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Grain is one of several food tech participants in the #SupportStartups scheme. Image credit: Grain

Southeast Asian VCs band together to provide Covid-19 support for startups

April 1, 2020

Venture capital firms in Southeast Asia are teaming up to lead the charge against Covid-19’s chilling effect on the region’s tech industry.

500 Startups has joined forces with Singapore-based counterparts Cocoon Capital and Openspace Ventures to launch a revenue-boosting initiative for Southeast Asia’s B2C and B2B startups. Government agency Enterprise Singapore is supporting the project.

Dubbed #SupportStartups, the scheme will collate a range of special offers and promos from a range of early-stage companies on one website, in an effort to drive more traffic to each business as the Covid-19 slowdown takes hold.

As of the initiative’s official launch today, over 250 startups from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines had applied to have their offers listed on the portal.

Each startup that registers will get $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credits.

The 50 companies featured on the #SupportStartups site so far operate in verticals including food and beverage and restaurant software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Singaporean restaurant booking app Chope is offering 50% off at hundreds of eating joints across the city-state. Its compatriots Boxgreen and Grain – which deliver personalized meals and snack boxes to homes and offices – are each offering 15% discounts, as is coffee subscription service Hook Coffee.

On the restaurant SaaS front, Foodrazor will waive three months of subscription fees for food outlets that want to try out the full version of its invoice management and cost intelligence suite. Grocery marketing platform YoRipe will forgo its $1,200 setup fee for new clients.

“[Our] efforts in responding to this crisis extend beyond our immediate portfolio to the larger ecosystem of startups,” said Hian Goh, partner at Openspace Ventures, which counts food-delivery giant Gojek, alternative protein maker Nutrition Technologies, and ag martketplace TaniHub among its portfolio companies.

“We know that all startups are at risk, and we need to try to protect them all. This is our community, and #SupportStartups is our way of saying that we’re 100% in this together.”

As restaurants see big layoffs amid Covid-19, farming and fast food seek quick hires; read our coverage here.

A separate but like-minded regional scheme is SEAcosystem, a community-led talent database that seeks to link tech workers who find themselves out of a job due to Covid-19 with businesses on the lookout for new hires. It has been set up by a group of Southeast Asia-based VC firms and startup studios, and is being managed by Saison Capital principal Chia Jeng Yang, FutureLabs Ventures analyst Simin Liu, and communications consultant Rachael De Foe.

Individuals with at least one year’s work experience can apply to be listed on the database via an online form. Each applicant’s submission will be vetted by one of SEAcosystem’s supporting firms before being uploaded to the database, which also features a list of open job opportunities.

Grain co-founder and CEO Yi Sung Yong said that support initiatives like these leave him “confident that we will come out of these challenges better, and together.”

“The well-being of our customers and teams are our top priority and we have adapted our business for the new normal, while supporting food rescue partners and our healthcare heroes in these challenging times,” he added.

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