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5 creative startups driving innovation at *SCAPE Creative Fellowship Showcase

Kickstarted in October 2019, the second edition of the *SCAPE Fellowship, a 20 weeks startup programme jointly organized by *SCAPE and StartupX, was launched to transform ideas into creative businesses.

Running for the second year, the second edition of the programme specifically targets rising entrepreneurs across various creative industries such as music, esports and the performing arts.

I had the chance to witness the final 5 startup teams as they shared their growth journey on the Showcase held on the 20th of March 2020. From esteemed pioneers in music innovation to creatives with a social mission, all 5 displayed not only impressive growth, but also inspiring backstories. The 5 startups that presented include:

Founded by NUS Overseas Colleges alumni Liu Zhiqun and Lasalle graduate Lee Jing Lin, Kopi Date is reinventing the modern dating scene. First conceived at the 2018 Carouselland flea market, the power duo now curates unique 1-on-1 dates over genuine conversations and coffee.

The app is designed to reach a “sweet spot” in between the superficiality of dating apps like Tinder and the high price tag of modern matchmaking agencies. It does so with the help of the startup’s proprietary algorithm called Froth, which recommends matches. To further humanize the dating experience, Kopi Date also provides a personal handbook and concierge to all users and chooses cafes to carefully curate interactions between café owners and their app users.

Kopi Date’s curated dating experiences have since attracted more than 1500 users on the app. Most impressively, the company has maintained a strong 1:1 female to male ratio — an extraordinary feat by online dating standards.

According to Zhiqun, nearly 40% of users are students in local universities. This unanticipated demand for the app has motivated the team to work on more customized products for these users in future.

And it’s not just dating and relationships that innovators at the *SCAPE Creative Fellowship wants to humanize. Some are driven to change the way whole industries interact with consumers.

The winner of Pitbull’s Blockchain Music Challenge in 2018, HyperValence wants to redefine music for both fans and artists. Founded by serial hackathon winners Joshia and Agrim, HyperValence is a synergy of the team’s technical expertise and passion for making music.

Having undergone multiple pivots to become the gamification platform it is today, HyperValence allows fans from around the world to support their favourite artists by exchanging blockchain tokens for digital collectibles. Where music creation is traditionally driven solely by artists, HyperValence seeks to change this into a co-creative process where both fans and artists work together to make music more accessible to everyone.

Blockchain isn’t the only emerging technology this industry disruptor is leveraging on. By September this year, the team plans to enhance their quest ecosystem with AR/VR games live streaming as well.

According to HyperValence co-founder Joshia, there is no better time than now to launch the platform as significant growth of the music streaming market, coupled with the accompanying rise in independent artists not signed with any labels, indicate high potential demand for HyperValence’s services.

While HyperValence made waves by winning challenges set by accomplished music personalities, the next startup is founded by an accomplished music personality herself.

Behind an unassuming name is an accomplished musician who hails from the world-famous TENG Ensemble. With projects together with Giant Hypermart, BoBo Fishball and Song Fa Bak Kut Teh also under her belt, Founder and Music Director Peh Linde now seeks to create bespoke music for advertisements, brands and creative campaigns with Studio Two Three.

Studio Two Three delivers on what conventional stock music cannot — conveying a strong brand identity with music. To do so, the startup produces modern music that is infused with ethnic instrumentation. This marriage of international appeal and geographically specific nuance creates a powerful localization effect that drives Studio Two Three’s brand as a bespoke music production company.

According to Peh Linde, for “every campaign to achieve its maximum potential, every element needs to be intentional, on-point, and crafted specifically for that purpose”. This means that brand identity can be strengthened or lost in translation depending on the type of creative material used to bring it across.

The winner of the Most Creative Award at Startup Weekend Singapore 2019 and second runner-up at StartupX’s HyperHack Sustainability hackathon last year, Meerks started out as an idea to address the issues that dementia patients and their loved ones face. Co-founded by Christina Choo, Nicole Lim and Marc Choo, the startup seeks to reduce the number of dementia patients going missing worldwide.

To do so, Meerks has designed a unique mobile tracker that slips into the soles of shoes. The tracker uses kinesthetic energy generated by user movements to self-charge, and its invisible appearance reduces the likelihood of dementia patients accidentally removing it. The tracker can even be used anywhere in the world thanks to a built-in E-SIM.

Meerks has since secured 5 letters of interest that comprise a potential user base of 13 000 first — movers, and aims to reach 25 000 users within the next 3 years. With the rise in dementia patients worldwide, co-founder Christina is hopeful the company will continue to grow, and more patients get the necessary preventive care from Meerks too.

Dementia and old age may be a question of if, not when. For younger folks, a bigger question that looms larger in their minds would be getting themselves a home.

Unlike the traditional home buying experience of mindlessly scrolling through catalogues and comparing prices, Knock Knock does away with that by highlighting the uniqueness of each home and inspiring homeowners.

For co-founders Lena and Amanda, it starts by answering the question: what if you could view your future home the way home is meant to make you feel? With Knock Knock’s online platform, homeowners can have these experiences with carefully curated environments that are beautiful and functional.

To evoke the right atmosphere, Knock Knock collaborates with property agents, landlords and local artists. The team intends to curate new property launches and showrooms in future, and is currently in talks with Far East Hospitality for their home staging services and art series.

It is rare to find startups driving innovation in creative industries, and all 5 startups have come a long way since the beginning of the programme. Let’s continue to support our entrepreneurs in the creative industries!

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Tian Wen

Singapore-based data journalist covering Asia’s tech / startup trends. Founder@ Seakoel, Politicorn. I write about SEA’s agritech, edtech, and space scene here.