Since applications opened for the first year of the Eastern Pacific Accelerator powered by Techstars, Gary Ong, our entrepreneur-in-residence, and I have been fortunate to meet a slew of founders across the maritime, logistics, and supply chain verticals. We’ve connected with startups from around the world—North America, Europe, India, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. We’ve engaged with companies at various stages of growth in their entrepreneurial journeys, from early-stage startups to ones that have raised several millions of dollars. We are humbled by the enthusiastic reception this program has received so far, and we can’t wait to meet even more founders and learn about their companies.
We’re looking to talk to companies focused on the following themes as they relate to the maritime industry:
Evolving logistics business models
Over the last few years, we’ve seen hundreds of millions of dollars invested in logistics companies. For decades, the logistics industry has been characterized by low margins and long working capital cycles, hindering companies’ ability to grow and scale. We are excited to see the growing trend of logistics companies presenting new business models, improving upon historical approaches that have previously stifled industry advancement.
Maritime technology comes ashore
As active investors in the maritime space and logistics/supply chain, Gary and I have had front-row seats to how the industry has altered and advanced over the years. One recent trend that we find especially exciting is that maritime founders are coming “ashore.” Historically, maritime technology has concentrated on vessels, but recently we’ve started to witness startups divert their attention to onshore technologies and solutions. Whether they’re building an interface to manage a shipping company’s complex global agency networks or developing a technology to improve their relationship with a charterer, tech startups addressing the maritime space have a great opportunity for creating new solutions that make a big difference, especially as they relate to automation and software.
We’re also seeing founders apply innovations and solutions from adjacent sectors—such as energy, IoT, and financial services—to the maritime sector. Entrepreneurs are waking up to the sheer size of the maritime sector, a hundred-billion-dollar industry, and its readiness for disruption.
Emergence of ‘supply chain middleware’
For too long, location visibility has been a main focus for startups in the maritime space. We’re excited to see entrepreneurs expand from focusing on solutions specific to cargo visibility to other opportunities, such as predictive models, exception management support, financing solutions, and more. Some of the best 3PL players in the world are experimenting with solutions in these spaces, and there is ample opportunity for startups to capitalize on this momentum—and these enterprise customers’ needs.
At Eastern Pacific Accelerator powered by Techstars, we know that finding out exactly what an enterprise customer needs is an art. We understand that the information pertinent to the growth of your business doesn’t often lie in just one place; it is often distributed across key individuals, different departments, and even a variety of organizations. We appreciate that piecing together this information while being on the outside of an enterprise is an exercise that can take years, and still remain incomplete and ineffective.
This is precisely why we find the prospect of collaborating with maritime-focused tech founders so interesting. We’re excited to connect founders with key contacts across various departments from large enterprises, to provide feedback and mentorship to our founders and help them accelerate their businesses by packing years of innovation and learning into a 13-week program.
It’s exciting to think we are just at the beginning of our journey for the Eastern Pacific Accelerator powered by Techstars. We can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store, and what we can build, hand-in-hand with the founders, we will be investing in come September this year.
On the heels of a tremendously successful first ever Techstars Demo Day in Asia, the Rakuten Accelerator, Powered by Techstars is searching for its next class of founders to join the 2019 program, hosted in Singapore. Applications are open January 7–April 7, 2019, and the program starts in July, with Demo Day in October.
Rakuten was founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace that now offers services to more than 1.2 billion customers around the world. It has formidable presence in its home market in Japan, offices in South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and businesses in the U.S. and Europe. Rakuten is also the main global partner of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most legendary football teams (soccer to you Americans), and official partner of reigning NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors.
In addition to its geographical span, the variety of businesses and industries that Rakuten operates in makes it a highly interesting partner for founders to work with. Rakuten Group’s broad range of more than 70 online and off-line businesses span e-commerce, travel, FinTech, digital contents and communications, as well as credit cards, banking, securities, insurance, electronic money and professional sports. Founders who go through the accelerator will gain access to all of these business units during the course of the three-month program.
Beyond the opportunity to work with Rakuten, the program’s location in Singapore is ideal for founders wanting to explore Asian business opportunities. Approximately three billion people across the Far East (Hong Kong, China, Japan), South East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent can be accessed via a short one to five hour flight from the island city-state. As a result, Singapore is the Asia headquarters for numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Unilever, BMW, Microsoft, Apple, Google, GE, Procter & Gamble, CISCO, Levi’s, UPS, Walt Disney, Pfizer, Novartis, Twitter, Sony, Philips, DHL, and more. Founders will have the opportunity to meet key decision-makers from all of these companies during their stay in Singapore for the program.
The Rakuten Accelerator, Powered by Techstars focuses on the Future of Communication, Data Marketing and Digital Commerce. The program will provide 10 ambitious startups with the opportunity to explore global aspirations by levering Rakuten’s resources from around the world. The three-month immersive mentorship-driven program includes initial funding and an inspiring work environment, and offers founders access to the Techstars worldwide network of more than 10,000 industry specialists, mentors, founders, and investors. The Techstars global portfolio of over 1,600 companies, including companies like SendGrid, Digital Ocean, PillPack, and Classpass, continues to grow, and to offer unparalleled value to founders who want to build global businesses.
We welcome applications from founders from across the world who are working on technologies that apply to communication, data marketing and digital commerce. Start your application now or keep reading for more information about meeting us or requesting office hours.
Meet the Team
We are holding office hours from January to early April, all over the world, between conferences and Meet & Greet events. If you’d like to meet with us, please check out the dates and times below and fill out this meeting request form. We’d love to hear from you even if we are not able to visit your city. We’ll be hosting frequent virtual office hours.
- Feb 7: Hyderabad – Meet & Greet / Office Hours
- Feb 8: Bangalore – Office Hours
- Feb 20: Berlin (eCommerce Expo) – Office Hours
- Feb 12: Redwood City, CA (StartupGrind Global Conference) – Office Hours
- Feb 15: Boston, MA – Office Hours
- Feb 21: Tokyo (Slush) – Meet & Greet / Office Hours
- Feb 25: Barcelona (MWC/4YFN) – Office Hours
- Mar 4: Tel Aviv (Fintech Week) – Office Hours
- Mar 12: Seoul – Meet & Greet / Office Hours
- Mar 19: Singapore (Money2020) – Office Hours
- Mar 19: San Francisco – Office Hours
- Mar 21: Manila (Echelon) – Office Hours
- Mar 28: Bangkok (Echelon) – Office Hours
- Apr 4: Jakarta (Echelon) – Office Hours
Rakuten Accelerator powered by Techstars Live AMA’s:
We also recommend that you follow us on Twitter for specific updates, new event postings, and live Q&A. Connect with us here: #TechstarsRakuten and @Techstars.
We are excited to announce the ten companies that will be joining Techstars Class 143 – our 2018 Rakuten Accelerator powered by Techstars program in Singapore. We kicked off this week (July 16) and are looking forward to three months of awesomeness, capped off by Demo Day mid October. This is the first program with Rakuten and Viber as partners, and is one of the very first Techstars programs in Asia.
Techstars is the Worldwide Network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and strong partners and mentors help make this happen. We’re grateful for your support over the last couple of years and for this inaugural program and your continued time and guidance. We couldn’t do it without you.
Participants in Rakuten Accelerator will also have access to resources from across Rakuten’s global ecosystem of more than 70 services, including Rakuten Viber messaging and voice platform. With hundreds of millions of users around the world, Viber also recently become the official communication channel of FC Barcelona and Official Instant Messaging and Calling App Partner of the Golden State Warriors.
“We are thrilled to welcome an amazing group of talented entrepreneurs from around the world who share Rakuten’s passion for innovative thinking and empowerment” said Michael Shmilov, COO of Rakuten Viber. “For Rakuten Viber, our mission of borderless communication means constant innovation for the way people connect around the world and we look forward to working together with our inaugural Accelerator class to revolutionize how businesses and consumers use messaging to conduct business and stay connected.”
We are also excited to announce the leadership team for the Rakuten Accelerator: Managing Director Dhritiman Hui and Program Manager Dennis List.
Dhritiman was most recently an Investment Director at Tuscan Ventures – an investment firm based in India, and prior to that an Investment Director BW Ventures, a global investment firm that funded both startups as well as provided growth capital to and brick-and-mortar companies. Dennis List is the former Partnerships and Program Manager for Impact Hub Singapore, and a tech entrepreneur who founded and was CEO of Rocki, a music tech startup which graduated Techstars Boston accelerator in late 2014.
We love this city and know 2018 is going to be an amazing year for Techstars, Rakuten and Singapore!
Without further ado, here are the Techstars Rakuten 2018 companies: