DBS Bank has officially launched DBS HotSpot 2016, and applications are now being accepted until 1 April 2016. This is the second run of the pre-accelerator programme for very early stage start-ups in fintech, social enterprise, and digital technology as well as innovators within the bank to develop their business ideas and seek funding.
DBS was the first bank in the region to organise a wholly-owned pre-accelerator programme when it launched DBS HotSpot in September 2015, as part of its SGD10 million commitment to develop the start-up ecosystem. Unlike most accelerator programmes, DBS does not require participating entrepreneurs to relinquish equity.
Building on the inaugural programme, DBS HotSpot 2016 will have two distinct phases: DBS HotSpot Bootcamp and DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator.
The first phase, DBS HotSpot Bootcamp, will specifically focus on helping early stage start-ups with the conceptualisation of their ideas. They will be provided mentorship and undergo training focused on Human Centered Design and Lean Startup Methodology. Up to 30 start-up teams will be selected to participate in the programme.
Following Bootcamp, participants will have their first experience of pitching ideas to DBS executives, investors, venture capital firms and accelerators. Up to 10 start-ups will be invited to participate in DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator where each team will receive an entrepreneur award of SGD25,000. Entrepreneurs give up zero equity.
During this second phase from August through November, start-ups will focus on product development, receive legal advice and attend training such as programming and pitch presentation. The teams will also continue to receive mentorship from start-up veterans like Dennis Goh, founder of the restaurant review portal, HungryGoWhere. Other HotSpot mentors include James Tan, Managing Partner of QuestVC, the venture capital firm which has backed companies such as Carousell, 99.co and Vulcan Post.
DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator culminates in Demo Day where the teams pitch to an audience of corporate executives, angel and venture capital investors, and accelerators from all across Asia. After Demo Day, DBS HotSpot investor partners will assist select start-ups with their initial fundraising while partner accelerators will pick their favourites to present at pitch events throughout Asia.In addition to Sequoia Capital and Golden Gate Ventures, DBS HotSpot has partnered with 500 Startups, MaGIC, Chinaccelerator, MOX, SOS Ventures, 10K, Marvelstone and Tri5 Ventures.
Encouraging Entrepreneurship Internally and Externally
Notable start-ups that came through last year’s programme include Travez, an online travel platform that provides specially curated itineraries, and InvoiceInterchange, a P2P invoice trading marketplace that helps SMEs manage cashflow. Following last year’s Demo Day, InvoiceInterchange went on to win the ‘Best Early Stage Start-up’ at Fintech Finals 2016 in Hong Kong, co-organised by Next Bank.
Said Brian Teng, co-founder of InvoiceInterchange, “DBS HotSpot provided us a conducive environment to grow and build our service. Not only were we able to gain diverse perspectives from other participants, the networking and mentorship were definitely invaluable too. We are extremely grateful to have been part of DBS’s first pre-accelerator programme.”
DBS is also the first bank to encourage entrepreneurship from within the bank by offering fully-paid innovation sabbaticals to join DBS HotSpot. Two start-up ideas incubated last year were Crux, a digital news application focused on Asia that analyses data, as well as Cinch, an integrated financial management system to help SMEs manage invoicing and cashflow. Both start-ups are now exploring collaborative opportunities with the bank and other external partners.
DBS Chief Innovation Officer Neal Cross said, “We are promoting entrepreneurship externally and within the bank. We are proud to be the first bank to encourage our employees to follow their ideas, to work on start-up projects and to create innovative products that will better serve customers.”
DBS HotSpot is part of the bank’s larger goal of driving innovation and supporting Singapore’s vision of becoming a smart nation. Cross said, “All around us we see innovation happening and we are not sitting on the sidelines. We want to take an active role in participating, creating opportunities and leading the start-up ecosystem here in Singapore and the region. DBS HotSpot provides a unique melting pot of ideas and I am looking forward to raising the bar for early stage start-ups across Asia including within DBS.”
To learn more about DBS HotSpot visit http://go.dbs.com/hotspot