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Hong Kong Startup News Roundup - 23 August 2020


Hong Kong Based Neat Raises US$4M in Series A Extension


Neat, a Hong Kong-based fintech startup, announced that it has raised a US$4 million extension to their US$11 million Series A round which closed in April 2020.

The company provides an online company incorporation package and fully-digital multi-currency wallet to fit the needs of international entrepreneurs today.

Existing investors MassMutual Ventures, Pacific Century Group, Linear Capital and Robby Hilkowitz as well as new investor Vectr Fintech participated in the Series A extension.

Neat’s vision is to enable the entrepreneur economy and support SMEs trading globally. While global travel has come to a standstill, cross-border trade has not. SMEs trading internationally are increasingly looking for online alternatives to facilitate their international business needs.


Hong Kong based Lever VC, hits first close of new fund at $23m

Lever VC, a New York and Hong Kong-based venture capital firm that invests in early-stage alternative protein startups, has reached the first close of Lever VC Fund I with $23 million in capital commitments, it announced in a statement on Monday. 

Lever VC, whose partners include early investors in Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Memphis Meats, plans to use the new vehicle to back early-stage, plant-based and cell-cultivated meat and dairy companies. 

About 70 per cent of capital commitments to the fund came from Hong Kong and Asia family offices, conglomerates with diversified interest including consumer products, as well as players in the food industry that expect to gain exposure to the high-growth alternative protein sector, according to the statement. 


Betatron participates in funding round of Text Mercato Rs 48.5m led by 1Crowd

Text Mercato, digital cataloguing startup that serves e-commerce platforms, has raised Rs 4.85 crore in a funding from a clutch of investors.

While the funding is led by 1Crowd, others who have participated include Hong Kong-based startup accelerator Betatron, and angel investors Andrew Dell - former head HSBC Africa, and Raaj Shah, CFO of Sequent Software, the startup said in a note.

Bengaluru-based Text Mercato was founded by Kiran Ramakrishna and Subhajit Mukherjee in 2015, and serves the content needs of digital companies.

1Crowd is an early-stage venture investment fund and a platform - set up in 2015 - to provide an institutionalised approach to investing in startups, and has invested over Rs 100 crore in 31 startups across sectors, ranging from enterprise tech and deep tech to B2C startups.

Text Mercato aims to disrupt the multi-department and multi-role problem of listing and marketing a product into one single seamless process by focussing on end-to-end stacks, single sign-ons, central management and scale across languages.


SenseTime, the Chinese AI giant blacklisted by Trump, sees demand surge during coronavirus


The future of China’s largest artificial intelligence company was thrown into question last year when it was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Today, SenseTime Group is thriving with growing demand for its facial recognition software, especially as local governments in China adopt its technology to battle the coronavirus.

The Hong Kong-based start-up’s revenue surged 147 per cent to 5 billion yuan (US$720 million) in 2019 and its customer base increased by about 500 to 1,200 clients, according to co-founder Xu Bing. Sales are on track to climb 80 per cent this year to about 9 billion yuan and gross profit could double, according to people familiar with the matter.

“We see business demand for ways to mitigate the virus outbreak on the rise,” Xu said in a phone interview. He and SenseTime declined to comment on revenue projections in an emailed statement.


Hong Kong protein alternatives start-up eyes juicy cut of sector forecast to reach US$630 billion by 2040

Carrie Chan Kai-yi started exploring entrepreneurial opportunities while still working as a property manager at a Hong Kong real estate company in 2010, but the idea for protein alternatives came to her only five years ago, when she became vegan primarily for environmental reasons.

But instead of plant-based foods, she turned to what she believed was an easier option, but one with bigger business potential – cell-cultivated meat.

She quit her job two years ago and co-founded Avant Meats, Hong Kong’s first and only such meat start-up, with Dr Mario Chin, who is the company’s chief scientist.

Cell-cultivated or cell-based meat refers to consumable meat products grown from animal stem cells and does not require any animal slaughter. The segment is expected to touch US$630 billion and account for 35 per cent of the total US$1,800 billion global meat market by 2040, according to an estimate by consulting firm AT Kearney released last year. It is also estimated to surpass plant-based meats. No cell-cultivated meat products have been launched as of now.


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