This year has been a rather rocky one with economies heading south and businesses, especially startups, struggling to stay afloat.
Startups found themselves having to pivot their business models quickly or become irrelevant.
LinkedIn has recently identified 10 startups that have remained resilient during this tumultuous time, as they continue to attract investment, employees and attention.
The list uses a combination of proprietary platform data and editorial expertise, and measures four core areas: employment growth, engagement, job interest and attraction of top talent, using platform data from January to July 2020.
Here’s a look at the 10 startups in Singapore that have risen above the pandemic:
Founded in 2014, financial services and data platform GoBear managed to raise US$17 million (S$23 million) in May — in the middle of Covid-19 — from existing investors.
The funding brings GoBear’s total funding to US$97 million, and will be used to expand its consumer financial services platform in Southeast Asia.
They also brought on three new executives, including a new CFO.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and a declining interest in travel insurance, founder and CEO Adrian Chng said that they still saw growth in GoBear’s other insurance and loan products.
They saw a surge in demand for products in categories like fitness and electronics, both of which saw around a fourfold increase in orders comparing data from January to April year-on-year.
Orders in the internet services category — including top brands like NordVPN, Udemy and Symantec — increased by around 70 times during the same period.
ShopBack entered Korea in April this year, through the acquisition of Ebates Korea, the nation’s largest online cashback platform.
They even made their official debut in Vietnam last month, after seeing consistent month-on-month growth of over 150 per cent in sales and orders this year since its end-2019 beta launch.
Founded in 2015, gaming chair brand Secretlab saw demand for its chairs grow as people work from home. More people across the world have also turned to video games and e-sports while they are stuck at home.
They even hired 30 over more staff during the circuit breaker period from early April to June to cope with what it described as a “multifold” increase in global orders.
Despite the pandemic affecting its vendors and slowed down the overall pace of production, the increase in sales was enough to keep the business afloat.
Founded in 2013, recruitment and career development platform Glints had raised US$6.8 million in a Series B funding round last year to expand to Vietnam and Hong Kong and to grow its product and engineering teams.
Besides matching candidates with jobs, Glints is now evolving into a skills and career development platform with online classes and career training, and off-shore talent outsourcing hubs.
In response to the pandemic, Glints launched a free outplacement initiative for companies which helped match impacted employees with new career opportunities.
The startup helps enterprises digitise and transform their businesses, which many retailers are forced to do during the pandemic.
They have also seen rising demand from younger shoppers in taking up instalment plans for online retail spending.
Its subsidiary, Atome, launched a “buy now, pay later” solution, to support the recovery of Singapore’s retail sector during Covid-19.
In the first three months since its soft launch, Atome saw a 11 times growth in gross transaction volume. Millennials between the ages of 20 and 40 make up 70 per cent of their customers.
Atome is also part of a consortium applying for Singapore’s digital wholesale banking license.
With more elderly people staying at home during the pandemic, demand for care-giving services rose.
In response to the pandemic, Homage launched a new service arm called Homage Health, which offers home medical services such as mobile medicine, telehealth consultation and medicine delivery.
The healthcare company saw a spike in enquiries on medical teleconsultations and home medical services as families increasingly look for options to minimise infection risk.
While Homage Health was already in the works before Covid-19, its launch was accelerated due to the increasing demand.
Founded in 2018, invisible braces startup Zenyum offers clear aligners 70 per cent cheaper than its counterparts on the market.
Their co-founder Julian Artopé estimated that they have expanded the Clear Aligner market by about 40 per cent of the total market size, thanks to their accessibility and affordability.
Their mix of teledentistry – or remote dental care – and orthodontist visits is especially important during Covid-19 where face-to-face consultations are reduced.
The company also raised US$13.6 million in a Series A funding round in 2019 to fuel its expansion to additional markets.
Founded in 2016, wealth management and personal finance app, StashAway helps users invest money in stocks and bonds and it has had quite a year so far.
In July, it raised a US$16 million Series C fundraising round bringing their paid-up capital to S$50.7 million.
The funds will help accelerate product development in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as support new market entry.
Furthermore, assets under StashAway’s management had more than quadrupled in the 12 months leading up to July.
Founded in 2013, food delivery startup Grain is a “full-stack” delivery platform, renting out cloud kitchens and offering a rotating menu of dishes with its own team of chefs and delivery fleet.
The company raised US$10 million in a 2019 seed round led by Thailand’s Singha Ventures and expanded into Thailand this year.
The proceeds will also ramp up growth in Singapore and build infrastructure to support revenue of US$100 million.
During the circuit breaker, standalone bubble tea shops were forced to close. Grain jumped onto the opportunity to partner with popular bubble tea chain Koi to sell food-and-drink combinations, and as a result, fans could still get their bubble tea fix.
Founded in 2016, Hmlet is the biggest co-living operator in Singapore with 1,000 homes, and another 1,000 in Hong Kong, Australia and Japan.
Amid its “asset-light” shift, it had laid off 10 per cent of its employees earlier this year to improve operational efficiency.
It has since hired and increased headcount for technology and new product offerings which includes a property listing and management platform for landlords.
It has continued to expand during the pandemic, adding properties in Tokyo and Singapore, and also launched a furniture subscription and online design service.
They Are Still Hiring
Despite seeing an unexpected turn of events during the pandemic, these startups have leveraged their online presence to meet increasing demand for online services, which saw a spike during the circuit breaker.
They have also pivoted their business models and/or search for new opportunities and revenue streams.
As their expand their business, some of the startups — such as ShopBack, Glints and Zenyum — continue to hire for roles ranging from software engineering to backend developing and performance marketing.
With the government’s continued support, and these startups’ constant adaptation to the current climate, it looks like they are determined to thrive, and grow in the era of Covid-19.
Featured Image Credit: ShopBack / Secretlab / Homage / Glints / GoBear
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