UPSTARTS Awards has concluded its first-ever APAC Retail Startup hybrid pitch event in collaboration with Startup&Angels. The event took place in Singapore on the 7th of July where an audience of 130+ and a panel of judges celebrated the next generation of startups shaping Asia’s retail landscape.
One startup that stood out from their competitors and particularly caught the attention of the judges was retail tech startup Fairmart. The company supports Singaporean local independent retailers by helping stores automatically digitise all their products using a smart barcode scanner which enables online searches.
As a recap for those who might have missed the event, Retail in Asia caught up with Pierre Vanrenterghem, General Manager at Rosemont Business Asia – Singapore, and MC at the APAC Retail Startup hybrid pitch event. Together we discussed which startup among all 5 participants at the pitching event showed the most potential, how participating in a pitching event may benefit startups in Asia, and Asia’s business environment as opposed to other parts of the world.
RiA: As the MC of the APAC Retail Live Pitch Event and an experienced business strategist in Asia, what kind of advice would you offer the participants at the UPSTARTS Awards?
Pierre: Startup entrepreneurs have been pitching us ideas.
While the point of these pitches isn’t to sell the judges a dream, the most successful startups are able to convey a new perspective or a vision of their industry. Through this, the startups can demonstrate the relevance of their product or service offering.
It is necessary that the pitch responds to an underlying or clearly apparent need within the industry. It must demonstrate that the startup is doing business in a different and more competitive manner than the already established players. Finally, the pitch must be crisp and clear to reflect the structure and capabilities of its entrepreneurs.
RiA: Among all five businesses that joined the pitch, which do you think has the most potential and why?
Pierre: I am rooting for Splashup because online e-commerce is still booming, and I believe that the startup demonstrated key innovative solutions to improving online shoppers experience. Furthermore, they have also shown potential for improving conversions and retention rates for online retailers.
RiA: What made Fairmart stood out among other startups? And how can startups looking to join the UPSTARTS Awards learn from their pitch?
Pierre: The most convincing points from Fairmart’s pitch were its storytelling and its ability to demonstrate real-life case studies benefits for both users and businesses.
RiA: How do you think participating in a pitching event may benefit startups in Asia?
Pierre: Pitching events have multiple advantages for startups. Firstly, they will be able to build their narratives and reasoning around the gap they fill in a market or industry. Second, they can test their business models and observe and hear reactions from panelists as well as participants, their BP should be rock solid. Moreover, discussing and sharing is always an opportunity to evolve and improve their products and offerings by confronting them with real life investors, potential suppliers/clients and customers.
RiA: You have been working in Asia since 2009, but what initially drew you to Asia? How does the business environment differ from other parts of the world?
Pierre: Southeast Asia is one of if not the most dynamic region in the world, and it has been growing fast, mostly driven by emerging markets where scores of opportunities remain. The people are hardworking while retaining strong cultural and traditional ties that make for challenging markets which stimulate our careers and lives. By living in Asia, I have been feeling like being part of a fast moving and dynamic part of the world where everything is possible and new ideas sprout.
RiA: How do you think the business/ retail landscape in Asia will evolve post-covid?
Pierre: I believe that listening to startups’ pitches is an excellent way to complement and update our vision of the retail landscape in Asia. Like our event, the shopping experience will remain hybrid. Customers have had no choice but to experience online buying, in the post-COVID world the online experience will increase as a complementary buying experience to real life stores.
As demonstrated by the startups pitching, the retail experience has immense opportunities for improvements and the dynamic behaviours in Asia offer fertile grounds for experiments and innovations. It is an exciting evolution to witness!
UPSTARTS entry submissions opened on 1st June 2022 and will be closed on 15th August 2022. Winners will be selected by leaders and experts across brand, retail and startup sectors, more requirements and key dates here.
Asian Retail Startups interested in participating in the UPSTARTS awards can find more information here.