Pace Raises USD40 Million Series A Funding from Pan-Asian Group of Investors from Singapore, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia

Editor’s note: AppWorks is proud to be participating in Pace’s Series A. Together with our founder community with more than 400 startups, we’d be helping team Pace paving their way to enter Taiwan market. The press release from Pace as below:

・Series A investors include Japan’s Marubeni Ventures, South Korea’s Atinum Partners, Taiwan’s AppWorks, Indonesia’s Alpha JWC, and Singapore’s UOB Venture Management, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia, and Genesis Alternative Ventures

・Funding from local investors supports and strengthens Pace to forge ahead with its expansionary plans to Japan, Korea, and Taiwan

・Pace took only a year to grow into a Pan-Asian BNPL provider and is on track to hit Gross Merchandise Value run rate of USD1 billion in 2022

Pace, a Singapore-based fintech solution company that allows customers to ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL), today announced that it has raised USD40 million in its Series A investment round. Investors that joined the round include UOB Venture Management (Singapore), Marubeni Ventures (Japan), Atinum Partners (SouthKorea), AppWorks (Taiwan), and a series of family offices from Japan and Indonesia. Previous investors, Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia, Alpha JWC, and Genesis Alternative Ventures also participated.

Turochas ‘T’ Fuad, Founder and CEO of Pace, said: “This investment from some of the most successful and established investors signals confidence that Pace is a leading BNPL player in Asia. The region is expected to become the world’s fastest-growing BNPL market, and this funding supports Pace in achieving its mission of democratizing financial services for all, by helping us pave our expansion into Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.”

“We are impressed by Pace and the founder’s clear vision, rapid growth, and experience not only in BNPL payments but in its progress in creating financial inclusion, and remain confident in their ability to revolutionize financial services. With this funding, we are excited to join them on their journey forward,” said Paul Ng, Executive Director at UOB Venture Management.

Joon Oh, Executive Director, Atinum Partners Co., Ltd, commented: “The financial services industry in Asia is shifting dynamically, but Pace has managed to establish primacy in markets by tapping into local consumer curves to establish itself as a dominant player with its clear vision. Through this funding, we hope for Pace to continue empowering more people across Asia with innovative fintech services.”

Following this investment round, Pace is now the fastest growing multi-territory BNPL player from Singapore. The new funding will go towards expanding technology, operations, and business development, to hit a Gross Merchandise Value run rate of USD1 billion in 2022 and grow its user base by 25X over the next 12 months.

To date, Pace has more than 3,000 points-of-sale across the region, driven by Pace’s ability to increase overall sales up to 25% by leveraging local customer insights, while driving repeat purchases from Pace’s fast-growing base of users.

Chua Joo Hock, Managing Partner of Vertex Ventures SEA and India, added: “Since leading its seed round, we have seen Pace grow by leaps and bounds. It has demonstrated excellence in expanding its users and merchants significantly to become a leading regional BNPL player. BNPL will become more prevalent in Asia, and our continuing funding in Pace reaffirms our belief in the strong execution capability of T and his team, and the hyper- growth prospects of the Company.”

Launched in 2021 by Turochas ‘T’ Fuad, Pace has successfully grown its overseas operations by working closely with regulators and adapting ultra-local approaches, such as integrating frequently used in-market payment methods to build resonance with merchants and shoppers. It will continue to replicate a hyperlocal framework as it goes live in new countries.

Currently, Pace allows consumers to split their purchase bills into three equal interest-free payments over 60 days, through an omnichannel experience that helps consumers spend sustainably.

Pace aims to create financial inclusion for consumers in the region, by helping them take control and shop on their terms, while helping merchants meet the increasing consumer demand and scale sales efficiencies.

About Pace

Pace is a fast-growing multi-territory fintech solutions company from Singapore with a mission to democratize financial services across Asia. It aims to build a banking engine that can operate across countries easily to help merchants create sales efficiencies and provide consumers with an option to spend sustainably. Its “Buy Now Pay Later” (BNPL) solution for offline and online merchants matches customers with appropriate spend limits and allows them to split their purchases over three equal interest-free payments. Pace currently operates in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand. For more information about Pace and how it sets out to achieve its vision to become Asia’s future digital banking engine, visit https://pacenow.co/.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

Entrepreneurs: the Highly Capable, Under-appreciated

David Wu, Associate (吳戴文 / 投資經理)

David is an Associate mainly focused on investments. He previously lived in the US, but was drawn to the Greater Southeast Asia region by the growth opportunities and the wonderful people here. He spent the first five years of his career as a consultant at IBM, where he became intimately familiar with the enterprise software and services needs of Fortune 500 companies. Later, he focused on building predictive models and solving optimization problems for large companies, and gained an appreciation for the role of data and algorithms in our lives. He joined AppWorks in 2020 after receiving his MBA from Columbia Business School, and also has a B.S. in Mathematics from the Ohio State University. In his free time, he tries to stay active and is always looking for opportunities to hike or trek, often seeking the trail less traveled.

In “The Market for Lemons,” George Akerlof described frustrated sellers of high-quality used cars not fetching a fair price because the prospective buyers were unable to distinguish between high-quality used cars and low-quality ones (known as “lemons”), that on the surface looked identical. Sellers could only find takers at a discounted price taking into account the possibility they were buying a lemon. Those who have experienced swift price depreciation upon driving a new car off the lot know this well intuitively. Eventually, sellers of high-quality used cars leave the market, as they cannot be fairly compensated due to the market’s inability to appraise their vehicles fairly.

A new study suggests that the same applies broadly to entrepreneurs. It is impossible for companies to 100% accurately appraise the capability of job applicants and current employees. Hiring managers tend to assess talent based on traditional credentials, such as educational background and work experience at prestigious schools and companies. And managers tend to assess current employees through a combination of perceived signals, personal bias, and company politics. Those who may be highly capable but lack traditional credentials or particular signals sought by senior management (akin to the frustrated sellers of high-quality used cars) withdraw from the labor market and ultimately choose entrepreneurship instead, a path to earnings not constrained by uninformed buyers of labor on the market.

Going from unhireable to startup founder may sound fanciful, but there are some high profile examples. Brian Acton’s capabilities were not accurately assessed by Facebook and Twitter, where he failed to pass the interviews in the summer of 2009. By November, he joined San Jose State University dropout Jan Koum in starting WhatsApp, which the duo later sold to Facebook for US$19 billion. 

Many immigrant entrepreneurs face the same choice when they arrive in a new country that does not recognize their foreign degrees or accomplishments. They can either work low-level jobs not requiring any credentials, or they can start small businesses and capture more of the value of their talents. 

More precisely, the study finds that entrepreneurs tend to be those whose talents are better than the credentials and abilities readily observed by outsiders. When we choose to go work for someone, the company retains our productivity minus our wage, which is based on the company’s assessment of our “market value”, or the cost of replacing us with another worker who shares similar backgrounds and experiences. Those who feel that the gap between their productivity and their market wage is too wide can take the entrepreneurial plunge and, if everything works out, capture the entire value of their productivity.

A separate but related finding was that “entrepreneurs have higher cognitive ability than employees with comparable education.” If those with comparable educations exhibit comparable signals and end up at similar jobs and companies, it suggests that many entrepreneurs decide they’re out of place, “cognitively” speaking, even when surrounded by similarly credentialed peers at their job. Their boss might see them as just another employee, but the would-be entrepreneur believes this is wrong, and that they should be several titles up, running entire departments or even the whole company. They can’t fathom how the ship is being run, and since the company can’t evaluate their true value and compensate accordingly with much higher responsibilities and pay, they decide to run their own ship.

On the flip side, those underperforming yet well-credentialed workers that exhibit positive observable signals can’t believe they’re getting paid so much to add so little value. They would thrive in a large corporation that is blind or apathetic to the fact that the worker is capturing the gap between their high wage and their scant contributions. These lucky workers would find no incentive to pursue entrepreneurship, where the market would discover their true value. 

Intuitively, I think this makes sense and matches what I have observed at AppWorks. A lot of great founders have elite degrees and prestigious work experience, but they look around at their workplace and think: “This is a great gig but I’m capable of so much more in this life.” Other great founders went to average schools or were late bloomers stuck at middling companies and didn’t have any luck applying to elite companies and jobs, perhaps due to their lack of pedigree. They couldn’t bear delaying greatness any longer and took matters into their own hands.

I asked a couple of our portfolio companies’ founders for their take, including Wayne Huang, co-founder and CEO of Taiwan-based XREX (AW#17), a neo-fintech that solves dollar shortage issues for cross-border merchants in emerging economies that recently announced a US$17 million financing.

“I can quite relate to this,” the second-time founder said. “It was just obvious to me that I wouldn’t be happy with the employment opportunities that I had when I graduated. I was just not going to be happy. That part I understood very well.” 

Indah Maryani, co-founder of InfraDigital, a company digitizing Indonesian schools’ data and billing, had frustrations as an employee at a previous startup. “You’re not an owner or an investor. You don’t own the vision; others are driving it. We said it should be done another way, but it was hard to convince the others. So my co-founder and I said, let’s create another company and build it ourselves,” she says. So they did.

Of course, this is an academic study. It would be presumptuous to suggest that an entrepreneur’s or employee’s motivations are purely financial (though the study did control for several correlates of entrepreneurial choice, such as worker wealth, risk-taking, locus of control, and other demographic features). I would also argue that the capability to add economic value is not the same as the capability to add entrepreneurial value. 

But it does shed light on some of the common thoughts and fundamental drivers of entrepreneurs. “I’m more capable than this.” “I feel out of place among my coworkers.” “Is this all the impact I’m going to make in this life?” “My work is useless or misguided, and I can’t believe my boss can’t see it.” “Why am I working so hard for these wages?” “I’m not getting the respect I deserve—let me prove that I’m way more capable than this.”

After simmering in these types of thoughts, entrepreneurs of all colors make the jump, despite how scary, lonely, and risky the journey is. They move toward the entrepreneurial abyss, despite skepticism by their peers, doubts by observers, and mockery by salaried workers, all things that exist in today’s society which values so much name brands, stability, and validation by others. Despite risking being viewed as overconfident, egotistical, or doing it because they can’t find a good job, they set out on the journey anyway. They have a special drive that enables them to do this, and perhaps part of that drive for some entrepreneurs is the information asymmetry between actual talent and perceived talent.

I suppose you could say we’re lucky that this information asymmetry exists. Without it, some founders would instead find high-level jobs, having his or her hands on the wheel while adding great value at great companies, getting richly compensated, and perhaps even being able to spin their divisions off while having significant equity ownership. Instead, they embark on the difficult road of entrepreneurship, and in the process create massive value that only a startup founder could possibly create — more value than they ever could have imagined. Making lemonade out of lemons.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

Tiki Commits Additional $258 Million Investment into Vietnam to Grow Homeland’s Digital Economy and Jobs Creation

Editor’s note: Congratulations Tiki on closing their latest round of financing, we are thrilled to back Tiki. Looking forward to collaborating with the team in the future. The press release from Tiki as below:

Tiki, the all-in-one e-commerce and supply chain has announced the completion of $258 million investment into Vietnam with its 5th funding round.

Led by AIA Company Limited, this investment also had the participation of a global, diversified set of experienced investors in e-commerce and digital economies such as Mirae Asset-Naver Asia Growth Fund, Taiwan Mobile, AppWorks, Yuanta Fund, and STIC Investments – one of the largest investment firms in South Korea, also Tiki’s current shareholder.

Despite global market uncertainties, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic in the last 2 years, Tiki has consistently achieved double-digit growth. In Q3 2021, significant sales increases were recognized within most of the marketplace’s products and services. The fresh grocery delivery service TikiNGON set a new record with an exceptional year-over-year growth of 2,000%. TikiNOW 2H, the super fast delivery subscription service, tripled its active user base. TikiPRO, the scheduled delivery, and installation service also enjoyed a 150% increase in gross merchandise volume y.o.y.

During the pandemic, users appreciate Tiki’s continuous effort to double its selection and triple its product categories, particularly in TikiNGON’s menu, a timely response to customers’ urgent need of fresh/grocery delivery. For merchants and businesses, the e-commerce platform also ramped up its TikiNOW express delivery offerings, logistics capabilities, a competitive listing fee as well as other value-added services. Tiki is also known as the pioneer in adopting innovations like automation and robotics, which helped double its fulfillment capabilities.

Tiki dedicates the $258 million investment to logistics and “Make in Vietnam” technologies – which are two cornerstones in its value propositions as a leading digital platform. The investment not only emphasizes Tiki’s vision of being an integrated infrastructure of choice for all customer and business needs but also reaffirms the commitment of Tiki to grow Vietnam’s digital economy.

On the digital services front, Tiki collaborates with AIA to develop an insurtech platform offering a wide portfolio of insurance products and financial services, aiming to help customers save significant time and effort in a 10-year comprehensive exclusive agreement. The project will be officially kicked off upon the launch of AIA’s health insurance products on Tiki, tentatively by the end of this December. With this solution in place, customers will be able to consult insurance offers as well as make insurance claims directly right on the platform.

“We always have a unfazed conviction and passion about the potential and growth of Vietnam’s e-commerce and digital economy. The $258 million investment dedicated only to Vietnam proves Tiki’s long-term commitment to building world-class infrastructure, whether they are technologies, supply chain capabilities, talents development, and jobs creation… to turn potential into reality, hence creating sustainable values for Vietnamese users and businesses. We are humbled and greatly appreciate our investors who share the same vision, and the trust they place in Tiki’s members, Vietnam market, and talents” – said Tran Ngoc Thai Son, Founder, CEO of Tiki.

“This unique and first-to-market partnership starts a new era of personal life insurance in Vietnam. Together, united by a shared vision to deliver seamless health and protection to Vietnamese families, we will focus on three distinct areas: Lifestyle benefits and innovative distribution; distinctive digital health & wellness offerings, and other financial & e-commerce propositions. We believe with Tiki’s existing assets and market leadership, we can bring an accessible and enhanced customer service proposition to make a positive difference in the lives of the people of Việt Nam. We are very excited to extend AIA’s Vietnam’s market leadership and work together with our partner, Tiki.” – said Wayne Besant, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Vietnam.

“We have a very positive outlook for Vietnam’s economy, digital transformation, and e-commerce growth. In particular, as a leading local e-commerce company in Vietnam, Tiki is providing differentiated and valuable services to Vietnamese consumers. Tiki has been improving the credibility and convenience of Vietnam’s e-commerce market through its high-quality products offering and fast and accurate delivery. Today, we are witnessing the rapid advancement of technology-led disruption of the consumer sector and we see Tiki as one of the companies that can lead this wave and growth in the area. Further to Tiki, Mirae Asset and Naver plan to more aggressively expand its investment in Vietnam’s advanced tech companies in the future.” – said Jikwang Chung, Managing Director, Mirae Asset Capital, the strategic investment arm of Mirae Asset.

“We are extremely excited to be part of Tiki’s growth journey. We look forward to the partnership between Taiwan Mobile/Momo(*) and Tiki, and aim to provide the best products and services to our customers.” – Tim Lee, Vice President, Taiwan Mobile.

“STIC Investment first invested in Tiki since Series C in 2018 and keeps supporting them by an additional investment each year. Tiki’s customer loyalty, high-quality product, and delivery, as well as proven operational performance, gave us strong confidence for this round. We are always willing to have a long-term partnership with companies in Vietnam with the strong management team, sustainable competitive advantages, and high growth potential.” – said Hongjin Kim, Managing Director, STIC Investments.

“AppWorks are proud to support Tiki on their journey going forward. Tiki has been a long-term infrastructure builder for 11 years in order to provide better service to its customers. With the rapid growth of Vietnam’s eCommerce, customer satisfaction is the foundation of competitiveness. We believe Tiki will nail it with their innovation and execution.” – said Jessica Liu, Partner at AppWorks.

Founded in 2010, with 11 years of establishment and development, Tiki has become the leading e-commerce Vietnamese platform with up to 4.000 employees and 20 million registered customers. Tiki ecosystem includes the e-commerce marketplace Tiki with up to 30 diverse categories, Tiki Trading – a retail subsidiary with millions of authentic products, and TikiNOW Smart Logistics – an integrated supply chain platform owning 20 Fulfillment Centers and Warehouses with a total area of nearly 80.000 m2.

With a strong commitment to delivering authentic products at competitive prices, together with fast delivery, Tiki has achieved remarkable milestones with numerous awards, including The most trusted e-commerce marketplace (Nielsen, 2019), Top 10 Best Brands in Vietnam (YouGov, 2020), and Top 1 E-commerce Brand with best customer experience (KPMG, 2020).

 (*) Momo mentioned is the leading e-commerce platform in Taiwan.

About Tiki:

Tiki is a leading all-in-one commerce platform in Vietnam, including the trusted e-commerce marketplace, TikiNOW Smart Logistics – an integrated supply chain platform, and Tiki Trading – a retail subsidiary.

Tiki stands for “Tim Kiem” (Searching) and “Tiet Kiem” (Saving), which is also the vision and mission for the business: becoming a destination where customers can search for anything they want, save their time and budget.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

Why We Invested: Eden Farm’s “Big Three”

Sophie Chiu, Associate (邱敬媛 / 投資經理)

Sophie is an Associate in the investment team. Before joining AppWorks in 2020, Sophie had 10 years of experience covering public equities. She was part of the portfolio management team at Neuberger Berman, focusing on emerging market opportunities. Prior to that she served as a research analyst at Credit Suisse, JPMorgan, and London-based Autonomous Research. Sophie holds a Master of Finance with distinction from Warwick Business School and BS Finance from National Taiwan University. Her passion and expertise, however, extend far beyond just researching companies and industries. She is also an author of two published poetry books and holds a keen interest in human psychology and human behavior.

Last month we at AppWorks proudly announced our investment in Jimmy’s Petreus’s iSeller, a SaaS provider in Indonesia. Coming on the heels of that deal, we closed another investment in an Indonesian AgriTech startup called Eden Farm, co-leading its $19M Series A alongside existing backer AC Ventures.

David Gunawan is the Co-Founder and CEO of Eden Farm, who joined up with Ramavito Mountaino (CFO) and Febrianto Gamal (COO) to change the way food is distributed in Indonesia. The trio had been together for several years since their previous startup, SAFE Logistics, which eventually folded but taught them numerous valuable lessons and made them better founders. In Team Eden Farm, we recognize very rare but crucial co-founder dynamics and bonding, resulting in a balanced and powerful leadership combo. On the macro side, considering Indonesia offers the most fertile land in Southeast Asia for AgriTech startups to thrive, we decided to back David, Ramavito, and Febrianto in sowing the seeds for Eden Farm’s future growth.

Tight-knit bonds forged by a bumpy founder journey

Coming from a humble background, David inherited the entrepreneurial bug from his family, instilling in him a desire to one day start his own business. He persuaded his MBA classmate Ramavito to quit an assistant portfolio manager job at Manulife to start SAFE Logistics, an on-demand logistics service. At the same time, another MBA classmate Febrianto advised on financial matters while working full-time at EY. SAFE Logistics had a rough path and eventually failed. At one point, David and Ramavito were surrounded by hundreds of angry drivers asking for payment. It was eventually resolved and this unique experience and the whole startup journey taught them hardknock lessons, helping them gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. 

While SAFE Logistics failed, the experience working with several AgriTech startups in Indonesia led David to realize the vast opportunities in this field. Although there seemed to be many incumbents along the entire value chain, David was determined to build an ultimate consolidator in the upstream segment of fresh produce. Ramavito, as a solid financial projector behind David’s ambition, also agreed on the enormous hidden (or lost) value lurking within the highly fragmented and long agricultural supply chain. In need of capital, the pair turned to their old pal Febrianto, who promptly quit his job and committed startup capital into the company. Being the most rigorous, Febrianto became the ideal person to wear a COO hat and focus strictly on operation and execution, giving birth to the “big three” for what would become Eden Farm.

Methodical go-to-market strategy with grassroots wisdom

The trio established Eden Farm in June 2017, with an ambition to become the ultimate upstream consolidator and drive their vision of “Feeding the Nation.” Consolidating Indonesia’s agriculture supply chain is not an easy task—requiring intensive operational involvement and engagement with several layers of industry stakeholders. 

To address Indonesia’s complex and fragmented agriculture landscape, Eden Farm developed a multi-layered go-to-market strategy, building up supply in phases alongside demand. Eden Farm does not remove layers of suppliers just for the sake of it. It’s a methodical approach designed to help manage capital efficiently while testing each new market. For each layer of distribution down to the production level, Eden Farm works tirelessly to communicate with stakeholders from their own perspectives and build communities, all in an effort to foster a grassroots sense of trust and collaboration. 

Eden Farm focuses on product diversification. Instead of relying on a small handful of GMV-driven items, Eden Farm’s SKU spread is much more balanced. This has created a  healthy foundation for the company, demonstrating the team’s long-term vision of sustainable growth over short-term quick gains. The company’s client portfolio is also well-diversified, including warungs, individual and chain restaurants, wholesalers, and e-grocery startups. 

As a result, Eden Farm helped increase farmers’ income by two fold and reduced food costs by at least 30%. The company now serves more than 53,000 customers by working with over 2,000 farmers across Java, equipped with five fulfillment centers. As of September 2021, Eden Farm is supported by 400 key partners to ensure reliable product supply. 

Strong founder-market fit in the AgriTech industry

Agriculture represents one of the main pillars of Indonesia’s economy, contributing 14% of the GDP while occupying 30% of the land and 12% of the workforce. The industry however suffers from fragmented distribution and operational inefficiencies, leading to  reduced margins and poor transparency. With so many challenges to address, Indonesia’s agriculture sector may be the most fertile soil for startups to experiment with innovative business models and technology. It is also so massive—with US$140 billion in production—that it can allow startups to focus solely on key segments instead of the whole value chain. However, AgriTech isn’t exactly considered a sexy business in the VC world because the operational complexity ultimately involves a high degree of integration with the physical economy.  

Having briefly worked as farmers themselves, David, Ramavito, and Febri possess immense local wisdom and diligence in working with stakeholders across the agricultural value chain, effectively bringing a new business model to an old industry. 

While consumer e-grocery models tend to receive better attention, we see the potential in Eden Farm becoming a powerful enabler behind them in the long run. We admire the three co-founders’ foresight, impressive level of strategic thinking, and relentless execution.  AppWorks is built by founders, for founders—we are all about supporting great entrepreneurs as they solve big problems and elevate the community they serve. We see great things ahead for the Eden Farm “big three” and are incredibly excited to help support them make this great impact.

【If you are a founder working on a startup in SEA, or working with AI, Blockchain, and NFT, apply to AppWorks Accelerator to join the largest founder community in Greater Southeast Asia.】

Wistron Accelerator FAQ (for Founders Applying to Wistron Accelerator #2)

Wistron has been closely working with AppWorks since 2014. Wistron is one of the major limited partners of AppWorks Fund II and Fund III. It also invested in MoBagel (AW#16), ANIWARE (AW#17) and LucidPix (AW#18), and other alumni who have graduated from AppWorks Accelerator. Wistron and AppWorks have been working closely together and have a long-term strategic partnership, and launched the Wistron Accelerator in September 2021. AppWorks, itself a leading accelerator in Greater Southeast Asia, provides core logistics and operations support.

We put together some frequently asked questions for startup teams who still had questions about the Wistron Accelerator program after reading the information on the landing page. If you have similar questions, we hope you can find the answers below.

[Wistron Accelerator #2 is taking applications now!]

1. What outcomes does Wistron expect to achieve through the Accelerator program? What kind of support can Wistron provide?

Some domain-specific perks include:

a. Access to C-level Mentors from Wistron subsidiaries / business units

The most significant value of this accelerator is that the C-levels of different business units at Wistron will serve as your Mentors. Startups in the Wistron Accelerator can directly discuss the partnership with C-level managers at Wistron, significantly increasing the chance of collaborative success.

People who have experience working with enterprises know that the CEO or C-level manager is usually responsible for the strategy, and their team is accountable for execution. Therefore, if you can directly communicate with high-level managers, you may significantly increase the chances of developing a strategic partnership, new services, and new business.

In addition, even though startups already have domain knowledge in their focus area, when facing different industries and large enterprises, there is still much to learn, including both hard and soft skills.

In the Wistron Accelerator program, C-levels of different business units take on the role to solve the aforementioned issues. During the accelerator period, startups will have in-depth collaboration and interaction with the heads of the designated business unit. Startups can further understand companies’ needs, plans, and insights, and learn how to work with large corporations effectively.

b. Exclusive PoC collaboration with Wistron

Startups running B2B businesses know that it takes a long time to successfully onboard corporate partners because of the different organization nature and the longer decision-making processes. It’s very common to take a quarter or even more than half a year to kick off a collaboration.

Wistron Accelerator has thoughtfully planned the schedule, process, and goals to speed up the collaboration process. The startups participating in the Wistron Accelerator will directly collaborate with Wistron’s business units or subsidiaries to come up with a PoC. During the program, AppWorks will facilitate the discussion and implementation of the PoC. Startups can develop the minimum viable product (MVP) within the six month timeline and further discuss more in-depth collaboration after the program.

2. What are the important factors you consider when evaluating applications?

The application review process combines AppWorks’s experience in mentoring startups and Wistron’s industry expertise. We are looking for founders who continuously work on themselves and have a clear North Star in their founder journey. We believe it helps people overcome obstacles and build up the product’s core competitive advantages. 

The following questions can help you think about whether you are suitable to join Wistron Accelerator:

  • Why did you start your business?
  • What problem do you want to solve? Why?
  • What efforts have you made in solving these problems?
  • How is your product different from existing solutions?
  • What do you expect from the collaboration with Wistron? What value can you bring to Wistron?

3. Is there a charge for the Wistron Accelerator?  If we need capital now, will we receive investment after joining?

Wistron Accelerator is an entirely free service for founders. We will not ask for rent, service fees, or any types of concessions such as stock, options, revenue, or profit-sharing. At the same time, every enrolled startup will receive a NT$200K subsidy from Wistron, which is not in exchange for any shares.

Wistron has been a bullish strategic investor, in recent years investing more than NT$10 billion with a total of 60 companies in their portfolio. In 2020, Wistron established a corporate venture capital (CVC) team and is actively looking into strategic investments. Startups selected for the Wistron Accelerator will have the opportunity to discuss further collaboration or investment with Wistron CVC, business units, or its subsidiaries during and after the program.

4. Why does Wistron recruit startups only from AI, IoT, cloud, cyber security, education, and medical technology industries?

Wistron is one of the world’s leading manufacturers in the ICT industry. In recent years, Wistron has been investing in R&D, tech innovation, and diversified product development, and has also seized on the growing trend of cloud applications. They have successfully integrated a multitude of hardware devices, software services, and cloud applications, and offer technical service platforms and solutions. During this time they have also expanded their business to new fields like education, corporate services, IoT, and medical care.

Through the Wistron Accelerator, Wistron hopes to share its industry experience and rich resources with startups, and to explore innovative opportunities by working on a PoC together. Wistron is happy to be one of the case studies for startups to test their B2B solution. Wistron Group also expects to develop growth opportunities for the next decade through this collaboration.

5. What stage of startups is suitable for the Wistron Accelerator?

We do not have a strict standard on the stage of the startup. But we do recommend startups that have experience working with enterprises or have a few proven PoCs to apply. These startups should be able to better utilize the six month timeline and can reasonably expect a certain level of results from the program.

If you are still in the MVP stage and have not yet defined your target customers, we would suggest you focus on developing your product first, try to get some initial users, collect feedback, and iterate accordingly. Once you validate the problem you want to solve and know the core advantage of your product, that will be a better time to apply for the Wistron Accelerator.

If you already have a product prototype but have not yet established a company, we recommend that you complete the company setup process first. From our experience, it can help you onboard business partners and initiate collaborations more efficiently. 

AppWorks can provide professional accounting and legal services to help founders set up a company, whether you are from Taiwan or overseas.

6. I am not a citizen of Taiwan. Can you help me get a visa?

AppWorks can assist international founders enrolled in the Wistron Accelerator to apply for the Entrepreneur Visa or the employment Gold Card based on certain conditions. Founders from overseas can concentrate on their work without worrying about visa issues.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Taiwanese government currently does not allow foreigners without a residence permit to enter Taiwan. AppWorks will closely track the government policies and provide adequate support as the policy changes.

7. While participating in the Wistron Accelerator, do we have to stay at Wistron’s office all day from Monday to Friday?  Can we participate remotely before Covid-19 restrictions are lifted?

We do not stipulate work locations, so you don’t have to stay at Wistron all day. Every startup will discuss the meeting frequency, office location, and meeting format with the designated business units or subsidiaries on a case-by-case basis. 

If you need coworking space during the accelerator program, you can reach out to AppWorks or Wistron. We can provide free coworking space based on your needs.

8. The application questions are written in English. Will writing in Chinese affect the score?

Wistron Accelerator’s application has 24 questions, covering team, product, business model, market analysis, etc. It requires a certain amount of time and effort to fill out. We hope that by this design, we can help every team clarify their current status and the assistance they are looking for.

Filling in the application is like having a health check up. Founders must think profoundly about their products, market strategies, team and the overall industry environment. Therefore, regardless of if you decide to apply or not, we still recommend you to carefully think about these questions.

We encourage you to answer in English; however, using Chinese will not affect the results. The most important thing is to express your views clearly. Furthermore, we also encourage the founder (CEO) to make a one-minute self-introduction video for us to get to know you better.

9. What is the difference between the first round and second round application?

Wistron Accelerator’s admission is on a rolling basis. Based on previous experience, teams that applied earlier had a higher chance of being selected. They could also know the results earlier, to have adequate time to plan for the PoC during the program. Therefore, we encourage founders to apply early to avoid the high competition during the final application deadline.

We hope the answers mentioned above can help you clarify any questions about the Wistron Accelerator. 

If there are further questions, please send a message to us or write to: a@appworks.tw. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

[Calling founders working on AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, EduTech, and MedTech. Deadline for the Final Round is January 4, 2022]