9 homegrown startups to watch
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine startup scene continues to thrive, with nine companies seeking to solve a host of problems faced by consumers and businesses having recently landed on Forbes Asia’s third annual 100 to Watch list.
The featured startups are Edamama, Kindred, Kraver’s Canteen, Packworks, Peddlr, SariSuki, Shoppable Business, Sprout Solutions and TANGGapp. These are among 100 rising startups and small companies in Asia-Pacific “with strong prospects to become success stories,” says Justin Doebele, editor at Forbes Asia.
“Companies on this year’s Forbes Asia’s 100 to Watch list are a study in resilience. With rising interest rates, funding is harder to come by for startups,” says Doebele.
In the previous year’s Forbes listing, only two Philippine startups made the cut.
Edamama, founded in 2022 and led by CEO Bela Gupta D’Souza, is an e-commerce platform dedicated to baby gear, home goods, and lifestyle products. It has raised over $35 million in funding and its backers include the Gokongwei family’s Robinsons Retail Ventures, Ayala-led Kickstart Ventures, and the Sy family’s Gentree Fund.
Kindred, led by CEO Jessica de Mesa-Lim, is a health startup that provides virtual and in-person clinical consultations to women.
“Patients can make appointments through Kindred’s website or app for specialties including gynecology, psychological health, fertility care, and vaccinations against sexually transmitted diseases,” according to Forbes Asia.
Kraver’s Canteen, led by CEO and co-founder Victor Seunglee Lim, is a cloud kitchen operator that has raised $4.5 million in funding. Its backers include Foxmont Capital Partners and Kaya Founders. Its board members include Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures chair Christopher Po and Lance Gokongwei, CEO of conglomerate JG Summit Holdings.
Targeting the underserved
Forbes Asia says the startups in the current have also been chosen for their focus on underserved markets or applying new technologies.
Others include social commerce providers that help users sell consumer products.
Packworks, which has raised $2.2 million, helps small sari-sari stores collect sales data and records much more efficiently. Based in Manila, it works with over 270,000 businesses and is led by its cofounders Bing Tan (CEO), Ibba Bernardo and Hubert Yap. Its backers include tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Ideaspace Foundation, ADB Ventures, and CVC Capital Partners.
Another startup, Peddlr, is focusing on providing point-of-sale support for micro, small, and midsized businesses to help them manage sales and expenses. The company is led by CEO Nel Laygo and has so far raised $4.9 million.
SariSuki, led by former Grab Philippines head Brian Cu, is a social e-commerce startup focused on improving the distribution of agricultural products.
“Customers can register for an account to order fresh produce from local farms, which are distributed through SariSuki’s designated resellers,” according to Forbes Asia.
The company has raised about $30 million in funding from backers such as Gokongwei-led JG Digital Equity Ventures and Foxmont Capital.
Shoppable Business, led by CEO Carlo Silva, is another e-commerce startup that helps local businesses procure authentic branded products.
It works with over 1,400 suppliers and more than 300 buyer-companies. So far, it has raised $1.2 million in a preseed funding round led by Foxmont Capital and Switzerland-based Seedstars.
Founded in 2015, Sprout Solutions is a cloud-based human resources technology provider led by CEO Patrick Gentry. Its website and app support payroll automation and data-driven analytics for employers, and helps them distribute salary advances for employees. Sprout Solutions recently raised $10.7 million in a funding round led by Cercano Ventures.
TANGGapp, led by CEO Rebecca Kersch, is focused on payments and international remittances from the US to the Philippines.
“Users can sync their phone numbers with their TANGGApp account, allowing them to send and receive money from their other phone contacts. The startup claims its payment volumes have grown by 25 times since it launched three years ago,” Forbes Asia said.
To qualify for the 100 to Watch list, startups must be headquartered in the Asia-Pacific region, privately owned, for profit, have no more than $50 million in its latest annual revenue and no more than $100 million in total funding.
Thirteen countries and territories are represented across 11 categories, including biotechnology and health care, e-commerce and retail, and finance.
“Leading the list for the second year in a row, Singapore contributed 20 companies to the list, followed by Hong Kong with 15 and mainland China with 11. The emerging innovation hubs of Indonesia and the Philippines contributed 11 and nine companies respectively,” Forbes Asia says.