Savvy, innovative firms top fastest growing company list in Singapore

Carro, a technology-driven automotive marketplace, was last year’s fastest growing firm and one of the top 10 firms this year. PHOTO: CARRO

SINGAPORE - Being savvy and meeting consumer demands through innovation and technology have propelled some companies in Singapore to the top, according to a list of the fastest growing firms here released on Tuesday (Jan 18).

The ranking, which was compiled by The Straits Times and global research firm Statista, showed that the top 10 firms came from a variety of sectors including support services, precious metal recycling and retail.

Many of the firms harnessed innovative technologies and solutions to meet their consumers' ever-evolving needs, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The companies were ranked by their compound annual growth rate. They had to meet certain criteria for potential inclusion to the list, such as having generated revenue of at least $150,000 in 2017 and at least $1.5 million in 2020.

The study conducted last year - the fourth since the first iteration of the list in 2018 - compiled a league table of 75 local companies that achieved high revenue growth between 2017 and 2020.

Human resources platform provider Workmate topped the ranking this year, with a compound annual growth rate of 346 per cent.

The firm, which was founded in 2016, provides an end-to-end platform that integrates automation tools, real-time performance data and a network of pre-screened candidates so firms can hire and optimise their blue-collar workforce.

It now has 90 staff across Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

Online shopping solutions provider SCI Ecommerce came in second, followed by Haulio, South-east Asia's largest container haulage platform.

German-based Statista senior associate partner Thomas Clark, who is responsible for corporate development and international affairs, said: "Tech and support services will always spearhead the list of growth champions in modern and innovative economies like Singapore."

Statista senior analyst Michael Bausch added: "E-commerce is certainly the most prominent sector that directly benefited from the pandemic."

Singapore Management University assistant professor of finance Aurobindo Ghosh observed that globally, tech firms have achieved a rapid pace of growth over the last few years, such as the well-known FAANG - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

National University of Singapore business professor Lawrence Loh said: "Going forward, the fastest growing sectors will be those resilient to the pandemic. These may include information technology, logistics, healthcare and green sectors."

Meanwhile, sectors that continue to be relevant due to staple consumer demand include food and commodities, and housing and furnishings.

But sectors such as aviation, hospitality and travel have been severely hit and will take time to recover, he said.

Mr Clark added that firms succeed through innovation and curiosity, ideally with the aim to create solutions for problems that people are not even aware of yet.

"With such a mindset, growth will always be possible, even when the world is in a lockdown."

Indeed, companies that have remained innovative with digital solutions have thrived.

Haulio's platform aggregates data and insights to better optimise the operational deployment of hauliers during crunch periods. This helps to minimise empty mileage and reduce waiting time through a digital dashboard with enhanced visibility.

Chief executive Alvin Ea said: "We are also taking a data-centric approach towards further optimisation and the streamlining of haulage trips with a focus on reducing the carbon emissions from unnecessary transportation of empty containers."

On Monday, the firm announced that it has raised US$7 million (S$9.4 million) in a Series A funding round, led by Temasek unit Heliconia Capital.

Last year's fastest growing firm Carro, a technology-driven automotive marketplace, is also in the top ten firms this year.

SPH Brightcove Video
In his teens, Aaron Tan taught himself how to code and made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing Internet-related deals. In 2015, he started Carro with two friends and the used car platform has joined the ranks of startup unicorns.

Meanwhile, precious metals recycling firm BR Metals defended its position, coming in at seventh place again this year.

Managing director Frank Chen said the firm took the downtime during the pandemic to see how to use automation to raise the efficiency of its sampling and analysis processes.

As a result, it was able to slash each production cycle time by 72 per cent, electricity usage by 48 per cent and costs by 38 per cent at its Singapore operations.

"We are also looking into using robotics to analyse the samples. This will significantly reduce the time and human error in the sampling process and most importantly, our customers can receive their payment sooner, giving us an edge over the competition," he said.

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