Speech recognition experts Uniphore have secured an undisclosed amount of funding, reports the Economic Times. The investment comes from the Indian Angel Network, YourNest Angel Fund, and Stata Venture Partners’ founder Ray Stata. Uniphore make speech recognition tools for five international languages, but the Chennai startup’s speciality area is India’s numerous native languages – it has 14 of those covered. Like with Apple’s Siri or Google Now, the software understands natural human speech.
Jason Lamuda is one of those people who rarely goes to networking events in Indonesia, but everybody knows him for the successful ventures he co-founded: daily deals site Disdus, which was acquired by Groupon in 2011, and the female fashion ecommerce site BerryBenka 1 which successfully raised its series B funding round late last year. Lamuda was one of many Indonesians who fled his home due to the riots in 1998. He continued his studies in Singapore and then followed in the footsteps of his brothers to study abroad in the US. Lamuda took courses in chemical engineering at Purdue University because according to his research, chemical engineering graduates tend to have good salaries. He hadn’t thought about running his own business at the time. During his time in the US he grew amazed at how technology was helping shape people’s lives. He used internet services like Amazon regularly. Lamuda was also impressed with the people who created these life-changing companies. “The founders were people of various backgrounds; whether they were rich or poor, or did not understand tech that much, but they could make it and change the world for the better,” says Lamuda. It is from this experience that Lamuda developed an eagerness to start something in the tech industry on his own.
Popular Japanese news reader app Gunosy has closed a funding round led by local telco KDDI, according to The Bridge. The amount was not disclosed, but The Bridge estimates somewhere between US$12 million and US$14 million. A chunk of the new investment will go toward TV advertisements, which have a proven track record in Japan of attracting users. The most notable example is social chat app Line, whose famous sticker characters even have their own TV show. Other apps advertising on TV there include KakaoTalk, DeNA’s Comm, and several mobile games. Gunosy’s main revenue stream comes from display advertisements, which are highly targeted depending on the content of the article. The ad technology is likely the real attraction for investors, as the advertisements on the app have performed well since launching last November.
Just a month back, Vietnamese Dong Nguyen created Flappy Bird, which became a global hit. Following its success, two Filipino developers created Pugo, the now-famous Philippine version of Flappy Bird. Pugo was developed by a Filipino couple, Patrick and Camy Cabral, with a simple desire to release their first mobile game. It just so happened that Pugo was placed on the App Store right after Nguyen removed Flappy Bird. This led to a good number of downloads for the game. In an Instagram post by Patrick two weeks ago, it showed that Pugo hit the top spot in the Philippine App Store only 48 hours after the game was published. At the moment, the developers are still unable to track the daily unique users of the app, but according to its in-app leaderboard, there are already more than 107,000 players that has a recorded score on Pugo.
Berry Kitchen, an online catering service in Indonesia, announced today that it received seed funding in the amount of IDR 500 million ($43,700) from ANGIN, the female-oriented angel network fund run by Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI). Berry Kitchen offers daily catering services as well as bentos for people to order online. (See: GEPI Sets Up Angel Investor Network in Indonesia with Female Entrepreneurs in Mind) The head of Berry Kitchen is former Groupon Indonesia team member Cynthia Tenggara. She has received guidance from Groupon Indonesia co-founders Ferry Tenka and Jason Lamuda in the new venture.
Recently Dutch regulators in Holland opened the gates by allowing any company, for example Apple, BMW or your local Gas firm – to issue its own open SIM card, these SIM’s would not be configured to any specific carrier. This is an example of the first country to change the rules but what would happen if others follow the Netherlands lead? There could be big changes to the way we purchase mobile phones and services not to mention wider access to the internet.
Innovation in Vietnam can come from the most interesting places. There’s a startup with motorbike theft prevention hardware. There’s one that crowdsources for tours. There’s another that focuses totally on ecommerce logistics. And don’t get me started on Flappy Bird. The list goes on. This week, Topica, one of Vietnam’s most successful online learning platforms, is doing something a bit different with English education. The company, which was founded in 2008, already offers certification online, coordinates with colleges to offer online learning support, and also runs the Founder’s Institute annual incubator program. Now it’s experimenting with using Google Glass to teach students English. The program is called TopMito. As this video shows, Google Glass is being used to allow a teacher that sits at home to coach students that go to a local coffee shop in Hanoi, Vietnam. The coffee shop is working in coordination with Topica because it has foreign expat waiters who can interact with the students in English, allowing the students to use English in a practical way.
Singapore bitcoin ATM producer Tembusu announced today it has closed its seed funding round and raised over S$300,000 (US$236,600), just one and a half weeks after launching its first machine and after the company itself was valued at S$5.1m (US$4.02m).
Company spokesman Jarrod Luo said the extra capital would form the bulk of the working capital the startup requires to “fulfill its outstanding machine orders in a timely fashion”, including stockpiling raw materials and expanding its team.
Tembusu was the first company to open a bitcoin ATM in Singapore, and it is also the first to design and manufacture its machines there. It is also Asia’s first home-grown bitcoin ATM producer, having just beaten South Korea’s Coinplug to launch by a couple of days.
At press time Singapore has six active bitcoin ATMs, with several companies racing to increase that number. Another Singapore company, Bitcoin Exchange, launched a Lamassu ATM in a busy Singapore shopping mall right after Tembusu’s release.
Online food ordering site Meican has secured US$10 million in series B funding to help it grow and expand into more cities across China. Nokia Growth Partners was the lead investor in Meican this time, along with first-round investors KPCB. Meican – which is roughly pronounced "may-tsahn", back in 2011 when starting up covered about 9,500 restaurants only in the Beijing area. Since then it has grown to have partnerships with 35,000 restaurants and fast food joints in five cities – the capital, plus Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Tianjin.
Last April, Dong Nguyen, a quiet 28-year-old who lived with his parents in Hanoi, Vietnam, and had a day job programming location devices for taxis, spent a holiday weekend making a mobile game. He wanted it to be simple but challenging, in the spirit of the Nintendo games he grew up playing. The object was to fly a bug-eyed, big-lipped, bloated bird between a series of green vertical pipes. The quicker a player tapped the screen, the higher the bird would flap. He called it Flappy Bird.
The game went live on the iOS App Store on May 24th. Instead of charging for Flappy Bird, Nguyen made it available for free, and hoped to get a few hundred dollars a month from in-game ads.