申請 AppWorks Accelerator 常見問題與回覆 (FAQ)

AppWorks Accelerator 在 2010 年創立,每半年招募一屆,對象是來自台灣、東南亞與世界各地的網路創業者。成立 9 年多以來,至 2019 年總共畢業 19 屆,並自 2018 年 8 月招募的第 17 屆 (AW#17) 開始,限定召募 AI / IoT 與 Blockchain 兩個領域的新創。整個 AppWorks Ecosystem 的活躍團隊有 376 個、共 1,113 位創業者,全體加總年營業額 49.7 億美元,形成一個緊密的新創網絡,是大東南亞 (東協 + 台灣) 校友規模最大的創業者社群。

每次招募團隊,AppWorks 都會收到許多申請書,過程中我們發現,新創團隊在看完網站的介紹後,對我們的加速器計畫仍有些許疑問,因此,我們整理了幾個常見問題,如果你也有類似疑惑,或許可以從中得到解答。

1. AppWorks Accelerator 可以提供創業團隊什麼幫助?

  • 大東南亞最大的創業者社群

創業是一件很孤獨的事,創業之後,大部分的朋友、家人都不知道你在經歷什麼。因為這樣,有越多厲害的創辦人和你一起同甘共苦,可以讓你遇到挫折的時候有人懂,也更有動力撐下去。除了同一屆會有約 50-60 位創辦人一起加速外,我們會頻繁地舉辦各式校友聚會,許多校友已經走過 0 到 1 的階段,透過他們的分享和交流,可以讓你少走許多冤枉路。

除此之外,由 AppWorks Accelerator 校友們建立起的生態系,或是 AppWorks 與大型企業的關係,將是新創拓展業務與尋找策略夥伴的重要管道。例如,AI 新創要建立 Data Pipeline、Blockchain 要開發落地應用,或是希望尋求大企業的資源協助,AppWorks 每位同事的重要任務之一,就是在其中穿針引線將資源與人脈引介給各新創團隊。

  • 100 位創業經驗豐富的 Mentor

AppWorks Ecosystem 有大約 100 位左右的 Mentor,透過 Mentor Day,當屆團隊可以認識不同類型的 Mentor,有的 Mentor 會是你商業上的助力,幫你推薦人脈、和你進行商業合作;有的 Mentor 會是你心靈上的支柱,在你煩惱的時候替你分擔、分享他們寶貴的人生經驗與創業建議。

  • 9 位全職、專業、最懂新創的 Master Team

早期新創團隊資源有限、人手精簡,導致新創在商業上許多重要、尚不常發生的工作,缺乏專業人才來處理。我們內建的 Master Team 共有 9 位專家,分別從中文及英文媒體公關、人才招募、財務會計、法務、設計、投資人關係、校友關係、工作空間管理等領域來協助創業者,他們在原本專業領域的平均資歷超過十年,透過我們 Master Team 的協助,讓新創在資源較少的早期階段,就能有效率地獲得專業奧援。

例如,在新創找到 Product Market Fit 之前,商業模式或業務形態尚未成熟,在人才面向上,我們會協助提供徵才建議或是每年舉辦 AppWorks 新創聯合大徵才,而不是建議新創在太早期就建立人事考評制度;或是新創的創新服務或產品,如何處理因此延伸的會計課目與認列方式,我們也能提供創業者符合公開會計原則的建議。

  • 與 AppWorks 的 Partner 安排一對一 Office Hour

除了 Master Team 之外,新創進駐 AppWorks Accelerator 期間,我們五位 Partner 每月也都會與各團隊安排一對一的 Office Hour。在建立商業模式、分析市場動態、開發新產品與服務、建立團隊、分享創業經驗等各個面向,每位 Partner 都能從本身的專業與經驗中,提供一針見血的有力建議,幫助創業者瞬間釐清問題與瓶頸。

  • 豐富多元的創業服務與資源

加入 AppWorks Accelerator 的新創,還可享受其他我們提供的服務與資源。例如,我們定期舉辦 Fundraising Bootcamp,針對有募資需求的新創團隊提供建議與諮詢;AppWorks 位於捷運台北市政府站附近,身處台北市最核心的商業區,不僅免費提供 Co-working Space 給進駐的新創使用,在步行的距離內,就有百貨公司、熱門餐廳、知名書店、電影院、高中等人潮熱點,方便創業者進行潛在用戶研究;Amazon Web Services、Microsoft Azure 與 Google Cloud Platform 也是 AppWorks Accelerator 長期贊助企業,每支進駐團隊,可獲得價值超過 10 萬美元的贊助資源,大幅降低新創團隊的實驗成本。

  • 大東南亞地區的連結

東南亞地區已成為台灣跨向國際的首要考量之一,透過自己打市場,可能要花費許多心力也不得其門而入。在 AppWorks Accelerator 每屆有超過六成的團隊來自國際,其中包含印尼、新加坡、香港、越南、泰國、馬來西亞等地的創業者,讓你能擁有第一手的市場資訊與在地人脈網絡。除此之外,AppWorks 也和當地的新創社群與投資人擁有良好的關係,讓你在當地的市場有更多可能性。

2. AppWorks Accelerator 要收費嗎?

AppWorks Accelerator 是針對創業者完全免費的服務。我們不會向新創團隊收取租金、服務費,也不會要求技術股、選擇權、營收、獲利分成,或是選擇權等任何形式的回饋。

3. 我們現在需要一筆資金,加入 AppWorks 就可以被投資嗎?

當資金可以大幅提升新創的實力與競爭優勢時,歡迎團隊隨時與 AppWorks 聯絡開啟關於募資的討論,AppWorks 管理的創投基金將隨時準備好提供協助。另一方面,AppWorks Accelerator 不會要求新創團隊在加入前,就接受我們的投資,也不會跟進駐的團隊收取股權回報。

4. 為什麼 AppWorks 現在只收 AI 和 Blockchain 的團隊?

多年來,AppWorks 很幸運獲得了新創圈的關注,因此在 2018 的時間點,我們覺得有義務透過既有的影響力去提醒大家「Mobile Internet 帶來的典範轉移已經來到尾聲」,而 AI 與 Blockchain 是下個 10 年創業者必須槓桿的新巨大板塊位移。

所以我們決定帶頭,藉由限定招募 AI、Blockchain 新創團隊,去刺激創業圈思考「為什麼 AppWorks 只收 AI 和 Blockchain?」「我是不是也該去思考 AI 和 Blockchain 是不是比較好的創業機會?」我們希望盡可能提醒創業社群,去思考如何跳往下一個成長曲線。

5. 我是學生團隊 / 我是一人團隊 / 我的團隊沒有工程師,這樣能申請嗎?

AppWorks 招收團隊時,不會因為團隊的身份或狀態而有所設限,但會特別注重創業者的幾項特質,我們稱為「3H」:

Heart:是否有創業的決心?是否願意全心全意投入?對想解決的問題有多大的熱情?

Head:能用多快的速度學會多少東西?是否具有反思與覺察能力?

Hand:是否具有執行力?

當然,對新創團隊來說,工程師是相當重要的人才資源,如果團隊組成中有優秀且經歷豐富的工程師,的確會幫團隊加分許多。但找尋合適且能為團隊加分的成員,需要花費不少心思。建議創業者在招募時,先審慎釐清團隊現階段最需要的人才項目,逐步補足,寧缺勿濫,而 AppWorks 也會針對有需要的團隊,提供人才媒合與專業人資顧問的輔導諮詢,協助創業者找到他們需要的優秀人才。

6. 我的服務 (或產品) 還沒開始賺錢,這樣能申請嗎?

當然可以。從公司創立到找到可規模化商業模式這段期間,稱為「種子期」。種子期新創公司需要的多半不是資金,而是各種與創業有關的知識、啟發,以及嘗試與犯錯的空間。AppWorks Accelerator 主要在協助種子期新創尋找可規模化商業模式,幫助他們順利邁向下一階段。此外,我們也有專業會計與法務 Master,可以為團隊提供成立公司過程中,所需要的協助。

7. 如果我已經募資過 Series A 或是我已經賺錢了,那 AppWorks 是不是不適合我?

我們並沒有限定申請團隊的成熟階段,過去也有許多較成熟的團隊加入,只要你認為在創業過程中,AppWorks 可以幫助你。以過去的例子來說,有些團隊已經在台灣做的小有成績,想往東南亞發展,那 AppWorks 可以成為走向東南亞的橋樑或踏板。像是 AW#19 的 Beseye 雲守護,已經在全球擁有超過 2000 家企業用戶,其中包含日本東急鐵道、JFE 鋼鐵,以及台灣的遠傳、中華電信,他們希望透過 AppWorks Accelerator 的創業者社群,可以跨入東南亞市場;又或是規模已不小的國際團隊,想在台灣建立技術團隊或開發市場商機,那加入 AppWorks 可以成為他們落地的第一步,像是 AW#13 的 ShopBack 透過在 AppWorks Accelerator 的時間,在台灣建立起技術團隊,並同時測試台灣市場的可能性。

8. 我是國際團隊,能否幫忙申請居留簽證?

入選 AppWorks Accelerator 的國際創業者,皆可申請「Entrepreneur Visa 創業家簽證」,讓來自海外的創業者能在台灣專心工作,不需為了簽證問題出境往返。

9. 進駐 Accelerator 後,是否每週一到五整天都要待在 AppWorks?海外團隊可以遠距參加嗎?

AppWorks 每週會安排約 4 – 6 小時的講座、Workshop、交流聚會,這些都是我們針對創業者的需求所設計,因此我們會鼓勵團隊盡量參加,認識由我們邀請而來的厲害創業者,從中得到靈感或啟發。此外,AppWorks 也提供免費的工作空間,至於團隊是否要選擇在 AppWorks 的空間工作,可以自由決定。

如果你是希望藉由 AppWorks 來測試台灣市場,又或是設立技術團隊,依照我們輔導團隊的經驗,我們建議創業者投入必要的時間與心力,親自來了解台灣的人文環境、市場狀況,拓展必要人脈。

10. 加入 AppWorks Accelerator 一定要設立公司嗎?

不一定,但我們會建議做 B2B 的海外團隊設立台灣公司。因為根據我們的經驗,這將有助於你尋找事業夥伴並洽談後續合作。AppWorks 備有專業的會計與法務 Master,能協助海外團隊處理落地台灣的手續。

11.第一階段申請和第二階段申請有何差別?

AppWorks Accelerator 的面談與入選採先收先審制度 (Rolling-basis),根據過去的經驗,先繳交申請書的團隊,有較高的入選機率,且能提早知道自己已經入選,有更充裕的時間預先規劃相關事宜。因此,我們會鼓勵創業者在第一階段就填寫申請書,以免到了最後申請截止前夕,競爭變得更加激烈。

12. 申請 Accelerator 是否需要附商業計畫書?申請書的題目都是英文,用中文寫會不會影響分數?

不需附商業計畫書。AppWorks Accelerator 的線上申請書共有約 30 個題目,包含團隊、產品、商業模式,與市場分析等眾多面向,非常詳盡,需要花一定的時間與心思填寫。我們希望可以透過這些題目協助每一個來申請的團隊,知道自己當下的發展狀態與所需協助。

填寫報名表是一種自我「健檢」,因為在填寫過程中,創業者必須深入思考自己的產品、市場策略、團隊分工,以及整體產業環境,對事業或團隊的後續發展非常有幫助。因此,不管申請與否,我們都建議創業者針對這些問題仔細思考、研究。

我們鼓勵你嘗試以英文作答,但用中文填寫並不會影響評估結果,最重要的是必須清楚表達你想傳達的訊息。另外,我們也鼓勵創業者拍攝一支約一分鐘的自我介紹影片,讓我們能夠更快且更深入的認識你。

希望以上整理能幫助你釐清對 AppWorks Accelerator 的諸多疑問。若還有其他需要進一步瞭解的地方,歡迎留言給我們,或是來信至:a@appworks.tw,我們將盡量為你解答。

【歡迎所有 AI / IoT、Blockchain 的創業者,加入專為你們服務的 AppWorks Accelerator

Why Hiring for an Early Stage Startup Is a Lot Like Dating — It’s All About the First Impression

If you want to bring quality staff onboard your startup, it helps to sell yourself in the most attractive way possible

Izza Lin, Recruiting Master

Izza is a Recruiting Master responsible for advising AppWorks Startups on all talent acquisition matters. Before joining AppWorks, she built a successful early career in headhunting firms such as Rising Management Consulting and Recruit Express, where she specialized in recruiting quality talents for internet and e-commerce companies, guiding hundreds of engineers, product managers, marketers and general managers to fulfill key positions for her clients. In between Rising and RE, she headed Southeast Asia Market for an e-commerce startup, USO HK, where she found her passion for helping small guys break the status quo. Izza received her B.A. in Economics from Washington State University and spent 5 years of her childhood in Myanmar and Cambodia. This diverse background has inextricably contributed to her love for traveling and “wine tasting”.

When founders are working hard during the early stages, most of their time is spent in building product, launching the product and raising capital.

Recruiting in today’s age is mostly an afterthought. However, in the bigger picture, when you’re building a startup that is meant to conquer a market in the long-run, finding talent is just as important as business development, product development, or acquiring customers, if not more.

Like the classic chicken-and-egg situation, savvy startup founders delay their hiring until they can afford it, yet, their business can’t afford to grow until their team has grown.

However, business growth can be extremely difficult unless you have the right team. Being stuck in this dilemma can be very frustrating.

At some point, founders need to get good at hiring for themselves. So, for beginners, I’d like to share a few pieces of advice to help conquer the recruiting hurdle easily.

It helps to use an analogy, so let’s use dating.

Just like dating, hiring is about searching for quality versus quantity and being able to convince that potential partner in the very first encounter. Whether you are looking for the ideal hire or the perfect match, this ability to attract people is key. Here is what you can do for your startup. 

Company introduction and job description = dating profile

Let’s start by comparing the creation of a job description to how you might create your own dating profile. When you first register on a dating app, you tend to put the most appealing photos on your profile, along with a personal description, interests, and what you look for in a match.

Your hiring profile should look much the same. You want to share quality information that will trigger people’s interests.

Seduce your audience

“I am Asian, 5’3, love drinking wine.” 

If this is my dating profile description, it is unlikely that anyone would swipe right. Unless I have a really hot profile photos.

The common mistake with many startups is that they use the lazy cookie-cutter three-line introductions.

For example: 

VIVACIOUS is an AI-based dating app for iOS and Android. It was founded by a group of National Taiwan University Engineering graduates in 2019.

VIVACIOUS is a top 30 dating app on Google Play and Apple App store, and now has over 30,000 downloads.

So the question is, how do you expect to stand out if your description looks like a “copy and paste”?

It needs to be unique. A good profile should take potential hires on a journey, sharing values, mission and vision (VMV), and also helping them understand who you are as a founder.

Instead of a three-line description, I may write a profile description (like the one below), showing how the company is unique: 

We are a group of National Taiwan University graduate engineers who saw a problem shared among our peers. Many people struggle to find a date due to the lack of opportunities in their busy schedules. Using AI, we have created a unique dating platform experience called VIVACIOUS to help bring people together on an intimate level and bridge that missing happiness. Just a few clicks away, you can begin an adventure to find your significant other.

As a Master of Human Resources, you will be leading our engineering and marketing team on a journey that will help many lonely hearts find the love they deserve.

For big corporations like Apple, Google, or Microsoft, their reputation needs no introduction. However, startups are much different, as most are relatively unknown. Your profile is an opportunity for you to attract potential hires, just like you would when using a dating app. 

Knowing your position, market value and how to write a job description (JD)

If Keanu Reeves is my type, my dating profile should not just say, “looking for Keanu Reeves look-alike”. This is because looks are not everything, as a matching personality is just as important.

Let’s say Keanu’s looks is equivalent to a candidate’s skill qualification, personality is the determinant if one can work well within the company culture. If the potential hire has the looks “skill” but not the personality, be aware that they may not be an ideal candidate.

Be sure to elaborate when listing out a Keanu Reeves description, by combining both looks and personality. This way candidates can better understand if they will potentially be a fit for the position on your team.

When writing the job description, I would suggest listing bullet points, from most important (must have) to least important (nice to have/ prefer). Remember to keep it short and concise, without cluttering the page. Listing out too many points can work negatively by limiting your funnel. Always be aware of who your audience is and the market value of a position.

If the description is for a senior position, but the title and salary appear as a junior position, you are unlikely to attract the candidates you are after.  

For example, the Human Resource position for “Vivacious” may appear as: 

Vivacious is looking for an experienced HR Manager to join our growing team. The HR Manager will be heavily involved in operations execution and strategic planning.

This role will be responsible for the development of compensation & benefits, performance management, employee relations, talent development program, leave processing, training, and onboarding.

Requirements:

1.Ability in executing HR tasks with extreme efficiency and limited resources

2.Have experience designing, building and leading the implementation of strategic scalable HR initiatives

3.Adapts and thrives in a demanding, start-up, fast-paced environment

Good to have:

1. Minimum 5 years’ of HR experience

2.Experience with start-up companies is a plus

3.Payroll experience 

Know where your target audience (TA) spends time

If my interest is drinking wine and I am looking for someone who would enjoy drinking wine with me, then attending a wine tasting event to look for a potential match would probably be an ideal place to start. 

This is the same in hiring. When you are finding talent, you have to think about where your talent would spend their time.

Do they show up at certain events, work for certain companies, or have their own Facebook group… etc?

Start by looking in the right direction, and focus on those online and offline locations.  

Know the competitor

Know your competition. Gather as much information about your competitors, such as their job posting content, company performance, company culture, strengths and weaknesses.

This information will be helpful when determining the strategic positioning of your startup to potential hires.  

Have your pitch ready 

Hiring moments can sometimes appear at the most unexpected times. You should always be ready to pitch your startup, otherwise, an opportunity with a talented candidate could be missed.

Be confident when giving your pitch, keep it short, concise, and most importantly, be persuasive.

Referrals are key

We focused on the points above first because they need to be fully understood prior to the most important step of them all — asking for referrals. Referrals are critical relationship keys that unlock doors and allow you access to more potential new hires. 

Searching your existing circle of resources for suitable candidates should always be your first step. You can usually find what you are looking for when working through people you trust.

Often times, it is usually a faster and more cost-effective way to hire. Instead of relying only on job postings, career sites or recruiting services, focus on building a stronger network.

Conclusion

The hiring chicken-and-egg problem is frustrating but not impossible. It can take months to find the right candidate. So it is crucial that you have a plan and a strategy ready.

Start crafting your startup profile today, practice your pitch, and when the opportunity presents itself, you will be prepared to win the perfect candidates that will change the game for you.

【If you’re a startup currently or prospectively employing AI / IoT or Blockchain / Crypto, be sure to apply AppWorks Accelerator’s AI & Blockchain only batch.】

Photo by Tumisu courtesy of Pixabay

Deferred Revenue (遞延收入),SaaS 創業者應該了解的關鍵指標

Norman Chi, Analyst (紀泳瑜 / 分析師)

負責投資與基金管理。在加入 AppWorks 之前,曾於勤業眾信審計部門服務近兩年,參與過的財務報表查核案件橫跨多個產業。畢業於台大會計系,學生時期曾擔任台大學生會活動部部長與會計系系學會公關長。喜愛品嚐美食、棒球與推理懸疑類影集。期許自己成為理性,但不失熱血與溫度的創投分析師。

隨著各式雲端應用及基礎建設普及,近年來,SaaS (Software as a Service) 已成為 Internet 服務中,最受創業者們重視的商業模式之一。在大東南亞 (東協 + 台灣) 最大創業加速器 AppWorks Accelerator 共 376 支活躍新創、1,113 位創業者的創業者社群中,有約 30 家 SaaS 新創,其中的代表案例,包括台灣最大餐飲雲端 POS 系統 iChef、台灣最大 OMO 虛實融合新零售平台 91APP,或是電子報發送平台的 Newsleopard 電子豹 (AW#4)、專攻 AI 監控的 Umbo CV (AW#9)、提供法律專業人士搜尋的資料庫 Lawsnote (AW#13)、打造聊天機器人系統的 High5 (AW#14) 與 Easychat (AW#16)、能自動生成符合各社群媒體平台規格靜態廣告的 MarTech 新創 Dipp (AW#16)。

2018 年,同時也是 SaaS 新創集體在美國 IPO 的重要年度。包括 Dropbox、DocuSign、Zuora 等知名獨角獸紛紛掛牌上市。但細看這些新創企業公布的年度財務報表,會發現幾乎都虧損連連;就連 SaaS 新創 IPO 的鼻祖、CRM 軟體龍頭 Salesforce,也是到 2017 年會計年度才轉虧為盈,距離其 IPO 時間已 13 年。但在資本市場中,來自 SaaS 領域的新創,仍獲得投資人高度重視,究竟在虧損的財報背後,投資人看見了什麼?

當傳統損益表遇上 SaaS:收入認列的限制

採 SaaS 模式的新創,大多以訂閱制取代傳統一次性買斷的套裝軟體。 然而,以較為低廉的每期訂閱價格,來吸引用戶使用,進而換取 SaaS 新創長期且穩定收入的做法,容易受限於傳統的會計準則,造成新創的價值無法如實反映。原因很簡單,傳統會計收入的認列方式,用戶採用後,不見得能正確反應 SaaS 新創真實的成長力道與預期。

在傳統會計上,企業於財務報表中得以認列收入主要需滿足下列所有條件 (此處以 IFRS 15 為準):

(1) 辨認客戶合約

(2) 辨認合約中之履約義務

(3) 決定交易價格

(4) 將交易價格分攤至合約中之履約義務

(5) 於滿足履約義務時認列收入

在 SaaS 商業模式下,這五點可以理解為:當用戶按下同意使用條款按鈕,並確認付費金額與條件後,就有完整權限享受 SaaS 新創提供的服務;而 SaaS 新創確認訂單並開立發票收款後,即有充足證據顯示,此筆交易的金額能夠可靠衡量,並很有可能流入 SaaS 新創。

但這時通常會出現一個潛在的問題:不少 SaaS 新創雖將服務定價以月來計算,但收費卻是每季或每年結算一次。這時以會計角度來看,就會產生一個疑問:SaaS 新創是否已完成「交貨」義務?畢竟 SaaS 新創有義務提供一年的服務,來換取用戶支付的金錢,若是在開票收現的當下,即全部認列為本季或本年的收入,難免有失公允。故在傳統會計原則中,SaaS 新創不得一次性認列此類型的訂閱收入,而是要在履約期間內分期認列,未實現的必需遞延。

成功的 SaaS 模式還有一個特性:為求快速擴張獲得更多的用戶,所認列的費用,有極高比例會用於行銷與業務拓展。即便成功如 Salesforce,行銷與業務推廣費用,仍占營收超過 45%;更極端者如 Slack,2019 年 Q2 的財報上,顯示行銷與業務推廣費用佔營收高達 94%,為的就是求先獲取 (Acquire) 更多用戶,進而推升每月持續流入的訂閱服務收入。

綜上所述,SaaS 新創的金流收入,在結帳當期不得完全認列;但一次性行銷費用,卻又居高不下,導致無法在財務報表上繳出漂亮的獲利數字。這就是 SaaS 新創在傳統損益表上面臨的限制:損益表上無法具體顯示出,這些透過一次性高行銷費用而創造出來的經常性收入效益,只會顯示年復一年的財務虧損,而這不能看出 SaaS 新創真正的價值。

在實務上,SaaS 新創在營業報告中,最常呈現的幾個指標數字,例如 ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue,每年經常性收入)、LTV (Customer Life Time Value,顧客終身價值)、Customer Churn Rate (客戶流失率) 等,已有不少文章評析過這些重要指標。儘管 SaaS 創業者得以給出漂亮的指標數字,但是外部投資人並無權限去驗證這些指標數字的合理性與可靠性,因為不像財報上數字的揭露,是會計師依照會計準則查核出具報告。

對 SaaS 創業者來說,不論是對外溝通、募資,或是對內管理,甚至是評估或規劃長期策略時,是否能用一個關鍵數字,就足以解釋新創的價值與成長潛力?

SaaS 創業者都該懂的財務指標:Deferred Revenue (遞延收入)

這個對創業者十分重要的關鍵數字,就是 Deferred Revenue (遞延收入,或稱 Unearned Revenue 預收收入);在台灣財報上顯示的科目名稱,通常為「預收收入」或是「合約收入」(採 IFRS 15 後)。

什麼是 Deferred Revenue 呢 ? 簡單說,Deferred Revenue 代表企業在未來很有可能認列的收入總額。

SaaS 新創的收入,需在服務履約期間內分期認列,未實現的需遞延認列。簡單舉例,若一間提供雲端服務的企業,每月的訂閱服務費為新台幣 1,500 元,半年支付一次且不可取消退費。當一位用戶於 12/1 開始訂閱半年,共支付 9,000 元 (1,500 x 6),在 12/31 的財報裡,我們可找到兩個數字:損益表上,顯示 Subscription Revenue 為 1,500 元,以及資產負債表上的負債科目,會出現 Deferred revenue 7,500 元 (9,000 – 1,500)。或許在此,創業者會感到疑惑:為什麼在資產負債表上,呈現的是負債呢?簡單來說,就是想像成因為還欠用戶五個月的服務即可。故在 12/31 當下,Deferred Revenue 代表著 7,500 元是還沒完成履約義務的收入,預期會在將來逐月實現認列。

為什麼 Deferred Revenue 對評估 SaaS 商業模式這麼重要?一言以敝之,Deferred Revenue 代表未來可認列的收入價值,與 ARR (每年經常性收入) 的精神不謀而合,同時又是經各國會計準則委員會認定的財報科目,較有參考意義。

對創業者來說,Deferred Revenue 除了代表未來潛在可實現的收入,以及方便更進一步評估管理報表中 ARR 與 MRR (每月經常性收入) 等指標的合理性外,更能使創業者系統化地預測未來的成長。同時,創業者在與每月或每季與投資人的會議報告中,使用 Deferred Revenue 這個財務指標,對外部投資人來說,Deferred Revenue 的表達方式,因為符合會計準則規範,相對較有公信力,既可與競爭對手相比,又不至於讓企業任意操縱。而 Deferred Revenue 數字穩定提升,也代表對未來成長的樂觀,對 SaaS  新創日後可認列的收入提供一定的保證,而非憑空捏造的幻想;同時,高行銷費用帶來的付費用戶成長,也可反映在 Deferred Revenue 的提升上,這為新創高速擴張造成的高行銷費用,提供了另一種正面角度的說明。

是否有潛在的風險或盲點?

Salesforce 的年報是非常值得 SaaS 創業者探討的案例。Salesforce 是近 20 年最成功的 SaaS 企業。這家成立於 1999 年的企業,以 19 年的時間,將營收從不到 600 萬美元放大到超過 100 億美元,5 年來股價翻了一倍。SaaS 創業者心中肯定都有成為下一個 Salesforce 的夢想,因此,我們就來簡單說明 Salesforce 如何向外部投資人報告。

在 Salesforce 公布 2019 會計年度的年報中,第一個 Highlight 是年營收達 133 億美元,年成長達 26%;第二個 Highlight 則非常特別,叫做 Remaining Obligation Performance (保留義務履行)。按照年報上的附註解釋,代表 Salesforce 已與用戶簽約並可創造的未來收入,只是現在還沒有認列的部分,金額高達 257 億美元,年成長為 25%,將近年度營收的兩倍,非常令人驚豔。

只是,Remaining Obligation Performance 與 Deferred Revenue 是一樣的嗎?若細看過整份年報,會有另一個發現,那就是在資產負債表上,與 Deferred Revenue  同樣意義的 Unearned Revenue,金額為 85.64 億美元。當然這與 2018 年的 69.95 億美元相比,也是有不俗的成長,但與 257 億美元相比,就顯得不足為奇了。

事實上,Remaining Obligation Performance 包含了 Deferred Revenue 與 Unbilled Deferred Revenue (未開發票的遞延收入)。

但若 SaaS 創業者使用 Remaining Obligation Performance 作為給投資人報告的指標數字,將有兩個潛藏的風險。第一,Unbilled Deferred Revenue 並不是一個正式的資產負債表科目,我們不會在任何一份正式的財務報表中發現其蹤跡,充其量只能算是個參考數字,並不具公信力。更具體來說,Unbilled Deferred Revenue 就是在不可知的未來,很有可能被認列成 Deferred Revenue 的數字,待完成履約義務後才會轉為收入,但這是沒有任何保證的。多數人非常容易將 Unbilled Deferred Revenue 與 Deferred Revenue 混為一談,誤以為兩者意義相同。

第二,則是 Remaining Obligation Performance 究竟會花多久時間轉換成真正的收入?在 Salesforce 的案例中,企業並未公布 Remaining Obligation Performance 的組成:257 億扣除 85.64 億後的 171.36 億美元,有多少比例是一到兩年內可以認列?多少是三年以上? 畢竟這 171.36 億美元,還需要多久能真正進到財報裡,沒有人清楚,而時間拖得越長,潛在的風險也就越大。而在遙遠的未來,是否會發生金融海嘯,或是企業客戶發生資金危機而無法如期付款,在這數字中,都屬於不能預測,這數字只能說明潛在的合約總價值,不代表未來會全部兌現。

除了 Salesforce 之外,像是 Workday 等已經 IPO 的 SaaS 新創,也有採用相似的方式手法,在年報中表達企業未來可創造的價值。另外,亦有不少 SaaS 新創,在在提供給股東的報告裡採用相同方式,試圖解釋公司營運狀況良好。當創業者使用相同指標對外部投資人報告時,需特別注意,千萬不要把 Deferred Revenue 和 Remaining Obligation Performance 這兩個指標混淆了,在實務上,Deferred Revenue 的客觀性、可被接受程度更高。

結論

回歸財報的管理與解讀,對創業者來說,除了持續關注 Deferred Revenue 是否健康成長外,還是需同時輔助搭配其他財務數字。例如,營運淨現金流是否持續成長、收入增加是否來自於一次性業外收入等其他因素,並搭配其他管理報表中的指標如 ARR、Churn Rate 等一併分析其合理性,才能評估出 SaaS 新創真正的價值與潛力,進而提升決策品質;相對地,創業者不該用看似美好、卻似是而非的數字讓外界產生誤解,這將直接傷害創業者的信用以及努力打拼的成果。

身為 SaaS 模式的創業者,你搞懂 Deferred Revenue 這個數字了嗎?

【歡迎所有 AI / IoT、Blockchain 的創業者,加入專為你們服務的 AppWorks Accelerator

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4 Factors Turning Vietnam into Southeast Asia’s Next Growth Story

Vietnam is increasingly a thriving tech ecosystem connected with SEA

Jun Wakabayashi, Analyst (若林純 / 分析師)

Jun is an Analyst covering both AppWorks Accelerator and Greater Southeast Asia. Born and bred in America, Jun brings a wealth of international experience to AppWorks. He spent the last several years before joining AppWorks working for Focus Reports, where he conducted sector-based market research and interviewed high-level government leaders and industry executives across the globe. He’s now lived in 7 countries outside US and Taiwan, while traveling to upwards of 50 for leisure, collectively highlighting his unique propensity for cross-cultural immersion and international business. Jun received his Bachelors in Finance from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Several batches ago, we started to see a steady influx of Vietnamese founders applying to our AppWorks Accelerator. It was a rather curious phenomenon because at the time, we had only begun expanding our scope outside of Taiwan to include Southeast Asia and had really only seen inward interest coming from developed markets like Singapore and Hong Kong.

AppWorks Analysts Natalie Lin and Jun Wakabayashi (from left to right) join several Vietnam founders at an AppWorks Founders Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam November 2019

Indonesia had long been earmarked for obvious reasons, but Vietnam was nowhere on our radar. And yet, we ended up having founders of startups such as Innaway (AW#17), Triip.me (AW#18), KardiaChain (AW#18), and Abivin (AW#19) join our program. Granted, each of them had different motivations for coming to Taiwan, but it was enough to pique my interest in understanding the Vietnamese market, specifically the context and mentality in which these founders were coming from.

A handful of trips and dozens of meetings later, I’ve grown to become quite fond of the ecosystem in Vietnam. There’s an almost festive-like energy reverberating throughout the local startup scene. The country is experiencing a level of economic prosperity it has never seen before, and as a result, a generation of eager entrepreneurs laser-focused on tapping into the limitless possibilities at hand. Based on my observations, there are several key factors currently driving this growth.

The macros

Vietnam’s ascension to the regional, if not global, spotlight has been nothing short of an economic miracle. Just three decades ago, the country was one of the poorest in the world, with gross domestic product per capita treading around US$100 and over 70% of its population living in poverty.

Thanks to the Doi Moi reforms introduced in 1986 that gradually saw the liberalization, privatization, and diversification of its economy, Vietnam today is a comfortably middle-income country, with an accelerating market driven by a large, increasingly wealthy, and digitally connected middle class. From 2000 to 2015, Vietnam exhibited an average GDP growth rate of 6.9%, most recently clocking in at 7.08% in 2018, placing it among the fastest-growing economies in the world.

With 95.5 million people, Vietnam boasts not only the third-largest population in Southeast Asia, but also a young one, with over half under the age of 35. Levels of disposable income have also never been higher, and internet and mobile adoption are becoming more ubiquitous among its consumer base.

These are the fundamentals that should whet the appetite of any early-stage investor worth their salt, and many seem to agree. In the 2019 eConomy SEA report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, Vietnam was designated as the third-most funded country in Southeast Asia after Singapore and Indonesia, having attracted over US$1 billion in funds over the last few years. The country’s internet economy has expanded by 38% on an annualized basis since 2015 – growing far more quickly than its regional peers with the exception of Indonesia – and is now set to reach US$12 billion or 5% of its GDP in 2019, according to the report.

It was only a few years ago when Vietnam lagged behind the majority of its peers in terms of capital allocation, deals done, and overall interest. But now, the conversations are evidently shifting from “Why Vietnam?” to “How do I get a piece of Vietnam?”

The tech talent

A classic characterization of the ideal Southeast Asian startup is one that is headquartered in Singapore, targeting Indonesia, with designers in Thailand, customer service in the Philippines, and engineers in Vietnam. It’s a gross oversimplification of each country’s strengths, but it’s nonetheless rooted in some degree of truth.

Vietnam’s heavy investment in science, technology, engineering, and math education over the last 15 years, combined with improved internet connectivity and a young, low-cost workforce, has spawned a thriving IT outsourcing industry. Vietnam is now home to roughly 30,000 IT companies, while churning out 80,000 IT graduates a year from its universities, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology. The country has also usurped China as Japan’s second-largest software outsourcing partner, right behind India, and houses substantial research and devvelopment bases from the likes of IBM, Intel, Oracle, Samsung, and Grab.

What does this mean for startups? This country is producing a legion of skilled developers ready to join a startup or bootstrap one of their own.

Many of the local founders I met previously worked for an outsourcing company (or in many cases simultaneously), but turned to entrepreneurship and startups in search of greater opportunities for growth and impact.

Of course, the talent pool is not without its challenges. The talent is certainly there, but it’s raw, and it’s young. As the ecosystem is still relatively nascent, there are very few people who have experience managing teams and solving problems at scale.

Moreover, while Vietnam’s education curricula in technical subjects like math and science have evolved tremendously in the last two decades, outsourcing is still an inherently low-level, low-value process, leaving a void of product-focused engineers that understand the holistic impact of their efforts on end users.

Nevertheless, the foundation is there. Vietnamese students regularly outperform the majority of their regional peers, while notably surpassing student performance in several Western countries, such as the UK and the US. Especially now, as we embrace the onset of deep technologies like AI and blockchain, Vietnam’s massive talent pool – if properly refined and nurtured – gives the country a unique comparative advantage over other Southeast Asian countries when it comes to producing prospective tech startups.

The sea turtles

In Taiwan, they’re called “hai gui;” in the Philippines, “balikbayan;” and in Vietnam, “Viet Kieu.” Collectively, they’re commonly referred to as “sea turtles”: locals who lived overseas, typically in Western countries, and eventually returned home to work or start their own businesses.

These returnees are often a primary driver of value creation for developing markets. That’s largely due to the experience gained, best practices learned, and network accumulated from some of the world’s leading universities and companies, which they’re able to integrate into their own ventures. Among Southeast Asia’s current crop of unicorns, the majority of their founders received some form of education abroad. For example, Grab’s Anthony Tan, Gojek’s Nadiem Makarim, and Traveloka’s Ferry Unardi all studied at Harvard Business School.

Looking at Vietnam’s current startup hall of fame, the majority of founders studied abroad at some point or another:

  • Son Tran, founder of Tiki.vn, University of New South Wales
  • Hai Linh Tran, co-founder and CEO of Sendo, Nanyang Technological University
  • Ba Diep Nguyen, founder of Momo, Curtin University
  • Tuan Pham, founder and CEO of Topica Edtech Group, New York University

And the list just goes on from there. In fact, even Minh Le, chairman and CEO of VNG – the country’s one and only unicorn – received a part of his higher education abroad at Monash University.

But this is just the beginning. There’s an estimated 4 million Vietnamese currently living overseas, with more than 130,000 of them studying abroad every year. Ho Chi Minh itself receives approximately 30,000 young Vietnamese returning from overseas annually to seek business and startup opportunities. The government has also doubled down on its efforts to attract overseas talent by creating relaxed visa programs for Viet Kieu and exempting them from certain investment requirements.

The homegrown ecosystem

Although Vietnam has yet to produce a regional success story the likes of a Grab or Shopee, the country does have its fair share of rising stars and homegrown champions that are effectively holding their own against foreign entrants. There’s Tiki.vn for ecommerce (reportedly raising over US$100 million in its latest round), Momo for e-wallet (recently raised US$100 million in series C funding), Zalo for messaging (owned by VNG), and also a handful of local ride-hailing contenders including Be (started by VNG’s co-founder) and FastGo (recently expanded in Singapore).

The fact that consumption hasn’t been completely dominated by international companies is indicative of a robust, end-to-end, and local ecosystem, underpinned by key pillars of support including angels, institutional investors, accelerators/incubators, media, and co-working spaces collectively split across major tech hubs in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, and Da Nang.

The tone at the top has also played a pivotal role in the proliferation of the startup scene in Vietnam. Techfest, for example, is an annual event organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology that draws out over 5,500 attendees, 250 investors, and 600 startups. Earlier this year, the ministry also hosted the first iteration of the Vietnam Venture Summit, which brought out over 100 domestic and international funds to “unfreeze capital flows” and jumpstart innovation.

The time is now

Vietnam has come a long way since its agrarian roots. The country’s transition into the digital era is full steam ahead, with the transformation of its major cities into sprawling metropolises and key economic centers already well under way.

And the ones at the heart of this metamorphosis are the Vietnamese people, defined by a growing population of students, coders, engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

For locals, there’s never been a better time to start a business. The country’s overall development and rapid urbanization over the past 20 years, sprinkled in with a formidable sense of national pride and ethnic belonging have collectively opened up a waterfall of opportunities that are now ripe for the taking.

For international stakeholders, especially those from developed markets where several generations of serial entrepreneurs and investor know-how have already run their course, there still exists a level of experience arbitrage in Vietnam. It’s a unique window of opportunity to diffuse tactics, playbooks, and best practices into an emerging market just now coming to terms with increasing affluence, consumer sophistication, and digital transformation.

【If you’re a startup currently or prospectively employing AI / IoT or Blockchain / Crypto, be sure to apply AppWorks Accelerator’s AI & Blockchain only batch.】

Photo by InstagramFOTOGRAFIN courtesy of Pixabay

探索台灣 AI 生態系地圖 (2019H2 更新)

Sandi Wu, Analyst (吳岱蓉 / 分析師)

負責 Accelerator 與投資。加入 AppWorks 前,任職於富邦產險電子商務部,負責線上投保平台的專案管理及 Email 行銷,喜愛探究數字背後的意義。曾前往芬蘭交換學生半年,期間走遍半個歐洲,喜歡寂靜的自然風景勝過繁華的現代都市。畢業於台大財金系,擔任系女排隊長,熱愛美食、排球、旅遊及挑戰新事物。

在 AI 的發展上,台灣一直是大東南亞地區 (東協 + 台灣) 領先的人才重鎮。我們也可以看到,過去兩年來,Google、Microsoft、IBM 等科技巨頭陸續在台灣成立 AI 研發中心,主要原因除了台灣有好的人才以外,在地理位置上,台灣也位居連接東南亞與東北亞地區的樞紐位置。

除了世界巨頭外,越來越多東南亞地區的新創企業也相繼來台徵才。例如,同樣來自新加坡的 Carousell,以及 AppWorks Accelerator 第 13 屆 (AW#13) 校友 ShopBack。台灣的吸引力,在於相較整個大東南亞地區,台灣的電商發展十分蓬勃,2019 全年營收預估突破新台幣 2,000 億大關,因此擁有大量的電商數據,成為了發展 AI 模型最佳的基礎。 在 AppWorks Accelerator 每半年更新一次「2019 H2 台灣 AI 生態系地圖」(The Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem Map 19H2) 的過程中,我們發現,在過去半年中,以下的垂直在 AI 發展上有更為顯著的成果:

(原始檔案下載:Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem 19H2)

大平台廣告紅利結束,企業專注於影片行銷、熟客經營及再行銷

隨著 Facebook 演算法改變、資訊爆炸,運用有限的預算、透過數位廣告來吸引消費者越來越困難。企業開始注重經營自媒體,以及經營熟客與再行銷,專注於忠誠度最高、貢獻度也最高的客群,並提供給他們最適合的商品,這樣的趨勢,為提供行銷解決方案的 AI 新創開創了更多的商業機會。

創立於 2011 年的 iKala,從一開始的線上卡拉 OK、直播平台,歷經 8 年的轉型成為人本 AI ( Human-Centered AI) 行銷科技公司,是 Google Cloud 亞太區最大的合作夥伴及 Facebook 全球行銷解決方案夥伴,目前市場遍佈台灣、香港、新加坡、泰國、越南及日本,並於去年初宣布完成 A 輪融資 500 萬美元。從 iKala 提供的服務來看,可以見到隨著影音行銷崛起,也創造了更多的商機,除了吸引眼球外,透過 AI 技術,可以更有效率地找到適合的網紅,並透過成效導向的廣告解決方案打中消費者。

其他像是同為 AW#16 的 Easychat 以及 Rosetta.ai,都專注於提供品牌再行銷服務,不再是透過群發訊息,協助企業客戶利用 AI 模型精準的打中消費者,因為企業客戶擁有大量的數據,而新創擁有良好的技術,創造雙贏的局面。

結合硬體實力,專注在安全監控和居家應用場景

台灣擁有世界一流的硬體實力與完整的產業供應鏈,再加上公眾攝影機基礎建設的完善,我們可以看見,在 AI 應用中,安全監控與居家應用分別出現了幾家小有成績的新創。

安全監控一直以來都是企業重視的議題之一,透過結合 AI 技術,可以大幅減少浪費人力以及避免人為疏失,進而提升監控品質和安全性。以安全監控產業來看,除了 AW#9 的 UmboCV 成功進入歐美市場,並在超過 30 個國家擁有長期付費用戶,還有於 2014 年創立、AW#19 的 Beseye,其為日本東急鐵道導入人體骨幹分析,透過 AI 擷取人體骨骼特徵,當攝影機偵測到有人進入禁行的軌道時,系統便會自動通知中控中心或站務人員即時處理,降低鐵路平交道事故,目前已有超過 2,000 家企業客戶,其中也包含遠傳及中華電信等大型企業。其他新創像是 ioNetworksCyCarrier 也都專注於提供安全監控相關的服務。

在居家應用層面,隨著現代人生活忙碌,逐漸出現了許多針對不同族群的照護攝影機,也讓用戶在工作時,可以更方便關心家中的長輩、幼兒與寵物。像是 AW#10 的 NUWA Robotics 於 2018 年推出第一代陪伴型機器人「凱比同學」售出超過 5,000 台後,近日推出第二代陪伴型機器人「Kebbi Air」,在群眾募資平台嘖嘖上線不到半小時便募資突破新台幣百萬元。NUWA 主打 STEAM 程式教育、劇場式英文學習和體感互動教育,著眼於教育陪伴機器人市場,也是居家智能小幫手。另有 Aeolus 專注於長輩居家照護服務、AW#16 的 Cubo 智慧寶寶攝影機以及 Furbo 專注於「毛小孩」寵物照顧服務。

透過金融沙盒,金融業逐漸擁抱創新

因為受到高度監管,金融業的 AI 運用算是腳步稍微慢一些,但有鑒於擁有大量數據及客戶完整資料的優勢,箇中的潛力商機一直不容可小覷。金管會在 2018 年開放外界申請監理沙盒實驗以來,2019 年申請案已經受理超過 10 件,超出金管會當初設定的目標。2017 年成立的 HowInvest,透過機器學習提供客製化的智慧決策及即時監控服務,來降低民眾理財門檻,今年和遠東銀行旗下的數位銀行 Bankee,申請通過進入沙盒,進行「即時基金互換」實驗,投資人可以將持有的基金,以基金淨值與其他會員做等價即時交換,好處是不必贖回就能換到喜歡的基金,還能省下交易費用,能更彈性的調整投資目標。

許多金融新創也開始和大型金融業合作,不再從取代現有金融業體系的角度出發,除了可以降低金融業者的憂心,還可以創造雙贏的局面。像是 hiHedge 和富邦期貨共同推出「富邦 hiHedge 籌碼 AI 趨勢策略」,使用 AI 技術每日計算台灣上市股票的籌碼流向,提供消費者更完整的資訊。其他新創像是 Adenovo 則是專注於為金融機構與企業,提供即時的智慧金融解決方案,已獲得阿里巴巴創業者基金、兆豐創投的投資

隨著越來越多 AI 新創冒出頭,台灣在創業加速器、教育、研究等面向,也呈現蓬勃發展。在創業加速器部分,2010 年成立、自 2018 年 8 月 (AW#17) 起限定招募 AI / Blockchain 新創的 AppWorks Accelerator,目前為止已經招收三期 AI / Blockchain 共 89 個新創,其中有  44 組 AI、11 組 IoT 新創,持續為台灣 AI 生態系挹注新能量。

AppWorks 之外,包括微軟新創加速器 (Microsoft for Startups)、Taiwan AI x Robotics Accelerator 等,皆是以 AI 新創團隊為主要招募對象的創業加速器。台灣人工智慧學校、台灣人工智慧實驗室,則分別是台灣在 AI 教育與研究領域的代表性機構,也期望越來越多的資源會注入 AI 領域的發展。

The Taiwan’s AI Ecosystem Map 19H2 由 AppWorks 製作,每半年更新一次,有任何指教與建議,請 email 至 a@appworks.tw

【歡迎所有 AI / IoT、Blockchain 的創業者,加入專為你們服務的 AppWorks Accelerator

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