Start Singapore: Russia offers free office space for high-tech start-ups

New Union founders Lee Yue Cheng (left) and Eddie Lee. The start-up has raised over $21 million for about 40 SMEs.
New Union founders Lee Yue Cheng (left) and Eddie Lee. The start-up has raised over $21 million for about 40 SMEs.PHOTO: NEW UNION

Russia offers free office space for high-tech start-ups

Singapore start-ups are being encouraged to expand into the vast Russian market.

Skolkovo Foundation, a Russian public-sector agency which promotes high-tech industries such as information and bio technology, is offering free office space to such start-ups for six months.

The space is at the foundation's office in Skolkovo, about an hour's car ride from the capital Moscow.

Skolkovo vice-president and executive director of the IT cluster Igor Bogachev said the Singapore start-ups can also apply for grants to make their products more suitable for Russian users.

"This is a 'soft landing' for Singapore companies to enter the Russian market without the cost of having to pay for office space or funds to localise their products," he told The Straits Times last week, when he was in town to attend Echelon 2015, a major start-up event.

Skolkovo also hosts start-ups from France, Israel, Switzerland and the US.

"Having start-ups from all over the world in one place (helps them) expand globally," said Mr Bogachev, who led a delegation of 12 Russian start-ups to Echelon.

The start-ups represented sectors such as logistics, video surveillance and financial technology. Many had more than 100 meetings with potential investors and business partners.

Mr Konstantin Artemyev, chief executive of Bravomotors, which makes ultra-compact three-wheel electric cars, said many investors and potential customers had expressed interest in the vehicle.

"We have a better understanding of the compact personal vehicle niche we want to conquer in Singapore and other countries," he told The Straits Times.

Cloud video surveillance start-up Ivideon wants to expand to Asia via Singapore.

"Our expectations of Singapore were right. There's a lot of interest in funding and business collaboration," the company said.


Get the lead on sales possibilities

Home-grown Spini is an e-commerce start-up with a difference - it does not sell products.

Instead , it aggregates "leads" for salespeople.

Anyone can post information related to a customer who is planning to make a purchase. Sales executives then bid for - and if successful buy - that information as leads, according to a Spini media statement.

Co-founder and chief executive Shankar G said in the statement: "Cold calling potential customers is long dead and ineffective.

"Every salesperson is looking out for new avenues to identify potential customers."

Spini recently raised $1 million from venture-capital firm Walden International to expand into India.


New Union founders Lee Yue Cheng (left) and Eddie Lee. The start-up has raised over $21 million for about 40 SMEs.
New Union founders Lee Yue Cheng (left) and Eddie Lee. The start-up has raised over $21 million for about 40 SMEs. PHOTO: NEW UNION

Platform to help SMEs get financing

Two-year-old capital-raising platform New Union has successfully raised more than $21 million for about 40 local SMEs in 82 deals.

It is one of two "closed" crowdfunding platforms in Singapore. The other is CapBridge, which has started piloting its platform with 10 companies. Only accredited investors and financial institutions can invest in SMEs which use their platforms.

SMEs which raise funds from investors repay the principal sum with interest. To date, all applicants on the New Union platform have repaid the loans within the stipulated time period.


Restaurant booking app Chope raises $10.8m

Restaurant booking app Chope has raised US$8 million (S$10.8 million) in a financing round led by Asian investment firm F&H Fund Management and a home-grown venture-capital firm, NSI Ventures.

Singapore Press Holdings, an existing investor, also took part in this latest round of investment. Other investors include local and foreign VC firms DSG Consumers Partners and Frontier Ventures.

The start-up will use the funds to expand to more Asian cities and accelerate product innovation. Besides Singapore, it has operations in Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The firm reported that it has more than doubled its revenue and seated more than 20 million diners.

Grace Chng

•Send news on start-up development to chngkeg@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2015, with the headline 'Get the lead on sales possibilities Restaurant booking app Chope raises $10.8m Russia offers free office space for high-tech start-ups StartSingapore Platform to help SMEs get financing'. Print Edition | Subscribe