AppWorks Year in Review 2018: Onwards Towards a Smart and Decentralized Future

  • In 2018, AppWorks Accelerator narrowed its focus to recruiting only AI / blockchain startups
  • AppWorks Funds invested US$ 15M across 11 deals spanning AI, blockchain, EC & fintech
  • The AppWorks Ecosystem reached US$ 3.6B in valuation, encompassing 328 startups & 925 founders
  • AppWorks initiates the first wave of internal promotions, yielding 2 new partners & associates

For AppWorks, 2018 marked a critical juncture in our organization’s history. After 16 batches and 8 years of operations, AppWorks Accelerator decided to narrow its semi-annual intake of startups to accept only those working with AI / blockchain technologies starting from batch AW#17. Meanwhile, AppWorks Funds carried out the first of several investments into AI / blockchain startups out of our newly minted US$ 100M Fund III.

Just as mobile had completely transformed the status quo for companies and startups alike over the last decade, we believe AI and blockchain, while still nascent technologies, will set forth a similarly disruptive paradigm shift and define an entirely new era for industries in the years to come. As such, AppWorks has iterated upon several aspects of our organization this past year to elevate our community and help founders fully embrace a smart and decentralized future.

Our latest accelerator batch AW#17 was the first instance of this iteration, ultimately yielding 34 teams, 21 working with AI/IoT & 13 with blockchain/crypto. With the addition of the 29 startups from AW#16, AppWorks Accelerator graduated a total of 63 startups in 2018, with 38% hailing from countries outside of Taiwan including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Belgium, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and the US.

On the venture capital side, AppWorks Funds made 11 investments collectively worth US$ 15M in several promising startups operating on the forefront of technologies including Deep Sentinel, XREX (AW#17), 91APP, Carousell, EMQ, and Pickone (AW#9), while helping them raise a total of US$ 222 million across these rounds.

The AppWorks Ecosystem now counts 328 active startups and 925 founders in its network. These AppWorks startups are generating US$ 2.5B in total annual revenues, growing at 90% year-over-year, and have created 9,586 jobs, increasing by 67% from the prior year. They have raised US$ 806M from both AppWorks Funds and third-party investors, up 82% from last year, and together exhibit a composite valuation of US$ 3.6B, roughly a 127% uptick over the last 12 months.

Our efforts this past year have allowed AppWorks to achieve a new echelon of success and truly revitalized our position as the strongest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia—and there are perhaps no better indicators of that status than the recent milestones achieved by a few of our alumni. Ztore (AW#13) and AsiaYo (AW#12) both closed a Series B round amounting to US$ 8M and US$ 7M+ respectively to accelerate vertical expansion and international growth. Meanwhile, Nuwa Robotics closed a US$ 10M Series A Round and Origami Labs (AW#15) a US$ 2.6M Seed Round to fuel product development and jumpstart market traction. Opting for a more alternative form of financing, Mr. Living (AW#12) and Cubo (AW#16) carried out successful crowdsourcing campaigns, raising US$ 700K and US$ 350K respectively.

With the region’s startup ecosystem rapidly maturing, the demand for quality talent has never been greater. We started AppWorks School in 2016 to cultivate talents for today’s digital career while at the same time infusing quality new blood into the ecosystem. In 2018, AppWorks School graduated 49 newly trained developers through our 14-week free coding programs. 85% of these graduates went on to pursue successful software engineering careers in prominent Internet companies such as 91APP, KKBOX, CHOCO TV, PicCollage, and UDN Group, with an average annual salary of US$ 20,400. Currently, our curriculum offers iOS, Android, and web development tracks, and will soon tack on a data science track in anticipation of changing talent demands.

To say it’s been a productive year would have been an understatement. Tapping into the collective effort of each and every one of our team members, we successfully shifted our focus to AI / blockchain and made substantial strides in empowering founders across Greater Southeast Asia to fully embrace a smart and decentralized future. Executing such a strategy also accelerated our team’s growth. A few of our members have matured to a point where they are ready to shoulder more responsibilities and take on newer challenges. We are therefore happy to announce that as of today, our Associates, Jessica Liu and Andy Tsai, have officially been promoted to Partners, while our Analysts, Alyssa Chen and Ching Tseng, are now Associates.

Finally, we’d like to extend a special thanks to all of our partners and friends in the startup community and look forward to working together to strengthen the regional ecosystem even further in 2019.