Pages Navigation Menu

The blog of DataDiggers

Categories Navigation Menu

CXA, a health-focused digital insurance startup, raises $25M

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in Asia, asia pacific, b capital, Banking, ceo, China, Co-founder, cxa group, economy, Eduardo Saverin, Europe, Facebook, Finance, funding, Fundings & Exits, healthcare, Indonesia, insurance, Louisiana, money, North America, openspace ventures, singtel, SingTel Innov8, Southeast Asia, Venture Capital | 0 comments

CXA Group, a Singapore-based startup that helps make insurance more accessible and affordable, has raised $25 million for expansion in Asia and later into Europe and North America.

The startup takes a unique route to insurance. Rather than going to consumers directly, it taps corporations to offer their employees health flexible options. That’s to say that instead of rigid plans that force employees to use a certain gym or particular healthcare, a collection over 1,000 programs and options can be tailored to let employees pick what’s relevant or appealing to them. The ultimate goal is to bring value to employees to keep them healthier and lower the overall premiums for their employers.

“Our purpose is to empower personalized choices for better living for employees,” CXA founder and CEO Rosaline Koo told TechCrunch in an interview. “We use data and tech to recommend better choices.”

The company is primarily focused on China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia where it claims to works with 600 enterprises including Fortune 500 firms. The company has over 200 staff, and it has acquired two traditional insurance brokerages in China to help grow its footprint, gain requisite licenses and its logistics in areas such as health checkups.

We last wrote about CXA in 2017 when it raised a $25 million Series B, and this new Series C round takes it to $58 million from investors to date. Existing backers include B Capital, the BCG-backed fund from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, EDBI — the investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board — and early Go-Jek backer Openspace Ventures, and they are joined by a glut of big-name backers in this round.

Those new investors include a lot of corporates. There’s HSBC, Singtel Innov8 (of Singaporean telco Singtel), Telkom Indonesia MDI Ventures (of Indonesia telco Telkom), Sumitomo Corporation Equity Asia (Japanese trading firm) Muang Thai Fuchsia Ventures (Thailand-based insurance firm), Humanica (Thailand-based HR firm) and PE firm Heritas Venture Fund.

“There are additional insurance companies and strategic partners that we aren’t listing,” said Koo.

Rosaline Koo is founder and CEO of CXA Group

That’s a very deliberate selection of large corporates which is part of a new strategy to widen CXA audience.

The company had initially gone after massive firms — it claims to reach a collective 400,000 employees — but now the goal is to reach SMEs and non-Fortune 500 enterprises. To do that, it is using the reach and connections of larger service companies to reach their customers.

“We believe that banks and telcos can cross-sell insurance and banking services,” said Koo, who grew up in LA and counts benefits broker Mercer on her resume. “With demographic and work life event data, plus health data, we’re able to target the right banking and insurance services.

“We can help move them away from spamming,” she added. “Because we will have the right data to really target the right offering to the right person at the right time. No firm wants an agent sitting in their canteen bothering their staff, now it’s all digital and we’re moving insurance and banking into a new paradigm.”

The ultimate goal is to combat a health problem that Koo believes is only getting worse in the Asia Pacific region.

“Chronic disease comes here 10 years before anywhere else,” she said, citing an Emory research paper which concluded that chronic diseases in Asia are “rising at a rate that exceeds global increases.”

“There’s such a crying need for solutions, but companies can’t force the brokers to lower costs as employees are getting sick… double-digit increases are normal, but we think this approach can help drop them. We want to start changing the cost of healthcare in Asia, where it is an epidemic, using data and personalization at scale in a way to help the community,” Koo added.

Talking to Koo makes it very clear that she is focused on growing CXA’s reach in Asia this year, but further down the line, there are ambitions to expand to other parts of the world. Europe and North America, she said, may come in 2020.


Source: The Tech Crunch

Read More

Southeast Asia’s Grab is adding Netflix-like video streaming to its ride-hailing app

Posted by on Jan 29, 2019 in Apps, Asia, carsharing, Collaborative Consumption, Commuting, Facebook, go-jek, Google, grab, hooq, India, Indonesia, Media, Netflix, on-demand services, Singapore, singtel, sony pictures, Southeast Asia, transport, Uber | 0 comments

Grab is Southeast Asia’s top ride-hailing firm thanks to its acquisition of Uber’s local business last year. Its biggest competitor gone, the company is on a push to go beyond transport and become an everyday ‘super app’ and that strategy just embraced video streaming today.

That’s because Grab is integrating video-on-demand service HOOQ — a local equivalent to Netflix — into its core ride-hailing app. The company, which is valued at $11 billion and raising a $5 billion round, already offers a range of services including food deliveries, payments, grocery delivery, travel deals and more. But, beyond utility, the focus is now shifting to entertainment, a category where Grab’s app currently sports only basic games.

Grab’s focus on these additional non-transportation services is designed to retain the attention of users and keep them engaged with its app even when they don’t need a ride. In that spirit, Grab announced a partnership platform last summer that’s aimed at helping companies in adjacent industries where it sees a fit to be integrated into its app. The benefit is potential access to Grab’s 130 million registered users which, aside from Western services like Facebook and Google, represents one of the largest digital platforms in Southeast Asia, where Grab is present in eight countries.

The rollout of HOOQ began earlier this month with Singapore and Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the world’s fourth most populous country, the focus initially.

“Singapore and Indonesia will be the first launch markets for this partnership, with a “Video” tile in the Grab app going live by the end of the first quarter. Philippines and Thailand will follow. Grab users will be offered a three-month access [pass] to HOOQ’s wide range of Hollywood and Asian titles, which can be played directly from the Grab app,” Grab said in a statement.

The companies didn’t disclose financial details, but HOOQ CEO Peter Bithos suggested Grab would receive a cut of revenue generated by subscription sign-ups generated by its app.

Leaning on Grab’s presence is certainly the appeal for HOOQ, which was started in 2015 by Singapore telco Singtel, Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers. Initially, a play to out-localize Netflix in Southeast Asia, HOOQ has recast its position somewhat in recent times — that’s included a free, advertising-supported tier launched last year and content deals with other on-demand services, including Hotstar in India.

Bithos, the HOOQ CEO, told TechCrunch that he believes Grab can support its growth and pivot from a cheaper but all-subscriber Netflix challenger to a freemium service that requires scale.

“Our strategy is around finding digital partners where we are complementary,” he explained in an interview. “We are building our tech and partnerships so that customers can easily bump into us without having to download an app or sign up to a different service.”

The HOOQ presence in Grab will include its full content library, Bithos confirmed.

“The deal is part of a much broader strategy for us,” he added. “We’re inverting the customer experience and putting HOOQ into other people’s products.”

Video in ride-hailing apps may sound unique but Go-Jek, Grab’s arch-rival headquartered in Indonesia, last year waded into video content, both through partnerships and its own productions. Even Uber has flirted with “in-ride content” to engage users, but it hasn’t delved into video yet.

With Go-Jek making the leap, it figures that Grab has followed with its own solution. Bithos said he is confident that the HOOQ-Grab tie-in is superior.

“Go-Jek hasn’t been able to get to anything like the scale or reach that we’ve got,” he said.

He suggested that the partnership allows Grab to focus on what it does best — rides — rather than other areas; that’s a concern that some sections of Grab’s user base have raised with its foray into other services.

“They don’t have to build video tech or focus on it,” he explained.


Source: The Tech Crunch

Read More

Stealthy Singapore VC firm Qualgro is raising a $100M fund

Posted by on Aug 21, 2018 in Asia, Australia, Entrepreneur, Fundings & Exits, golden gate ventures, openspace ventures, patsnap, shopback, Singapore, singtel, SingTel Innov8, Southeast Asia, TC | 0 comments

Southeast Asia’s venture capital space is booming right now. Openspace Ventures just announced the close of its newest $135 million fund, Golden Gate Ventures hit the first close on its upcoming $100 million vehicle, and a third Singapore-based fund is also raising big right now: Qualgro.

Unlike others, Qualgro has operated relatively under the radar to date.

That’s been very deliberate, according to managing partner Heang Chhor, who started the firm after leaving McKinsey following a 26-year stint that spanned Europe and Asia. Cambodian by birth, Chhor grew up in France and he rose to become a member of the McKinsey Global Board, whilst also leading the business in Japan.

Prior to McKinsey, Chhor started a number of businesses — of which he says he got a modest exit but plenty of experience — and now he is turning his attention to Southeast Asia, where growing internet access among a cumulative base of 650 million consumers is opening up new opportunities for tech and internet businesses. The region’s digital economy is forecast to pass $200 billion by 2020, up from an estimated $50 billion in 2017, according to a much-cited report from Temasek and Google.

Qualgro — which stands for ‘quality’ and ‘growth,’ in case you wondered — opened its doors in 2015 with a maiden $50 million fund. Alongside Chhor is Jason Edwards, formerly with PE firm Clearwater Capital and Peter Huynh, who joined from the Singtel Innov8 VC arm. To date, Qualgro has made 19 investments, which include IP and data firm Patsnap, e-commerce startup Shopback, and lending platform Funding Societies.

The aim is to super-size that with this new fund, which this week completed a first close of $60 million. The total target is $100 million. Qualgro didn’t comment on the identity of its LPs, but it said the increased capital will see it further its efforts on Series B deals.

The firm has focused on Series A and B deals in Southeast Asia so far with a primary interest in b2b businesses, and those that use data, AI, enterprise and Sass models. Beyond that b2b specialism, the firm looks to distinguish itself by offering international growth opportunities to its portfolio. That’s to say that Chhor uses his networks across the world to help Southeast Asia-based companies expand into new geographical markets — especially on issues like setting up offices and hiring — whilst also tapping his connections within the enterprise and business worlds.

“As a Southeast Asia-based VC, we are looking for talented people that are able to grow their company regionally and potentially become a real global player. It’s a little bit difficult because as a Southeast Asian entrepreneur you need to have certain skills and be on the right business model to access the global world and compete successfully [but] we invest in this type of talent irrespective of their country in Southeast Asia,” Chhor told TechCrunch.

[Left to right] Heang Chhor, Qualgro founder and managing partner, Jason Edwards, co-founder and partner, and Peter Huynh, co-founder and partner

That’s been most visible with its efforts in Australia to date. For example, Qualgro has worked closely with Shopback to expand its service into the country. While Patsnap, too, has leveraged its investor to expand into Europe, where it has a sizeable operation in addition to its Singapore HQ.

But the strategic deals also flow the other way.

Qualgro is looking to back companies that seek the opportunities to move into Southeast Asia. To date that has seen it get active in the Australian market, where it has done more deals that other Southeast Asian VC firm. Those include Data Republic, which has expanded to Singapore with plans to go beyond that, too.

Chhor explained that, beyond its current scope on Southeast Asia and Australia, the firm is open to pursuing deals with companies in markets like Europe and Japan when there are opportunities for Qualgro to come in as a strategic investor help grow businesses and expand networks across Asia.

Indeed, Qualgro’s focus on international is reflected in its team which consists of six people in Singapore with one in Australia and an advisor in Europe.


Source: The Tech Crunch

Read More

Balbix raises $20M for a predictive approach to enterprise cybersecurity

Posted by on Jun 27, 2018 in Asia, balbix, bromium, Cisco, equifax, Fundings & Exits, john chambers, mayfield fund, san jose, Security, Singapore, singtel, SingTel Innov8, Southeast Asia, TC | 0 comments

Security breaches are a disaster for corporate companies, but good news if you’re someone who offers preventative solutions. Today in 2018, wide-ranging attacks on the likes of Equifax, Sony Pictures and Target have only added value to those charged with safeguarding companies.

Balbix, one such solutions provider, has pulled in a $20 million Series B to grow its business and try to prevent high-profile cybersecurity disasters using a predictive model of measuring and assessing threats.

The round is led by Singtel Innov8, the corporate fund of Singapore telco Singtel which owns Trustwave and is active in the security space, and Mubadala Ventures, the Abu Dhabi firm that’s well known for backing SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund. Existing Balbix investor Mayfield Fund also took part alongside angels including ex-Cisco CEO John Chambers, former Cisco EVP Pankaj Patel and entrepreneurs BV Jagadeesh and Gary Gauba.

Balbix raised $8.6 million a year ago when it came out of stealth although the company was first founded 2.5 years ago by CEO Gaurav Banga (photographed above), who was a founder of Bromium, a fellow security company that has raised over $115 million from investors.

This time around with Balbix, Banga is turning predictive. The company’s platform uses a combination of smarts like artificial intelligence and machine learning to essentially map out all potential vulnerabilities within an organization. That could range from varying operating system version numbers to weak employee passwords, one employee’s poorly-secured laptop and beyond. The Balbix system plugs into existing operational security products to offer reactive responses and to create a real-time view of an organization’s security health and any weaknesses.

“At enterprise scale, keeping everything up to snuff is very hard,” CEO Gauba told TechCrunch in an interview. “Most organizations have little visibility into attack surfaces, the right decisions aren’t made and projects aren’t secured.”

“We started this company so that we could use cutting-edge machine learning algorithms to automatically and comprehensively measure the security and attack surface, and to produce relevant insights for all stakeholders,” he added. “You look at the numbers and you could easily have hundreds of millions or tens of billions of data points to watch for vulnerabilities — you have to make sure they are ok.”

The timing certainly seems opportune, with data breaches seemingly in the headlines on a regular basis. In particular, in the case of Equifax, the implications of the attack went to the C-level management and boardroom.

“2017 was special,” Gauba said. “Ask any CIO, CEO, or board member of a public company and that was the year that everyone woke up [and] figured their careers were at risk. It should have happened before but it took he Equifax breach… they realized this thing is real and it can have a career-altering impact on their work and personal life.”

“The CSO was always the fall guy before, but now it can go all the way up,” he added. “One of our challenges we face now is how do you answer a board member or CEO’s questions on security. For us, the answer is simple: if you can’t measure something then you can’t improve it, the right decisions are based on data so go ahead and find that data.”

Unlike other solutions, Balbix doesn’t charge security companies by the event — aka attacks — so it remains invested in preventing those kinds of scenarios from happening.

For this round, Gauba said that the company was focused on raising “smart money” that goes beyond simply providing capital to offer strategic value, too. The company does have international reach in terms of customers — which include both enterprise customers and global managed security service providers (MSSP) — and sales but for now its only office is San Jose.

Internationalization is certainly an area where Singtel Innov8 and Mubadala Ventures — located in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, respectively — can lend a hand, and the company itself is weighing up international offices.


Source: The Tech Crunch

Read More