It’s encouraging to see the startup scene in Singapore grow so fast. The groundswell isn’t only happening locally though; many startups in Asia see Singapore as a hub of sorts for the region, and some are even looking to set up shop here because the country has government-backed initiatives for startups from the likes of IDA or MDA, good IT infrastructure and an active entrepreneurial community. I came to this conclusion after attending unConference Singapore 2009 last week, an annual event organised by E27, (a local grassroots community that supports entrepreneurs and startups) where startups from across Asia can network and demo their latest products and services. The event is already in its third incarnation and most of the attendees I spoke to noted how much livelier and crowded this year’s session was.
It was also a chance for me to try out something new: blogger-style video interviews. I took the chance to interview three promising startups:
Aung Si Thu Hein, vice-president of Singapore-based Duration Inc., presents Klout, a tool it has developed that can help Twitter users track their influence across the web, and also for companies to identify who the big influencers and connectors are in their respective industries. Singapore brands and companies are already using Twitter as an alternative way to spread the word on their services and products. I reckon tools like Klout will grow in importance as social media takes centrestage on the web, and measurement and analytical tools are needed to quantify how effective the medium is.
Ken Brady, chief executive of Tokyo-based Genkii, gives me a peek at Sparkle, the first virtual world on the Apple iPhone. I’m particularly impressed at how easy it is to use and how neat the graphics looked on the smartphone. Virtual worlds, though exciting and immersive, can sometimes be hard to use and delve into. And you need to be tied to a desktop because it needs hefty processing power to render 3D graphics and you need to be connected to the web. But when you combine virtual worlds with the ease-of-use of devices like the iPhone and the smartphone’s ability to be mobile and perpetually connected to the Internet, it might make it all the more accessible.
Ben Scherrey from US-based eJAMMING showcased eJAMMING AUDiiO – a piece of software and accompanying service that allows musicians in remote places to meet and make friends and most importantly, to jam together live across the web with little latency (that’s delay to you and me) thanks to peer-to-peer technology. I’m somewhat of a bedroom musician (very amateurish at that) and love twiddling knobs on old synthesizers but find it more fun to jam with others, so I thought eJAMMING was a great idea – it’s been dubbed as a kind of Skype for musicians or an Internet-enabled incarnation of Apple’s Garageband (eJAMMING’s available for both Mac and Windows).