What Singapore start-ups are up to

Edtech start-up Cialfo expands to China

Singapore-based education technology firm Cialfo, which helps students apply to universities in the United States and Britain, has opened its first China office, in Shanghai.

The company has also appointed a country head to oversee its China operations and has inked more than 10 new strategic partnerships with China-based education consultancies. The announcement followed a September fundraising round.

"Cialfo's vision is to help a million students find their dream college through our platform by 2020. Key to this is to partner with the right education consultancies to tap into edtech opportunities in Asia, particularly in China and India where opportunities are most apparent," said co-founder and chief executive officer Rohan Pasari.

Cialfo, founded in 2012, streamlines the university application process through an online platform coupled with expert mentoring. Consultants also provide help for university essays and admission interviews.

Carousell acquires productivity tool for car dealerships

Online marketplace Carousell has acquired Singapore start-up Caarly, a productivity tool which makes it easier for used car dealerships to manage their inventory.

This is a "strategic move that strongly positions Carousell for leadership in the cars classifieds", the company said in a statement.

It declined to reveal the size of the deal, adding that "the focus should be on the talented individuals joining our product and engineering team, and how this fits in with our overall business strategy".

"We've seen how (our users') evolving needs have resulted in more listings and greater demand in higher value verticals like cars. This acquisition allows us to tap on Caarly's relationships with car dealers, to give users the widest selection of cars on a classifieds marketplace beginning in Singapore and throughout Asia Pacific soon after," said Carousell co-founder and chief executive officer Quek Siu Rui.

Caarly was launched in 2014 and is used by more than 200 car dealers. As part of the acquisition, the full Caarly team will join Carousell.

Existing Caarly users can continue to use the Caarly platform to list their inventory, which will be cross posted to the cars category on the Carousell marketplace.

Jungle Ventures and Hong Leong Group invest in fashion e-commerce firm

Venture capital firm Jungle Ventures and the Hong Leong Group have led a US$11 million funding round in Thailand-based Pomelo, an e-commerce fashion company.

Pomelo will use the funds to continue their expansion in South-east Asia.

The company is focused on Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia but has customers in more than 44 countries across the globe.

"E-commerce is clearly approaching a tipping point in South-east Asia and we're lucky to be one of the leaders in the fast growing fashion vertical," said Pomelo co-founder and chief executive officer David Jou.

Coffee bean e-commerce platform launches in Malaysia

Speciality coffee bean e-commerce platform Cafebond will officially start retailing online in Malaysia on Friday.

Cafebond (cafebond.com), launched in Singapore in June, allows customers to buy beans from acclaimed coffee seed suppliers and cafes in Australia such as Seven Seeds, Market Lane and Industry Beans.

The company intends to launch in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan early next year.

"We hope to be the world's largest speciality coffee bean e-commerce platform in five years, and bring Cafebond.com to coffee lovers throughout Asia," said chief executive officer Keyis Ng.

Property startup uses blockchain to back mobile digital contracts

Averspace, a property listing application, now offers users the ability to transact with each other using mobile digital contracts on the app.

Leasing agreements and related documents can now be digitally signed within the app, and as they are powered by blockchain technology, they are also safe, reliable and efficient, said Averspacefounder Ivan Lim.