Home-grown tech firms strut their stuff

Home-grown tech firms strut their stuff

Home-grown tech firms strut their stuff

Home-grown tech firms strut their stuff



    Aug 08, 2014

    Home-grown tech firms strut their stuff

    THEY may be new, but they have their sights set on the world. Here are three up-and-coming Singapore tech companies to look out for.




    Innova Technology wants to make sure you never lose your valuables again.

    This Singapore start-up was co-founded by Rick Tan and Jonathan Lim, both 27.

    While studying at the Singapore Management University, Mr Tan and Mr Lim became friends. The idea of starting a company came to Mr Tan in early 2011.

    He lost his passport while on a trip overseas, and this sparked the idea for a device to alert people when they get separated from their valuables.

    The idea found favour with Red Dot Ventures - a technology incubator approved by the National Research Foundation - which invested $589,000 in Innova in 2012.

    This year, the start-up launched the Protag Duet, a Bluetooth tracking device roughly the size of a $1 coin, which can be attached to important items. When paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth, the alarm on the Duet goes off when it and the smartphone are separated by more than a set distance.

    When the project to build the device was launched on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo, it raised $130,000 in pre-orders, mainly from Singapore and the United States.

    That helped the company to earn more than $500,000 last year.

    This year, it released the Protag Elite, a thin, credit card-size gadget that works like the Duet, but is more suitable for slotting into wallets and passports.

    The company says its products are on sale in 10 countries, and it plans to launch two more products early next year.

    It is also looking to expand into the commercial sector. It is developing a Bluetooth beacon designed for location tracking.

    It plans to apply to Apple for iBeacon certification. iBeacon is Apple's trademark for small, cheap Bluetooth transmitters made by third-party manufacturers. They are used to signal nearby iOS 7 devices.

    For example, if an iOS 7 user passes a beacon in a store, the retailer's app, if installed, could alert the user to a special offer.




    You may be surprised to hear that Gavio is a home-grown brand.

    With its slick packaging and fashionable designs, the headphones it makes would not look out of place next to a fashionable pair of Beats cans.

    Founded by McCoy Holdings in 2010, the company also makes tablet cases, portable chargers and other accessories, but focuses mainly on headphones and portable speakers.

    Its products come in two styles. One line-up targets younger buyers, and showcases headphones with loud colours and striking designs. The other aims for elegance, featuring speakers with sleek, curved designs and headphones in muted, understated colours.

    Gavio has already won several awards here, including the Most Popular Brand award in 2012's Singapore Prestige Brand Awards.

    Last year, it partnered DC Comics and Warner Bros to launch a Superman-themed series of headphones and other accessories.

    Gavio said it has eight employees and earned US$5 million (S$6.25 million) in sales revenue last year. It sells mostly in Asia, but plans to expand its channels and distribution worldwide.

    It will launch new products next month at IFA Berlin 2014, an international consumer electronics and home appliance show.


    TouchPico is a small handheld projector that turns any surface into an 80-inch interactive touchscreen.

    The projector works with any Android app. A custom-designed stylus lets users interact with the screen.

    It is a project by a Singapore start-up called Touchjet, that was founded last year by Tom Li Jiang, 35, a Singapore permanent resident, and Liu Zhen, 36. They had been classmates at the Nanyang Technological University.

    Touchjet received $800,000 in funding from the Media Development Authority's i.Jam programme and the National Research Foundation, as well as investment firms Ruvento Ventures, and TNF Ventures.

    The projector reads the stylus' touch inputs, Mr Li explained, which opens TouchPico to a variety of uses, such as projecting movies at home, using it as a whiteboard in the classroom and playing games on a bigger screen.

    The company launched a crowdfunding campaign for TouchPico recently on Indiegogo. It raised more than US$200,000 in five days, more than its US$50,000 target. The drive ends on Aug 27.

    Touchjet, with seven employees now, operates in Singapore, the US and China. It is planning to set up a worldwide distribution network for the product.