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12 emerging market startups to watch


Emerging market startups are coming into their own and increasingly appearing on the radar of mainstream venture capitalists in established markets. Skype recently announced its interest in investing in Chinese startups. The VoIP service is not the only player seeking a slice of the emerging markets pie – the list of startups grows everyday.

Here are 12 of the many companies staking their claim in up and coming emerging markets:

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DianDian, China

DianDian which means “bit by bit” was founded by Chinese business man Jack Xu. Prior to starting this venture, he was managing RenRen and Kaixin, two Chinese Facebook clones, during the crucial time when these sites boomed in China back in 2009.

According to IT News, DianDian copies around 80% of Tumblr’s functionalities, which is a very common practice for Chinese startups — making localised clones. Tumblr’s emphasis on customisation and ease of use, are its unique selling points. Even though microblogs are already rampant, casual blogging platforms like Tumblr and DianDian focus more on creating and sharing media content such as photos, quotes, links, audio, and video, that can easily be “re-blogged” by anyone. Currently, there are 12-million blogs on Tumblr with an 85% retention rate compared to Twitter’s 40%.

Brite Semiconductor Corp, China

Brite Semiconductor Corp., a fabless chip company and design house founded in 2008 announced this year that is has licensed a broad portfolio of intellectual processor cores from ARM Holdings plc, including Cortex, ARM9, ARM11 and Mali graphics processors on a multi-year deal, as reported by the EE Times.

Brite provides design services to electronics companies and works with foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (Shanghai, China) to get those chips made.

Edutor Technologies, India

Founded by a group of young IITians, EdutorTechnologies launched Edutor Advantage e40, India’s first hand-held home learning device for school students.

After a six-month pilot project, the firm launched the device designed for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) students from class 3 to class 10. Edutor Advantage e40 is a touchscreen device, preloaded with a student’s class-specific, curriculum-aligned content.

Designed to fully engage students, with highly intuitive and interactive touch-screen interface and multi-media content, the device helps students grasp concepts and remember them far more effectively, according to technews24.com.

AnybodyOutThere, Israel

AnybodyOutThere is a platform that helps people easily find other like-minded people to chat without first having to search through numerous forums and what the founders call “endless chat room wastelands”. AnybodyOutThere connects users outside one’s your social circle of friends based on common thoughts and interests.

In its simplest form a user simply posts something they want to talk about. The site then analyses the content by using algorithms and creating a result pages. It’s very similar to Google, but instead its connecting people, rather than information. Users then start a one-on-one conversation on the chat platform once they have posted to the platform.

Looppa, Argentina

Looppa, based in Argentina, identifies the latent opportunity for most organisations to develop branded communities. Fisher Johni, the co-founder, claims Looppa has created a unique platform that can add branded social community capabilities in existing sites – providing them with the highest level of technical tools and applications. The company’s clients include the Dori Media Group (DMG) and Greenpeace.

Bubbly, India

Bubbly, a rising “Twitter for voice” phone service in India, reached 1.2-million paid subscribers in just six months and is gaining 100 000 more each week.

The service, launched in February last year by the Sequoia Capital-backed Bubble Motion, has soared to 2-million overall users in just a few months, quadrupling its first-month launch of 500 000 in March. According to VentureBeat.com. paid subscribers have been on an atmospheric rise, as well – the service had just 200 000 paid subscribers in April.

Compra3, Brazil

Brazilian start-up Compra3 is leaving beta testing and opening up its group buying site to the public, complete with social networking features, more than 100 0000 users, and almost one million products on offer. The site exclusively targets the Brazilian market at the moment, although the company says it is considering some options for expansion to Spain and the US.

The Compra3 business model is similar to that of Chicago-based group buying site Groupon, as Alan Colmenares reports. However there are differences. Users don’t have to wait until a critical mass of buyers is reached before being able to make a purchase (in that sense, it’s a bit like eWinWin). They can immediately purchase an item with a specific discount, say 10%, and then receive cash back throughout the rest of the 30-day buying period as more users purchase the same item, bringing the price down further.

Paga, Nigeria

Paga, the new mobile payment service run by Pagatech has finally been given a license by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The service was in pilot testing mode since late September 2010 and has allowed participants to use their cash to pay bills, purchase recharge cards, transfer money, etc via their mobile phones.

With only about 70 participants in the Pilot of Paga since September, there has been over N2.2 million in transaction volumes and over 100 bill payments for Nigeria’s largest non-telco private sector biller, as Afrinnovator.com explains.

Invoicera, India

Invoicera is an invoicing and billing application focussed on intuitive user interface and uncluttered navigation. The site has variety of advanced features which the founders say differentiate the startup: Invoicera’s invoicing application incorporates advanced invoicing functionality. These include the ability to track times and amounts, multi-language and multi-currency options, automatic invoice scheduling, alerts and reminders and 20 global country payment gateways.

The cloud-based billing and invoicing application targeting the global market of medium and small enterprises, freelancers, professionals and webshops.

Nwalla, Nigeria

One of the challenges for the internet in Africa is that there is a lack of local content online, to help users in Africa shape the content they want. In steps Nwalla, launched as a location-based service to help people discover and share “the next best thing” in their area – eateries, hair stylists, malls, shopping centers, cinemas or just about any place they’ve visited. Today, Nwalla.com has a classifieds site that allows people a buying and selling option. The ultimate aim of the site is to help users make spending decisions by organising information from you and your friends. It was launched using a Facebook application. So far, so good.

Aquilonis Technologies Private Limited, India

Aquilonis is a mobile software solutions and technology company, which provides end-to-end mobile solutions for its clients across the globe. Recognising the potential in the field of mobile solutions, the team at Aquilonis devotes many hours to research, exploration and development. The effort is to offer world class products which would reach mobile users and enrich their mobile experience. One such product which has seen a global release in the recent past is XBLOCKR. It is mobile call management software that helps users to manage calls dynamically. The overwhelming response to the software has proved that we are on the right track. With a strong pipeline of product ideas which will be brought into the market, Aquilonis is poised to revolutionize the mobile space.

Waze, Israel

Waze is a small company can “kick Google’s ass at mapping, but only if they get enough users”. Such as the description of the usually conservative Business Insider magazine in describing the free GPS application that features turn-by-turn navigation.

This company uses crowds to bring better data onto maps than anyone else, according to international tech journalist Robert Scoble. The application is available for download and use anywhere in the world, but some countries have a full basemap, whereas other countries still require users to record the roads and edit the maps.

Currently Waze has a complete base map in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel and parts of South America. Recently Business Insider recorded a video of a test drive using the application.

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