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Tech Startups in Asia Including 37 Unicorns in China



CB Insights:

Asia is the earth’s largest and most populous continent. Nearly one-third of the world’s private “unicorn” companies that are valued at $1B+, are headquartered there, 52 unicorn companies total. China holds the most, with over two-thirds (71%) of the continent’s billion-dollar startups.

Now, the tech boom is diffusing across Asia and Oceania; startups outside of the established hotbeds for technology and innovation are raising vast sums of money.

Using CB Insights data, we analyzed the most well-funded tech startups in the Asia-Pacific region by country based on disclosed equity funding. We excluded debt funding and only considered VC-backed companies that have raised at least $1M of equity funding to date. Every country included on the map has at least one startup with $1M+ in equity funding, and every company featured has raised equity funding since 2012.

Eight of the 15 Asia-Pacific countries featured in our map have at least one startup that has raised $100M+, and 6 Asian countries on the map have seen at least one unicorn birth.

After China’s 37 unicorns, India has the second most with eight. Other countries with startups valued at $1B+ include: South Korea (Coupang, CJ Games, Yello Mobile), Singapore (Grab, Garena Online), Japan (Mercari), and Indonesia (Go-JEK).

Countries whose top five most well-funded VC-backed tech startups that did not have a combined total of $3M+ in equity funding were excluded. With these criteria for selection, some countries did not make the map—including Mongolia, Timor-Leste, and others. The least well-funded startup on the map is in Bangladesh: the on-demand grocery delivery platform Chaldal, with $120K in equity funding in a seed round from Y Combinator. The most well-funded tech startup in Asia is China’s Didi Chuxing, which has raised $8.6B and is valued at $33.8B.

57 startups in the subscription ecommerce market



CB Insights:

To understand the current market landscape, we used CB Insights data to create a market map of subscription e-commerce startups. The market map includes only startups offering subscriptions for physical goods — either of their own items, or curated boxes of other brands’ items. We excluded food subscription startups, such as Blue Apron, and subscriptions for services or experiences, like Classpass. The 57 companies on our market map have raised over $1.4B in total.

Category breakdown

  • Beauty & cosmetics – These startups provide curated subscription boxes of their own or other brands’ beauty items. Birchbox and Ipsy are the leaders in the space, with $87M and $103M in funding, respectively.
  • Beer & wine – Subscription shipments of beer and wine.
  • Child & baby items – Subscriptions for children’s items, such as Bitsbox, which focuses on teaching kids to code, and Rockets of Awesome, which offers a subscription for children’s clothing.
  • Coffee & tea – Curated subscription boxes of coffee and tea.
  • Leisure –  Loot Crate is a relatively well-funded company in this diverse category, with $19M in funding for subscriptions of geek and gaming pop culture items. Other players include Datebox, which delivers items for a date each month to couples, and Cairn, which serves outdoor enthusiasts with boxes including goods like energy bars, headlamps, and firestarters.
  • Men’s apparel – Companies such as Bombfell ($1M raised) and Five Four Club (bootstrapped) ship male-targeted boxes of apparel and accessories.
  • Pet items – Startups offering scheduled deliveries for dog toys, like BarkBox, or healthy pet food, like The Farmer’s Dog.
  • Personal care – These startups generally produce and provide subscription refills for personal care items. Harry’s offer razors, The Honest Company provides subscription bundles of various personal care items, Quip and Goby both target toothbrushes, Lolaoffers organic cotton tampons, and Monthly Gift sends women monthly feminine care packages.
  • Vitamins & supplements – Subscription refills for vitamins and supplements. For example Nootrobox ($3M in funding) focuses on “body hacking” supplements, while Y Combinator graduate Multiply Labs aims to provide personally customized supplements on a recurring basis.
  • Women’s apparel – This category includes the most well-funded company in our infographic, the beleaguered TechStyle Fashion Group (formerly JustFab), with $300M in funding, which aims to offer members personally curated selections of apparel and accessories each month. Other companies include Stitch FixAdoreMe, which focuses on lingerie, and Gwynnie Bee, which targets the plus-size market.


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Chatbots Startups and the Future of Marketing and Selling



Venture Radar: Chatbots are programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence.


CB Insights: Advances in artificial intelligence algorithms have put chatbots and voice assistants in the spotlight, with investor interest in the space increasing in recent months.

From Artificial intelligence (AI) And The Future Of Marketing: 6 Observations From Inbound 2016

At Inbound 2016, HubSpot’s co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah entertained 19,000 attendees with their take on the past and future of marketing. Here’s what I learned from their keynote presentation and a brief interview.

2017 will be the year of the bot. So predicts Halligan, adding “in five years, you will do a lot less navigating through apps and more just asking questions and chatting back and forth with bots… the next thing you know, we like it and it’s easier and more efficient than waiting for the sales rep to call you back.” Shah notes that businesses started building websites in the 1990s so they can answer customer questions 24/7. “Soon,” he says, “they will start building bots. They won’t replace the websites, but they will power them. The shortest time between a customer question and the answer will be a bot. It’s not human vs. bot, it’s human to the bot powered.” (HubSpot’s recent contribution to the bot power movement: Growthbot).

The “marketing conversation” will become a human-machine conversation. That the essence of marketing is a “conversation” between a business (or any “brand”) and its customers and potential customers has been a marketing tenet (and cliché) for a long time. While that conversation has been conducted over the last twenty years increasingly through a computer screen with the help of a keyboard, it is now transforming into human-machine conversation. “The conversational UI,” says Shah, “is going to be an even bigger leap in software than we had with the shift to Web-based software. We are all re-thinking now how to build products.” It’s the most natural way to engage, interact, market and sell: “We will have voice input because it’s much more efficient [than typing] and visual output because it’s more efficient than listening—we can see and read and scan much faster that we can listen. I don’t think screens are going away but the keyboard is likely going to be less and less prevalent.”

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The AI and Automation Buzz



CB Insights: Media buzz around AI, robotics, and automation increased significantly towards the end of 2016.

JP Gownder, Forrester:

The forward march of automation technologies — which include hardware (e.g. robots, digital kiosks), software (e.g. AI), and customer self-service (e.g. mobile ordering) — continues to reshape the world economy. Automation has already begun to reshape every company’s workforce, including yours. Leaders across all roles, companies, and verticals are taking note; right now, my report The Future of Jobs, 2027: Working Side-by-Side with Robots is one of the five best-read among all reports at Forrester. We forecast a world in which automation cannibalizes 17% of US jobs by 2027, partly offset by the growth of 10% new jobs from the automation economy. Most importantly, we see human-machine teaming as a key workforce trend in the future, as more and more human employees find themselves working side-by-side with robotic colleagues.

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