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20 Hottest Startups of 2024

Sustainability-focused startups dominated the list.

The 2024 Hottest Startups list reflects the growing focus of investors and entrepreneurs on sustainability, with various sectors well represented and the AI domain not surprisingly taking up four slots in this year’s lineup.

Apart from AI startups belonging to different sectors, financial services also took two places in the Top 20.

READ MORE: Sustainability, biomedical startups draw investors, founder focus

This list of the last three years’ brightest startups are backed by top venture capital firms such as 500 Global, SC Ventures, Antler, East Ventures, Wavemaker Partners, Y Combinator, Global Founders Capital, Sequoia Capital India, and Franklin Templeton.

Founder/s: Hamish Macalister and Mauro Sauco
Total Funding: US$3.6m
Founding Year: 2021 (Feb)

Hamish Macalister and Mauro Sauco

Transparently.AI has created an AI system that detects accounting manipulation and fraud. It determines the likelihood of fraudulent activity or serious manipulation in a company’s financial records; evaluates the risk of total corporate failure; estimates financial losses to stakeholders; tracks the evolution of such misconduct over time; and provides detailed analytics on the forms of manipulation or fraud, including specific areas of concern within the accounts and recommended investigative strategies. They secured investment from Franklin Templeton as part of their acceptance into the asset manager’s FinTech Incubator programme.

Founder/s: Jascha Zittel & Elliott Gibb
Total Funding: US$2.3M
Founding Year: 2021 (March)

Elliott Gibb & Jascha Zittel

Mercu is a groundbreaking platform designed to transform the hiring, training, and engagement of frontline workers in the restaurant, retail, and other deskless industries. Addressing the high turnover rates that cost businesses approximately US$8,000 per shift worker replacement, Mercu leverages widely used chat apps like WhatsApp and Line to facilitate seamless communication and engagement between employers and employees. Clients like Guzman y Gomez experienced a reduction in candidate processing time from 45 minutes to less than 15 minutes. Their investors include Sequoia Capital India, TEN13, 500 Global, Flying Fox Ventures, Archangel Ventures, and XA Network.

Writer Zen
Founder/s:  Nguyen Manh Linh  (English name: Daniel)
Total Funding: US$1.3m+
Founding Year: 2021 (Apr)

Nguyen Manh Linh

WriterZen is the pioneer content SEO toolset for content lifecycle. It is meticulously crafted to accommodate users of all SEO proficiency levels. According to a case study featured on its website, WriterZen facilitated an impressive 5x surge in traffic, a remarkable 75% uptick in signups, and a substantial 30% rise in conversions for a client. WriterZen spearheaded an impressive 300% enhancement in SEO outcomes for clients while significantly reducing the timeframe from 15 months to just eight. Noteworthy investors such as Wavemaker Partners have recognised the potential of WriterZen, contributing to its success in the seed funding round.

Silicon Box
Founder/s: Dr. Byung Joon (BJ) Han, Dr. Sehat Sutardja, Weili Dai
Total Funding: US$410M
Founding Year: 2021 (May)

Dr. Byung Joon (BJ) Han, Weili Dai, Dr. Sehat Sutardja,

Silicon Box  is pioneering the future of semiconductor manufacturing with its ground-breaking sub-5-micron chiplet integration technology which significantly accelerates the design cycle of chiplets, slashing the cost of producing new devices by up to 90%. By employing the world’s first standardised large-format production method for advanced packaging, Silicon Box enables the shortest interconnections and high performance integration at low cost. This approach not only boosts electrical performance by over 50% but also reduces power consumption by more than 40%. Their recent investment in Nord Italia will introduce Europe to a pioneering end-to-end chiplet-based semiconductor system integration and first-of-a-kind packaging capacity.

Muuse, Ltd.
Founder/s:  Jonathan Tostevin
Total Funding: $US1m
Founding Year: 2021 (October)

Jonathan Tostevin

Muuse, short for “multiple use,” is a Reuse as a Service (RaaS) platform that aims to eliminate single-use waste through trusted, data-driven reuse systems. So far, Muuse has diverted over 250,000 single-use items from landfill and contributed to significant reduction of carbon emissions by partnering with large-scale events and festivals, projects with corporates and universities, and cafe networks across Asia and North America. With its headquarters in Singapore’s ever-growing tech landscape, Muuse provides a flexible, traceable, software platform to allow multinational corporations and municipal authorities to build and scale their own reuse systems — making reuse the norm, not the alternative.

Founder/s:  Harry Conor Lucas and Sudharshan Raman
Total Funding: US$2.5M
Founding Year: 2021 (Nov)

Harry Conor Lucas and Sudharshan Raman

Phasio, a Singapore-based SaaS company, provides a Customer Collaboration Workspace that empowers regional industrial manufacturers to develop and deliver more products to their clients. The platform helps industrial manufacturers grow their web presence, automate and optimise internal processes like quoting, and ensure that their production process remains compliant with industry standards. With customers across Asia, Oceania, Europe and the United States and a rapidly growing user-base, Phasio raised a US$2.5-m seed round from Airtree Ventures and 500 Global in 2023.

Founder/s: Daan van Rossum, Jonah Levey, Greg Marschall
Total Funding: $US1m+
Founding Year: 2022 (September)

Jonah Levey, Daan van Rossum, Greg Marschall

With the goal of creating a happier future of work, FlexOS delivers research reports, expert interviews, and comprehensive software buying guides to empower people-centric leaders to take charge of their organisations amidst major disruptions like AI and remote work. One of their general partners, Do Ventures, regards FlexOS as a “high potential team with extensive industry knowledge and a great passion for creating the ideal employee experience in the new era of work.”

Goodgang Labs
Founder/s: Dookyung Ahn (CEO), Jaecheol Kim (CTO), Seoyoung Kim (CCO, Chief Creative Officer)
Total Funding: US$3.6M+
Founding Year: 2022 (January)

Dookyung Ahn, Jaecheol Kim, Seoyoung Kim

GoodGang Labs’ avatar-based social platform, Kikiz, blends human personalities with AI, creating a unique, engaging user experience. The platform is designed to forge human-AI personas by leveraging Real-Time Text to Speech and Motion Avatar technology. This ground-breaking approach leverages cutting-edge AI technology to personalise avatars, making digital interactions more relatable and immersive. GoodGang Labs’ platform stands out by enabling users to express themselves through 3D avatars that learn from their human counterparts, creating a seamless blend of human intuition and AI intelligence. Just last year, Kakao Investment invested in GoodGng Labs’ seed funding with the belief that avatars hold vast potential to revolutionise online identity expression.

Founder/s: Christopher Withers
Total Funding: $8M 
Founding Year: 2022 (January)

Christopher Withers

Singapore-based Klikit is a venture dedicated to empowering restaurants amidst the growing e-commerce industry for food. The venture offers first-of-its-kind “all-in-one” technology for restaurants to promote efficiency when managing all kinds of orders, be it in-store, delivery, or pickup. Backed by Global Founders Capital, Wavemaker Partners, Gentree and more, Klikit has helped restaurants process millions of transactions, amassing these across thousands of brands and businesses in Asia Pacific.

Founder/s: Stevan Lukic, Mirko Vairo
Total Funding: US$300k
Founding Year: 2022 (May)

Stevan Lukic &Mirko Vairo

Civils.ai is a web platform that is committed to providing seamless solutions for construction work. Civils.ai equips users, including project managers, engineers, architects, and geologists with the relevant tools to work efficiently and to boost productivity. The platform specialises in geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, tunnel engineering, temporary works, and construction data, and is currently backed by Antler and Iterative, two of the world’s leading software investors.

Incy Tech
Founder/s:  Sparsh and Shivansh Anand
Total Funding: Undisclosed
Founding Year: 2022 (May)

Shivansh Anand and Sparsh

Incy tech’s main product is the thermal floater. By harnessing the sun’s thermal heat, it floats on water bodies to generate electricity economically, democratising renewable energy access. Its modular design allows easy scalability for various applications, making it cost-effective for remote areas and research bases. Incy tech’s main objective is to reduce non-renewable energy dependency that will both benefit the environment and human health. These young entrepreneurs have been self-funding and bootstrapping their research and development efforts from personal resources. They are excited about the progress made so far and eagerly anticipate potential opportunities for growth and collaboration in the future.

Founder/s: Vivek Gudapuri and Matteo Pelati
Total Funding: US$3M
Founding Year: 2022 (July)

Matteo Pelati and Vivek Gudapuri

The startup offers instant real-time data integration allowing engineers to build personalised customer-facing data and AI products. Dozer’s technology allows for unlocking the value of data by offloading various application databases and data silos to build low latency data application programming interfaces or APIs. Dozer bridges the gap between AI and data worlds by automatically constructing the semantics to be easily integrated into large language model (LLM) applications. Dozer boasts superior performance over its competitors, providing a robust and efficient solution for businesses in need of rapid development cycles for their data applications. Their investors include Peak XV’s Surge, Gradient Ventures, and January Capital.

Founder/s: Glenn Lai, Felix Lu, Steve Patuwo
Total Funding: US$1.5M
Founding Year: 2022 (July)

Glenn Lai and Felix Lu

Fr8Labs aims to simplify the complex logistics landscape by providing a next-generation AI-enabled platform that consolidates information in one system which manages and tracks shipments with access to both freight forwarders and customers, allowing streamlined processes, reduced costs and an overall enhanced shipment experience. Fr8Labs now seeks to scale up the digitalisation of Asia’s logistics industry. Fr8Labs investors include East Ventures, FEBE Ventures, Kaya Founders, Seedstars, and Venturra, among others.

Founder/s:  Pritam Dutta and Koushik Bhargav
Total Funding: US$2.5M
Founding Year: 2022 (Oct)

Koushik Bhargav and Pritam Dutta

Zoth is breaking global barriers, facilitating free capital flow worldwide. This initiative fosters more open, transparent, and efficient access to finance. By connecting assets and liquidity across Traditional Finance and Onchain Finance (OnFi), with blockchain technology at its core, Zoth promotes greater financial inclusion. Their investors include SOSV Orbit Startup, Blockchain Founders Fund, Orbit Startups, Momentum6, Borderless Capital, Mindfulness Capital, Yap Capital, Singularity DAO, Altzan Capital and GravityX.

Founder/s:  Jake Berber and Ding Jie Tan
Total Funding: US$2M
Founding Year: 2022 (Nov)

Jake Berber & Ding Jie Tan

Prefer makes coffee without coffee beans to future-proof coffee from the threat of climate change. Their fermentation technology creates coffee flavours from byproducts of food production. They distribute coffee grounds, bottled lattes, and cold-brew concentrate business-to-business (B2B). Prefer’s mission is to ensure coffee is delicious, accessible, and sustainable forever. Earlier this year, Prefer secured a US$2-m seed round from investors including Forge Ventures, 500 Global, Pickup Coffee, and more to grow in Asia. Investors like 500 Global see the potential, noting, “Prefer’s innovative fermentation tech is paving the way to recreate our favourite flavours, starting with coffee.”

Yuma AI
Founder/s: Guillaume Luccisano
Total Funding: US$3.8m
Founding Year: Early 2023

Guillaume Luccisano

Yuma, developed by Silicon Valley veterans, debuted alongside ChatGPT. They are dedicated to AI integration for Shopify merchants to enhance customer service. Yuma fully embraces AI disruption, foreseeing a transformative shift in customer service within 1-2 years. Their mission is to equip merchants with cutting-edge AI tools while supporting agents in delivering exceptional service. Leveraging the latest AI breakthroughs, Yuma automates customer service for large Shopify merchants with Auto-Pilot agents capable of resolving support tickets and taking actions in external services for true automation. Their investors include Y Combinator, Pi Campus and Motier.

Founder/s: Aaron Gwak
Total Funding: Undisclosed
Founding Year: 2023 (January)

Aaron Gwak

Libeara, a tokenisation venture by SC Ventures, is an institutional-grade technology platform that brings accessibility, transparency, and security to government bond markets and the fund management industry. It also supports the various tokenisation endeavours of the broader Standard Chartered Group and its clients. In its first use case, Libeara’s technology was used for the SGD Delta Fund, the first tokenised SGD fund available on a public blockchain. The SGD Delta Fund is the first tokenised fund to be independently rated by Moody’s Investor Service, achieving an “AA” rating based on the underlying quality and strength of the token structure.

Mito Health
Founder/s: Kenneth Lou
Total Funding: USD1.5M (2M SGD)
Founding Year: 2023 (January)

From left to right: Dr Ryan Ware, Kenneth Lou, Joel Kek, Tee-Ming Chew

Mito Health leads the way in digital preventive healthcare, aiming to shift the industry’s focus from reactive to proactive health management. The digital longevity clinic offers a virtual platform that comprehensively assesses clients’ and is aimed at extending healthspan and overall longevity. By integrating blood test results with lifestyle data, Mito Health generates customised recommendations for nutrition, exercise, and supplements, all accessible through a virtual health dashboard. With a flagship panel testing 67 biomarkers, Mito Health distinguishes itself by providing executive-level screening at a fraction of the cost. They have several angel investors with Forge Ventures as their main investor.

Founder/s: Kelvin Tan
Total Funding: Undisclosed
Founding Year: 2023 (August)

audax is a digital banking solutions provider backed by SC Ventures, empowering banks and financial institutions to scale and modernise at speed through establishing a new digital bank, Banking-as-a-Service, or modernisation of existing infrastructure. audax has enabled new business models and revenue streams for Standard Chartered under the SC nexus proposition, becoming the first global bank to provide Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) in Asia.

Infinity Cube
Founder/s:  Oh Jun Rong
Total Funding: Undisclosed
Founding Year: 2023 (October)

Oh Jun Rong

Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) is a ground-breaking advancement in energy storage; and Infinity Cube is spearheading innovation as a specialist in construction applications. By seamlessly integrating renewable energy like wind and solar power, the Infinity Cube effectively balances energy production and consumption in construction operations. In doing so, it reduces carbon emissions by up to 80% and significantly reduces the sector’s reliance on diesel generators. The Infinity Cube offers a sustainable and cost-effective solution, with cost reductions of up to 50% for businesses. This transformative technology powers construction sites and beyond, enabling progress without compromise.

READ MORE: Days of excess are over, investors warn founders

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