DBS Bank To Invest S$10 Million In Singapore Startup Ecosystem

Singapore’s DBS Bank has announced it will invest S$10 million in initiatives that will support the development of the startup ecosystem in Singapore over the next five years. These initiatives include DBS owned programmes, partnerships with accelerators and other startup programmes.

DBS HotSpot, the first pre-accelerator programme created by an Asian bank, kicks off the series of initiatives. The programme is designed to help very early stage startups develop their ideas by offering them a SGD 25,000 entrepreneur award, workspace and access to industry mentors. Unlike other accelerators, DBS HotSpot does not require the startup to have an existing prototype or operating business. Importantly, DBS does not take an equity stake from the participating teams.

Neal Cross, Chief Innovation Officer, DBS Bank, said, “Singapore is becoming a thriving startup ecosystem and with our roots as the Development Bank of Singapore, we are keen to help grow the community. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, taking that initial plunge, leaving their stable jobs and following their startup dreams can be a daunting process. The DBS HotSpot is designed to support local startups in the very early stages of testing their ideas and getting them off the ground. Subsequently, we will continue to support them through later stage accelerators and industry programmes.”

During the three-month programme, DBS HotSpot participants worked with leading industry mentors including angel investors and DBS executives. The success of the programme has captured the attention of the startup community and interest in the second intake.

Max Tiong, DBS Innovation Group Startup and Ecosystems Lead, DBS Bank, added, “We discovered that there are many Singaporeans, from all walks of life, who have great business ideas – but an idea is just an idea unless you go out and do something about it! The first 11 DBS HotSpot startups have been through a rigorous programme of testing and refining their ideas to turn these into commercially viable products. This is just the start for them but they are now in much better shape to go to market and to attract future funding.”

The startups worked on ideas spanning social innovation to fintech, including:

  • Reducing poverty in Vietnam through bike production – BambooBike
  • Using gamification to motivate people to run – Mirri
  • Enabling consumers to shop online collectively and enjoy greater bargains – BeMex
  • Helping migrant workers remit funds home quickly – Nickel
  • Enabling SMEs to auction unpaid invoices for quick cash – InvoiceInterchange
Both Nickel and InvoiceInterchange have been accepted to Startupbootcamp FinTech FastTrack. Investors have also displayed keen interest in InvoiceInterchange.

Dennis Goh, founder of HungryGoWhere and partner at Wavemaker Partners is a DBS HotSpot mentor. “This experience takes me back to my early days of founding HungryGoWhere. It has been extremely rewarding over the last three months helping these young people develop their idea to the stage where they now have a number of sign-ups and potential business partners,” Goh said.



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