18 Hong Kong startups to watch in 2018 (Part 3)

18 startups that investors like to pour their money into to grow it

What can we look forward to in 2018 in the Hong Kong startup scene? We have put together a list of 18 Hong Kong startups that investors supported throughout 2017, and some of our favourite startups at WHub.

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Qupital

Founded in 2016 by Andy Chan and Winston Wong, Qupital is an online invoice trading platform. The FinTech startup has secured US$2 million in seed funding in May 2017. Investors that participated in the round include MindWorks Ventures and Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, who have not invested in Hong Kong FinTech startups before.

The one-year-old FinTech startup has processed over 80 trades since its launch. With an estimated 300,000 SMEs in Hong Kong, the city makes an ideal initial market for Qupital. The startup aims to reach break-even within 2018 through scaling the customer base. (They are hiring! Click here to learn more)

SenseTime

(Updated on May 31, 2018)

Founded in 2014 by Xiaolan Xu, SenseTime is probably one of the strong startups that no one heard of (at least until recently). SenseTime is an AI startup that develops advanced technologies for facial recognition, machine learning and smart city systems.

The AI startup announced in April 2018 that it has raised US$600 million from investors including Alibaba Group Holding, Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and China’s Suning Commerce Group. The latest round valued SenseTime at over US$3 billion. It has also raised US$227 million in Series C from Alibaba in November 2017.

SenseTime has already reached the unicorn status, valued at US$1.47 billion, after its US$410 million Series B round led by CDH Investments and Sailing Capital in July 2017. Nearly 20 investors participated in the round.

It has provided AI services for over 400 companies including Qualcomm, UnionPay, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Xiaomi Inc. Qualcomm has also invested an undisclosed amount of investment in SenseTime in November 2017 and has formed a strategic partnership to develop AI-enhanced chips.

SenseTime has teamed up with Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and HKSTP for the HKAI Lab, a AI accelerator programme dedicated to help commercialising early-stage AI projects. Selected startups will receive US$100,000 seed funding from Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund.

Despite the AI startup’s active presence in Mainland China, Xu told SCMP in an interview that the SenseTime Group was formed at the Hong Kong Science Park in 2014 and the research in artificial intelligence was done in Hong Kong.

Soundbrenner

Founded in 2014 by Florian Simmendinger and Julian Vogels, Soundbrenner builds wearables for musicians. The startup has raised US$1.5 million from angel investors. Soundbrenner has also raised US$500,000 investment in December 2015 and bagged US$240,000 through an Indiegogo campaign. To date, Soundbrenner has raised US$2 million in total.

Soundbrenner has launched Soundbrenner Pulse, a wearable metronome for musicians, in early 2016. The wearable, which is designed for musicians vibrates to rhythm, is available in over 30 countries.

Tink Labs

Founded in 2012 by Terence Kwok, Tink Labs is known for its handy smartphone which is placed in hotel rooms to offer travellers mobile solutions when travelling. The startup has secured US$125 million in Series C in September 2016, bringing its total amount of funding raised to US$160 million.

In partnership with hotels including Novotel, Ritz London, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, the handy smartphone can be found in hotel rooms across 20 major cities around the world. Hotel guests can use the handy smartphone to enjoy the unlimited internet, city guide, hotel in-room service and more under one system. (They are hiring! Click here to learn more)

TNG FinTech Group

Founded in 2015 by Alex Kong, TNG Wallet develops e-wallet platforms in various countries. It’s e-wallet in Hong Kong, namely TNG Wallet, was launched in November 2015. The e-wallet enables peer-to-peer money transfer as well as global cash withdrawal and remittance.

The startup has raised US$115 million in a Series A round from New Margin Capital, Infinity-KBR Group and Nogle Group, with the post-transaction valuation standing at US$565 million. The two-year-old FinTech startup has partnered with convenience chain 7-Eleven, enabling users to make payment and withdrawal cash at over 900 locations in the city.

WeLab

Founded in 2013, WeLab makes credit decisions for individual borrowers via analysing unstructured big data. The FinTech raised US$220 million in November 2017 from investors including the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

WeLend (Photo retrieved from http://whub.io/startups/welab-limited)

To date, WeLab has gathered US$425 million in 4 rounds, including US$25 million from ING Bank in the form of debt financing. The FinTech startup has early backers including TOM Group and Sequoia Capital. It has processed over US$28 billion in loans and with 25 million customers using its service. (They are hiring! Click here to learn more)

Honorable mentions:

Snapask

Founded in 2015 by Timothy Yu, the EdTech startup provides online tutoring service on its artificial intelligence-powered platform. Snapask has raised US$5 million in pre-Series A from investors including Indonesia’s Kejora Ventures and Welight Capital in June 2017. To date, Snapask has raised US$8 million in 2 rounds.

Snapask has over 17,000 tutors and about 300,000 users in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. The startup eyes to expand its reach to UK, Australia and Southeast Asian markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

YEECHOO

Founded in 2014 by Abby Zhang, YEECHOO offers designer clothing rental service through its online platform. Based in Hong Kong, YEECHOO has been selected by Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund as one of the investees in May 2016.

The fashion startup partners with over 150 designers and offer customers a wide selection of designer clothing.(They are hiring! Click here to learn more)