Telcos make greater play for startup scene

StarHub, SingTel unveil Crowdtivate, Innov8 Sparks plans

[SINGAPORE] StarHub and SingTel are both gunning for a larger piece of the Silicon Valley-esque startup action.

Come May, StarHub will throw open the doors of its new crowdfunding site, Crowdtivate, to the public. Similar to established players Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Crowdtivate will be a platform for entrepreneurs and artists to get financial help from just about anyone with money to spare.

This platform will be jointly managed by Star-Hub i³ and its partner, Crowdonomic - a local technology solutions and strategic advisory firm.

"Crowdfunding is an extremely popular way for the global community to connect with artists and entrepreneurs, and for them to participate in bringing great ideas to life," said Stephen Lee, head of Star-Hub i³. "With Crowdtivate, we aim to tap into a continuous source of innovative and creative ideas from local inventors, and ultimately help them grow as a future business or incorporate them into our service platforms."

While other crowdfunding sites might stay out of the development process, Crowditivate plans to be more involved.

"We may even invest in, form a partnership with or bring the start-ups to overseas markets through our telco partners in Asia Pacific," StarHub's Mr Lee said.

The top three monthly Crowdtivate campaigns will receive exclusive assistance, including access to test users, marketing support, startup funding and free software development, among other things.

Crowdtivate, now in its beta launch phase, will be open in May for supporters and backers to examine and fund projects that catch their fancy.

Yesterday, SingTel also announced that it is marshalling its venture capital (VC) troops under a regional umbrella, called Innov8 Sparks.

This regional alliance builds on the existing work of SingTel Innov8, a corporate VC fund that was set up in 2010 with an initial fund size of $200 million.

Now, Innov8 Sparks will bring together the VC funds from SingTel's associates - Thailand's AIS The Startup, the Philippines' Kickstart Ventures by Globe, Australia's Optus-Innov8 Seed and Indonesia's Telkomsel Teman-Dev - as founding members alongside SingTel Innov8.

"Innov8 Sparks will provide assistance to eligible start-ups to expand outside their respective home markets, into Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand," SingTel said yesterday. "Start-ups in the Innov8 Sparks programme will have access to working space, introductions to local partners and start-up communities, as well as local market information and resources."

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