DBS to pump in $10m to back local start-ups

MR DENNIS GOH, founder of food review portal HungryGoWhere and a mentor in the DBS HotSpot programme
MR DENNIS GOH, founder of food review portal HungryGoWhere and a mentor in the DBS HotSpot programme

Initiatives, such as DBS HotSpot, help start-ups develop ideas

DBS Bank will invest $10 million in initiatives to support Singapore start-ups over the next five years.

These efforts include DBS-owned programmes, partnerships with accelerators and other start-up programmes.

The first of these is DBS HotSpot, an intensive, three-month programme to help very early-stage start-ups develop their ideas.

Start-ups under the programme, which began in September, were offered a $25,000 entrepreneur award, work space and access to industry mentors.

The bank does not take an equity stake in the participating teams.

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It has been extremely rewarding over the last three months helping these young people develop their ideas to the stage where they now have a number of sign-ups and potential business partners.

MR DENNIS GOH, founder of food review portal HungryGoWhere and a mentor in the DBS HotSpot programme

Eleven teams were picked to take part this year and worked on ideas ranging from helping migrant workers remit funds home quickly to reducing poverty in Vietnam through bike production.

"This is just the start for them but they are now in much better shape to go to market and to attract future funding," said DBS Innovation Group start-up and ecosystems lead Max Tiong.

For many aspiring entrepreneurs, taking that initial plunge, leaving their stable jobs and following their start-up dreams can be a daunting process, said Mr Neal Cross, the bank's chief innovation officer. "The DBS HotSpot is designed to support local start-ups in the very early stages of testing their ideas and getting them off the ground. Subsequently, we will continue to support them through later-stage accelerators and industry programmes."

Mr Dennis Goh, founder of food review portal HungryGoWhere and one of the programme's mentors, said the experience "takes me back to my early days of founding HungryGoWhere".

Mr Goh, who is also a partner at venture capital firm Wavemaker Partners, added: "It has been extremely rewarding over the last three months helping these young people develop their ideas to the stage where they now have a number of sign-ups and potential business partners."

Applications for the next DBS HotSpot will open in the first quarter of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'DBS to pump in $10m to back local start-ups'. Print Edition | Subscribe