Secretlab to ShopBack: LinkedIn unveils top 15 S’pore startups to look out for in 2021

The last year and a half can’t have been easy for anyone. With the global pandemic still raging on, we celebrate the small wins whenever we can. This is why LinkedIn’s list of Top Startups 2021 serves as a source of encouragement and hope.

To put together this year’s rankings, LinkedIn accessed their data across four pillars: employee growth, jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from our flagship LinkedIn Top Companies List.

In order to be eligible, companies must be seven years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held and be headquartered in Singapore.

Here’s a look at the 15 startups in Singapore that have seen tremendous growth this year:

1. Advance Intelligence Group

Image Credit: Advance.ai

Founded in 2016 and now with 1,500 employees, Advance Intelligence Group is the one to watch.

Advance Intelligence Group uses artificial intelligence to power its range of brands, including Advance.AI, which helps finance and retail companies stop fraud, automate processes, and buy now, pay later platform Atome.

This Series C-backed company now has a presence across 12 markets: Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mainland China, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico and Pakistan.

Plus, Advance.AI just received US$200 million in a funding round that will propel it into a small group of Southeast Asia unicorns.

This funding is from Warburg Pincus, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms. This large infusion of cash is expected to help Advance Intelligence GroupI scale up its business significantly. 

2. Endowus

Endowus CEO Gregory Van (left) and Samuel Rhee, chairman and chief investment officer / Image Credit: Endowus

If you’ve ever thought about investing, chances are you’ve come across Endowus. CPF investing is often overlooked by many Singaporeans, or it’s simply treated as a backup “war chest” to buy stocks or funds cheap when the market is undergoing a deep discount.

Set up in 2017, this digital wealth advisor helps people in Singapore reach retirement goals and become more financially literate by offering various investing options for cash, Central Provident Fund (CPF) and Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) funds.

Endowus has raised over S$23 million in funding in a Series A round and plans to use to funds to rapidly scale up its funding and expand into other key Asia wealth hubs, starting with Hong Kong.

3. Homage

Gillian Tee, CEO of Homage (middle) / Image Credit: Homage

Many changes accompany the pandemic, and one of them is the face of health care. Homage combines curated and trained care professionals with smart technology that’s targeted at seniors.

This way, seniors in need of care services can be matched with nurses, physiotherapists and other health professionals on Homage’s app, which operates in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

The eldertech startup has also recently raised US$30 million (S$40 million) funding in a Series C round led by Sheares Healthcare Group, a wholly-owned healthcare enterprise of global investment firm Temasek.

New investors that joined the round include DG Daiwa Ventures and Sagana Capital, as well as existing investors East Ventures (Growth), HealthXCapital, SeedPlus, Trihill Capital and Alternate Ventures.

4. Secretlab

Range of Secretlab chairs / Image credit: Secret lab

You don’t have to be a gamer to want one of Secretlab’s premium gaming chairs. The company has sold the gaming chairs to more than 60 countries, and with the recent work from home boom, orders for their chairs have surged.

Most notably, Secretlab has made waves with its massive hiring exercise. They are looking to fill more than 100 jobs after experiencing incredible growth in recent years.

The company’s co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Alaric Choo said that it is hiring around 80 engineers and designers and new hires for marketing, public relations, and global operational roles.

As one of the biggest homegrown startups, Secretlab along with some of the entrants on this list was mentioned in this year’s National Day Rally. A proud moment for the folks at Secretlab indeed.

5. Aspire

Image Credit: Aspire

An app that’s absolutely essential if you plan to venture into the startup arena, Aspire is great for business owners.

They have a suite of financial tools for small businesses, including invoicing and money transfers. They aspire to become a “one-stop-shop” for entrepreneurs who want to scale up their businesses in Southeast Asia.

Its flagship product, AspireAccount, offers cash flow management and business-to-business payment acceptance services to digital merchants in Southeast Asia.

To date, the company has raised US$40 million from various investors, including its latest financing round led by MassMutual Ventures.

6. StashAway

Image Credit: StashAway

Founded in 2016, StashAway was a solution for CEO Michele Ferrario to combat the over-priced products and low-quality, biased, one-size fits-no-one advice that are often peddled by banks.

He set out to build the investment products he wanted to also offer them across the region.

StashAway offers global growth-oriented investment portfolios targeting different levels of risk, a yield-focused Income Portfolio, and StashAway Simple, a straightforward cash management solution.

Most recently, StashAway has also expanded into Thailand making it the fourth overseas market since its founding in 2016.

StashAway also has operations in Hong Kong, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

It currently manages more than US$1 billion in assets and has raised US$61.4 million in six funding rounds. The company is backed by leading venture capital firms, including Sequoia Capital India, Eight Roads Ventures and Square Peg.

7. Doctor Anywhere

Image Credit: Doctor Anywhere

The new normal of the pandemic has sparked the rise of telemedicine. Doctor Anywhere is a startup that thrived at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Its founder, chief executive officer and chairman Wai Mun Lim, who was previously an investment manager, was inspired by the successes of telehealth startups Teladoc and MDLive in the United States. 

Doctor Anywhere is headquartered in Singapore, with offices across Southeast Asia and in India.

Doctor Anywhere recently raised S$88 million in a Series C funding. The round was led by Asia Partners, with participation from Novo Holdings, Philips and OSK-SBI Partners. It also included returning investors EDBI, Square Peg, IHH Healthcare, Kamet Capital and Pavilion Capital.

8. ShopBack

ShopBack team / Image Credit: ShopBack

If you’ve ever shopped online, chances are you would have used ShopBack to get more bang for your buck. It was founded in 2014 by Henry Chan, Joel Leong, and Shanru Lai.

In December last year, it raised US$75 million in an extended funding round led by Temasek, with participation from existing investors like Rakuten and EDBI. Total publicly known funding is at US$113 million since its inception.

The pandemic has not stopped ShopBack from a 150 per cent revenue growth. The startup bills itself as the largest rewards and discovery platform in Asia Pacific and has a presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, Vietnam, and South Korea. 

9. CARRO

Aditya Lesmana, Aaron Tan and Kelvin Chng / Image Credit: Carro

CARRO is Southeast Asia’s largest AI-driven car marketplace providing shoppers with transparency and quality assurance when buying, selling and financing a car. Ever since it completed a US $360 million (S$477.62 million) funding round that boosted its valuation to US$1 billion, CARRO has officially entered the unicorn club.

With CARRO becoming a unicorn in June, the online platform for buying and selling used cars in Southeast Asia has even bigger aspirations to become a “decacorn” in “the next few years”, according to CEO Aaron Tan.

CEO and co-founder Aaron Tan is already aiming for an 11-figure valuation. Not to mention, Carro also have their sights set on an IPO, exciting things are in the works for Carro indeed.

If you’ve paid close attention to this year’s National Day’s Rally, you’ll remember Carro also had the honour of being mentioned as one of Singapore’s homegrown company.

10. Nium

Image Credit: techstartups.com

Another unicorn in our midst, fintech company Nium recently secured US$200 million in funding. Nium was born out of a mission to simplify the payments experience for consumers and businesses worldwide. 

Specialising in cross-border payments, the startup is now making a serious play into the travel sector and expansion into the US market. Now, Nium aims to expand into the U.S. market, where it already has a team in San Francisco. 

It seems like Singapore has no shortage of unicorns, Nium is also a proud member of the unicorn club. Nium falls under the category of Temasek backed startups that have galloped their way into shiny unicorns. as one of startups backed by

Temasek had injected about US$15.8 million in capital into Nium, and Temasek unit Ossa Investments now owns a 27 per cent stake in Nium.

11. Validus

(From left) co-founder & executive chairman Vikas Nahata; co-founder & CEO Ajit Raikar; and COO Nikhilesh Goel/ Image Credit: Validus

Validus is Southeast Asia’s largest SME financing platform for small businesses, individual and institutional investors. Validus aims to drive inclusive growth for SMEs and economies in the ASEAN region by using data analytics and AI to avail growth to underserved SMEs.

Validus has a presence in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand and uses data analytics and A.I. to drive inclusive growth for SMEs in the region.

12. MiRXES

Image Credit: A*STAR/ MiRXES

MiRXES is a Singapore-headquartered biotechnology company that translates research discoveries to deliver world-leading multi-cancer early detection. They have research, development, manufacturing, and clinical diagnostic operations in Singapore, USA, Japan, and China. We have sales and distribution networks worldwide.

MiRxes has recently raised US$77 million in a Series C round in June to speed research into cancer detection tests. 

13. Zenyum

Image Credit: Zenyum

Zenyum is a Singapore startup that offers a line of affordable cosmetic dental treatments that’s a fraction of the cost of traditional invisible braces.

Their mix of teledentistry – or remote dental care – and orthodontist visits are especially important during Covid-19, where face-to-face consultations are reduced.

With self-care on the rise, Zenyum makes the process of achieving your ideal smile easier than ever.

You’re not the only one that’s smiling, Zenyum has recently raised US$40 million in a round of Series B funding.

This includes US$25 million from L Catterton, a private equity firm focused on consumer brands. The round’s other participants were Sequoia Capital India, RTP Global, Partech, TNB Aura, Seeds Capital and FEBE Ventures.

14. 99.Co

Image Credit: 99.co

Online property search tech firm 99.co is a platform that allows you to easily find the latest resale properties at your fingertips.

The startup has raised US$33.1 million of funding in total. The most recent was in 2019, where it gained US$8 million in investment from REA Group, through the acquisition of the group’s consumer brands iProperty in Singapore and Rumah123 in Indonesia.

Despite the pandemic, 99. co achieved a 62 per cent jump in revenue in 2020 due to cost-cutting measures, tech innovations and a changed business model.

15. Ninja Van

(L-R) Tan Bo Xian, Lai Chang Wen and Shaun Chong, co-founders of Ninja Van / Image Credit: Ninja Van

With all our online shopping, it’s no wonder why Ninja Van has made it to the list for the second time. Interestingly, the logistics and package delivery company is eyeing an initial public offering next year.

Founded in 2014, the logistics startup Ninja Van is headquartered in Singapore and has operations in five other regional markets: Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Data platform VentureCap Insights shows that the Series C round had valued Ninja Van at US$779.8 million.

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