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S’pore startups score in Asia-Pacific rankings


SOME 18 Singapore startups have emerged winners at the 2014 Red Herring Asia Top 100 awards, a mark of distinction as the year’s most promising private tech ventures in Asia Pacific.

The number is second only to India’s crop of 30 – the highest for any country or city on the list – and puts the Repubic ahead of third-placed China, which boasts 12 winning startups.

The 18 from Singapore hail from a good mix of sectors: software and telecommunications to design and entertainment and media. One of them, aircraft design startup AirGo Design, impressed the judges with its “game-changing” reinvention of economy-class airplane seats.

“After more than 60 years, we’re the first company to finally come up with something new for the 99 per cent of passengers who fly economy,” founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Alireza Yaghoubi, told The Business Times.

With an ultra light and ergonomic human contour design, AirGo seats are almost 50 per cent lighter than current seats, allowing airlines to save millions of dollars in fuel consumption and carbon footprint, said Mr Yaghoubi. But there is no compromise on comfort too, he added, as AirGo seats come with an extra four inches of legroom and up to 12 per cent greater width – all in the same floor space.

“We’re definitely flattered to be among the top 100 this year (as) there was a huge number of very established companies that have been around for many years now. And to be part of that despite our young age is certainly a great honour,” he said. The startup’s seats will be ready for production in 2016.

Fellow local startup ViSenze, whose visual search technology allows users to upload photos to find items similar to those in the photos, said winning the award was a milestone and firm testament to the startup’s
innovation and potential.

“Red Herring editors were among the first to recognise that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Rakuten and Kakao would change the way we live and work,” said ViSenze’s CEO Oliver Tan.

“It’s also a timely highlight as we cross two years in our existence,” Mr Tan said of his startup, whose clientele incude leading e-commerce firms Rakuten Taiwan and Zalora.

Home-grown mobile solutions provider, Tagit, whose customers are mostly banks, said it was a great honour to be recognised on Red Herring’s prestigious list.

“We’re continuing to see increased demand for what we do, as enterprises and financial institutions around the world seek opportunities for greater customer satisfaction and retention through innovative
mobile services,” said CEO Sandeep Bagaria.

On the competition this year, Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of global media company Red Herring, said: “Entrepreneurship in Asia has reached an inflexion point, and as a result, Red Herring Asia 2014 has
shifted into a new phase.

“A second generation of entrepreneurs is emerging…their execution skills and global ambitions are leading to great companies, solid growth and a global footprint.”

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