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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 21 June 2021


Taiwanese Online Learning Startups Flourish During Pandemic, Make Headway in APAC

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a boom in homeschooling. At the same time, it has accelerated the development of online learning platforms around the world. According to the “2020 Asia-Pacific Independent Learning White Paper” published by the online self-learning startup Snapask, COVID-19 has changed the way we learn in many countries. The number of Snapask users has increased exponentially in Asia-Pacific (APAC), especially in Korea (275%) and Japan (173%). According to the “2021 White Paper” published by Taiwan’s biggest online education platform Hahow, in 2020, its number of users increased by 60%, its revenue doubled to reach 270 million NTD, and traffic to its online platforms grew by 150%.

India's unicorn tally touches 50, MindTickle the latest entrant

With 16 start-ups gaining unicorn status in 2021, India’s tally has touched the 50 mark. The newest entrants to this list include Pune-based MindTickle, which is close to finalising a $100-million funding round from Softbank’s Vision Fund 2, taking the company’s valuation to $1.1 billion. Last year, Softbank had invested $100 million in the company at a valuation of $500 million. Softbank has again started investing big in the Indian start-up and e-commerce segment. It invested in social commerce platforms Meesho and Firstcry. The Japan-based player is also planning to invest around $500 million in Flipkart. Meanwhile, Saas start-up BrowserStack secured $200 million from US-based BOND in a series B round, raising its valuation to $4 billion, said media reports. The funding round also saw participation from Insight Partners and Accel. The company has so far raised $250 million and is a profitable venture.

Crypto finance startup Amber Group raises $100M at $1B valuation

More mainstream venture capital firms are jumping on the crypto bandwagon as investors increasingly consider bitcoin an investable asset, despite the recent massive price drops of a few major cryptocurrencies. Amber Group, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency trading startup, said on Monday it has raised $100 million in a Series B funding round at a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.The latest valuation is ten times that of the company’s Series A closed in 2019, a $28 million round that counted Coinbase Ventures as one of its investors. Also notably, Amber’s Series B financing was bankrolled by a list of high-profile financial and VC firms, including China Renaissance, which led the round, and Tiger Brokers, Tiger Global Management, Arena Holdings, Tru Arrow Partners, Sky9 Capital, DCM Ventures, and Gobi Partners.

Chinese Trucking Startup Seeks to Raise Up to $1.6 Billion in U.S. IPO

Full Truck Alliance Co., a Chinese startup that provides an Uber-like service for the road-haulage industry, aims to raise as much as $1.57 billion from its U.S. initial public offering, a filing showed. The company, also known as Manbang Group, runs a mobile app connecting truck drivers to businesses that need to transport goods within China. Major investors include SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund, Hong Kong-based All-Stars Investment Ltd., and Sequoia Capital China. This deal and a planned IPO by ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. show Chinese startups are still pursuing U.S. listings, even as the Biden administration has maintained some of former President Donald Trump’s tough stance on businesses from China.

pitchIN raises US$1.3 mil from 322 investors through own equity crowdfunding campaign

PitchIN, Malaysia’s leading ECF platform, has successfully concluded its first ever fundraising exercise. At the end of its equity crowdfunding campaign on Leet Capital, pitchIN chose to accept US$1.34 million (RM5.5 million) from 322 investors. Delighted with the response from investors, Sam Shafie, pitchIn CEO said, “I thank the investors for their support in making our deal one of the largest ECF campaigns in Malaysia. Our campaign target was US$1.21 million (RM5 million). The campaign ended up with around RM5.65 million raised. To not disappoint investors, pitchIN accepted all investors but returned some of the funds to keep our fundraising amount to RM5.5 million. We take this success as a vote of confidence in pitchIN as well as the prospects of the equity crowdfunding and digital investments industry. We are confident about the direction that we are taking. PitchIN is a fintech and the market opportunity is huge. There are over 900,000 SMEs in Malaysia alone.” 

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