DBS, the leading financial services group in Asia with over 280 branches across 18 markets, will invest $7.1 million in initiatives that will support the development of the startup ecosystem in Singapore over the next five years. These initiatives include DBS owned programmes, partnerships with accelerators and other startup programmes.
The first pre-accelerator programme, DBS HotSpot, kicks off the series of initiatives. Early-stage startups will be awarded almost $18,000, as well as provided with the workspace and access to industry mentors and DBS executives. Startups are not required to have an existing prototype or operating business and the bank doesn’t take an equity stake from the participating teams.
Chief Innovation Officer at DBS Bank, Neal Cross, shared his insights on the startup ecosystem in Singapore and the value of HotSpot, saying, “Singapore is becoming a thriving startup ecosystem and with our roots as the Development Bank of Singapore, we are keen to help grow the community. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, taking that initial plunge, leaving their stable jobs and following their startup dreams can be a daunting process. The DBS HotSpot is designed to support local startups in the very early stages of testing their ideas and getting them off the ground. Subsequently, we will continue to support them through later stage accelerators and industry programmes.”
Max Tiong, DBS Innovation Group Startup and Ecosystems Lead at DBS Bank, commented on the first batch of 11 DBS HotSpot startups that have been through a rigorous programme of testing and refining their ideas to turn these into commercially viable products. Even though those startups are at an early stage, they are now in much better shape to go to market and to attract investors.
Source: DBS HotSpot
One of the mentors of the programme, Dennis Goh, founder of HungryGoWhere and partner at Wavemaker Partners, shared the excitement to work with startups, saying, “It has been extremely rewarding over the last three months helping these young people develop their idea to the stage where they now have a number of sign-ups and potential business partners.”
Startups worked on a variety of ideas. Some of the most notable participants were listed by DBS in the official press release: BambooBike, Mirri, BeMex, Nickel and InvoiceInterchange. Nickel and InvoiceInterchange have been accepted to Startupbootcamp FinTech FastTrack.
HotSpot is not the first initiative by DBS to support the startup ecosystem. The bank previously collaborated with NEST to launch DBS Accelerator, a unique programme run by a full-time, dedicated team. Up to 8 startups are selected to come to Hong Kong to accelerate their FinTech businesses. Selected startups are provided with mentorship from specialists in banking and technology, support from leading industry experts, workspace in Wanchai, access to the DBS & NEST innovation ecosystems and opportunity to pitch at a demo day.
At the beginning of 2015, DBS also launched a programme to provide financing to tech startups. By offering a dedicated venture debt solution to tech startups at the growth stage, DBS is making available an alternative source of capital for these firms to tap on, with little or no dilution to their equity. Tech startups can use DBS venture debt for working capital, fixed assets acquisition and even project financing.