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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 4 August 2019

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Nosh raises $1.7m in pre-series A round, rebrands corporate business into ‘Spoonful’

Hong Kong-headquartered cloud kitchen startup Nosh has secured $1.7 million in pre-series A funding round, the company’s executive said on his Linkedin profile. 

Nosh is a virtual kitchen startup that claims to use sustainable and nutritious ingredients for each of their food delivery. It has an executive chef team preparing the meal, with every meal wrapped with biodegradable packaging. The company secured the latest funding round led by an undisclosed investor from Europe. Apart from the European investor, the company has also secured funding from tech giant Alibaba through its Entrepreneurs Fund.

Going forward, Nosh will rebrand its corporate business and app into a new name ‘Spoonful’, which will allow corporates to order from the company’s self-operated delivery-only restaurants: NOSH, GA, Rustico, and/or Sesami. The service will also launch in Singapore in September this year.

Techstars nabs $42 million to expand its global presence.

Techstars, a startup accelerator founded in 2006, has plans to double down on international growth with a new investment.

SVB Financial Group, the holding company of Silicon Valley Bank, led the $42 million round in Techstars, with participation from Foundry Group.

With $500 million AUM, Techstars is both a fund deploying capital to early-stage upstarts and an operating business nearing $100 million in annual revenue. Its latest equity investment, announced this morning, will fuel the latter, helping Techstars accelerate its global expansion efforts.

“Expect to see Techstars continue to expand more rapidly, not just in North America and Europe, but also throughout Asia, Latin America, Australia and more,” Techstars founder and co-chief executive officer David Cohen

Prenetics partners with Watsons, one of Asia’s largest personal care retailers, to sell its new consumer DNA test

Genetics testing startup Prenetics announced a major new deal for its brand in Asia. The company is partnering with A.S. Watson Group, the personal care giant whose stores are ubiquitous in many East and Southeast Asian countries, and has signed a deal worth HKD $200 million (about $25.6 million) with Watsons Hong Kong, in addition to the memorandum of understanding for expansion through Asia. 

Circle DNA, Prenetics’ new consumer DNA testing kit, is now available for sale in Watsons’ Hong Kong retail stores. It is also available online in Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Thailand and the Philippines.

Prenetics launched in 2014 and has raised more than $50 million so far from investors including Beyond Ventures and Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, who led its $40 million Series B in 2017.

Hong Kong’s first unicorn Tink Labs set to shut down this week

Tink Labs, Hong Kong’s first billion-dollar startup founded by a 25-year-old entrepreneur, is set to shut down after quietly laying off nearly all its employees, according to a Financial Times report. 

Founded in 2012 and led by Chief Executive Officer Terence Kwok, Tink Labs attracted investors, including SoftBank Corp and Foxconn, to become the city’s first unicorns because of its business model – provide free-to-use smartphones in hotel rooms around the world. The company’s phones can be used by hotel operators to promote their services, either in the room or when taken out by lodgers as a free-to-use city guide and mobile device. 

According to several current and former employees interviewed by the Financial Times, Tink Labs announced internally that it will close on Thursday after a massive retrenchment in recent weeks.

Schneider Electric and Brincs announce accelerator program 

Schneider Electric announced an accelerator program for entrepreneurs, in partnership with Brinc, an accelerator and venture capital firm, said the company in a press release today. The program will provide $125,000 of funding, an additional sum as credits that can be used against services from Brinc, and access to Schneider Electric’s customers, mentorship, and market knowledge. 

Selected startups will undergo a 3-month program, a month of which will be in Hong Kong, while the rest can be done remotely. The program is for startups that deal with electric energy and industrial IoT (Internet of Things). Applications for the program are open till August 10. 

“We’re excited to partner with Brinc to find the next disruptive idea in energy and industrial automation,” said Rodolphe Heliot, vice-president (Business Incubation) at Schneider Electric. “We are particularly interested in technology accelerating the convergence between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT)."

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