Capping off 2020 and Looking Ahead at Trends for 2021
Inside Chinaccelerator: 10 Years of Cross Border Excellence
Happy 10th-anniversary Chinaccelerator! 🎉
Over the last 10 years, we have strived tirelessly to help founders from across the world in their entrepreneurial journey, to foster and to contribute to the ever-growing startup ecosystem, and to support early-stage startups. In the last 10 years, over 160 startups have gone through the program. Some of our outstanding startups include the likes of BitMEX, Snapask, TravelFlan, and Ushopal.
Thank you to all the alumni, founders, mentors, and the entire Chinaccelerator community for their constant support throughout our journey.
Here is to the next 10 years!
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2021 Trends to Watch Out For
There is little doubt that 2020 accelerated ‘everything digital’ and this trend will continue to prevail in 2021.
The SaaS industry stands to benefit the most from this mindset shift. “This year was a tipping point for the Asian SaaS ecosystem. Covid-19 has pushed companies to digitize their operations, which has been key to accelerating the adoption of SaaS solutions regionally.
Additionally, the fast pace of innovation in the region and lower cost are two very important competitive advantages to build better products at a faster speed,” believes Managing Director Oscar Ramos.
“I think next year we will experience an even faster development in the digital transformation of organizations and the adoption of new technologies. Companies have realized that the risks are lower than they expected and the benefits justify the changes. Collection and use of data will be a fundamental organizational skill. The blockers and catalyzers of change have been identified by a few leaders and they will share the path for others,” he adds.
In 2020, digital consumption surged like never before and 2021 will see companies build on that front. “We believe there will be an acceleration in online media and entertainment industry more engagingly and deeply where VR technology will play a critical role.”, says William Bao Bean. Alongside the acceleration of digital media consumption, William also believes that 2021 will see widespread adoption of collectible non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a concept very popular in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. He adds, “crypto-fintech will accelerate the move from simply being traded on currency exchanges to widespread adoption of products, especially in the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) space.
Capping off 2020!
A key part of looking forward is acknowledging the things that have led us to that point. This year, we celebrated our 10th anniversary.
“At Chinaccelerator, although we have been running remote programs for years, we always had an offline component to the program, our two batches last year were run completely online,” says Oscar Ramos, Partner and Managing Director at Chinaccelerator. “We realized how valuable it is and how much we gave it for granted when some of these elements were acquired by ‘osmosis’ when they came to our accelerators but now, we have to engineer working on building trust, align values and share visions. Moving forward that will make our programs stronger.”
Despite COVID-19, Chinaccelerator portfolio companies managed to not only survive but also thrive during the pandemic.
As an early-stage investor, we invest in the founder as much, if not more, as we invest in the company itself. SOSV General Partner and Chinaccelerator Managing Director William Bao Bean said, “We invest in entrepreneurs with a cockroach-like temperament: someone who never gives up.” And our founders have proven that no matter the situation, persistence and resilience do find their way.
“Going cross-border is always a challenge. And in many ways, 2020 was a responsive year where startups put their plans for going cross-border and China expansion on hold. However, at the same time, startups had an advantage over large corporations, due to their flexibility to be able to react quicker. Deep-tech solutions driving automation and optimization really picked up in 2020”, he adds.
SOSV became the world’s most active early-stage investor in Q2 2020 according to Pitchbook after we invested an SOSV record $80 million into world-changing startups in 2020, up from ~$45m last year, and passed the milestone of our 1,000th startup in May.
We signed marquee deals with the likes of Warner Music Asia to co-invest and boost tech innovation in the music section, and the Korean Government to bring our cross-border expertise to accelerate the growth of Korean AI startups.
The Year of Many Firsts!
For the first time in our decade-long history, the Chinaccelerator program was run virtually the first time. Batch 18, which was also our biggest batch to date with 14 startups, became our first-ever batch to be hosted completely online.
Our flagship 8×8 Speaker Series event, like most events around the world, went virtual where our 8 speakers from all over the world joined to share their insights and experiences with a global audience in just 8 minutes. While we missed interacting with our audience and guests in person, the online setting allowed us to bring more guests from around the world, including Cheryl Goh, Founding CMO of Grab; Patrick Lee, Co-founder of Rotten Tomatoes; Yara Paoli, Former VP of Growth at Skyscanner; Shannon Kalayanamitr, Venture Partner at Gobi Partners; and many more. Moving online allowed us to reach a global audience where thousands of people tuned in to hear our speakers speak.
GOAT, an event that most Chinaccelerator batch companies know as Geeks on a Train, moved to a (Geeks on a) Tablet for the first time. Not only did it allow our startups to interact with the tech giants in China, but also enabled them to pitch to unicorns and tech giants from India and Southeast Asia.
A key part of looking forward is acknowledging the things that have led us to that point.
Our 2020 Batch companies grew at an average of 450%
Despite being forced to make swift changes, Chinaccelerator startups in 2020 achieved the fastest growth. This year, we accelerated 20 incredible startups. On average, these startups managed to achieve 5 times their north star metric and successfully grew their revenues by 300% in the course of the three-month-long program.
AI-driven e-commerce conversion optimization platform, Rosetta.ai (CA17) successfully increased its monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by 4 times to over US$ 300,000 in just 3 months of the program. After the batch, the company continues to show over 10% monthly growth.
A full-service crypto prime brokerage for institutional investors, Covario (CA17) increased client assets in custody by 6 times to over 60 million USD.
Video meta-data platform, Toch (CA18) increased its active clients by 100 percent to more than 560, in the course of the program and reached an MRR of more than $0.5 million by the end of the 3-month program.
Our portfolio companies continued to build on their strengths
In 2020, our cross-border internet startups raised over $50 million in funding, with 10+ startups raising $1 million in funding.
- On-demand tutoring app Snapask (CA8) raised $35 million in Series B funding to expand in Southeast Asia.
- Lootcakes (CA12) raised $2 million to reward VIP gamers who share their data.
- Digital health firm Mobio Interactive (CA12) has closed a $1.8 million seed fund to advance the development of its meditation app Am Mindfulness.
- Singapore-based allrites (CA15) raised $1.1 million to grow its marketplace for TV, film, and sports content rights.
- AI-driven content startup, Instoried (CA17) raised $1 million in Pre-Series A round.
- TourPlus (CA16) closed a $1m seed round to further its ambition to become the TripAdvisor of Southeast Asia.
- Video meta-data platform, Toch (CA18) raised $1 million in pre-Series A round from SOSV and 9 Unicorns Fund.
- TravelFlan (CA16), originally in the travel industry, successfully pivoted to the ecommerce and lifestyle industry with major partnerships with Samsung and China Mobile. The pivot that took the company only 1 week to successfully implement allowed them to hit $1.2 million in revenue in July, that had dropped to $10,000 in January due to COVID19.
- Leading Asian health insurtech startup, The CareVoice (CA10) was listed in the Top 100 Global Insurtech by Sonr and Top 25 Insurtech in China by InsurView. 25 insurance companies have now adopted the CareVoiceOS and they have now become the 1st healthcare operating system for insurers, across Mainland China and Hong-Kong (2X YoY Growth), with 2.5m serviceable members from insurers and non-insurance channels (10X YoY Growth).
- MotionsCloud (CA15), which uses computer vision for streamlining and automating property and vehicle insurance claims, signed a multi-year contract with Generali (Germany); forged successful partnerships with Merimen (largest SEA claims software), Kasko2go, eBaoTech, Lamie Direkt, IMT Computer Services, and Ignatica; and closed their 1st pre-A financing round.
- HR-tech startup, Neufast Limited (CA16) grew its cash revenue by 3333%; grew its paying client number by 10x, and reached contracted revenue of US$100,000. We partner with GetLinks in Thailand, ajinga in Mainland China, and cpjobs in HK.
- AR/VR shopping platform, Coolhobo (CA10) rebranded to Neogoma and closed its extended angel round at US$1 million.
- Global “Green Coffee” trading platform, Coffee Exchange (CA14) saw an impressive 270% year-on-year growth in gross revenue.
- Music streaming platform for the TikTok generation, NUSIC (CA13) got over 100,000 app installs, raised US$250,000, and won the Entrepreneurship World Cup China Early-Stage Company Award.
- viact.AI (CA16) that automates the real-time monitoring of construction and manufacturing sites to increase productivity and safety was awarded by CEMEX Ventures as Top 50 Global ConTech Startups.
Our mentor community became 50 times stronger!
In 2020, we brought in 50 new mentors to our mentor network that has now grown to more than 400 experts scattered around the world helping our startups.
Our mentors are mostly based in Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and more. Their top 5 specializations include China Strategy, Entrepreneurship & Business, Mobile Strategy, Fundraising, and Media/Branding Strategy.
Learn more about our mentors in our Learn from Leaders series.
Check out our nine incredible EIRs (Expert in Residence) here:
Supporting the larger startup ecosystem and the community has always been part of our ethos, and we continued to provide valuable knowledge and opportunities to our founders and community through a series of online and offline events in 2020.
Even as lockdowns became a normal occurrence globally, it did not deter us from bringing our community together. We hosted virtual alumni happy hours joined by founders from remote locations.
We organized over 25 virtual and hybrid (online-offline) events in the year reaching thousands of entrepreneurs, founders, and startup aficionados from around the world.
We also partnered with and attended more than 100 events last year.
Some of the flagship tech conferences across several regions that we are involved in included Web Summit (international), Collusion (International), SWiTCH (Singapore), Techsauce (Thailand), She Loves Tech Global Final & Summit (International), HICOOL (China), OTEC (China), Ignite (Philippines), TechSparks (India), and Hello Tomorrow (Finance).
In such a difficult time, our partnerships and community engagements have not only allowed people to come together virtually but also allowed for our portfolio companies to save enormous sums of money through our perks program. In 2020, we helped our portfolio companies redeem and save over $12 million in perks and benefits!
As a key stakeholder in the ecosystem, we are actively exploring collaboration opportunities with other players in the ecosystem. By year-end, we are already working with 70+ organizations and communities (local and international), and 100+ partners with a collective aim to empower the tech industry.
Bringing the startup-like agility to the corporate world.
Along with helping startups accelerate their growth, over the past several years, we have been actively involved in bringing the lean methodology and startup culture within the corporate world with our corporate innovation program and this year was no different.
- We partnered with the Korean government to help design and run an accelerator program to help Korean AI startups go global.
- We launched our inaugural webinar series focused on corporate innovation called Pathway2Innovation.
- Facilitated over 60+ portfolio companies’ introduction with our corporate partners that led to meaningful discussions.
- We are working with one of the most renowned cosmetic companies with their innovation initiatives.