no exception. There’s been talk in industry that they’re currently in talks with an investment bank to discuss selling its business. While the discussions are still private, we hear that they’ve already looked to NTUC FairPrice.
No, UberPool wasn’t the first to think of an app for carpooling but they’re one of the many companies that are biting off the carpooling pie in Singapore in light of turning Singapore into a car-light city. In fact, when Ryde launched in April 2015, it was the world’s first real-time carpooling app of its kind. While the idea isn’t at all new, Ryde uses real-time matching algorithms to make it easier for users to hitch a ride towards a similar destination.
Why they’re hot right now: Earlier this year, they expanded the service to Hong Kong.