I’m wrapping up my 6-month Asia tour with DEMO Asia in Singapore, and it’s not a shabby finish: I’ve seen over 70 startups launch or pitch, as well as talks with VC Jeff Clavier and Adeo Ressi of the Founder Institute.
Most of the demoing startups hail from Asia, but the trends are familiar: customer loyalty apps, food and fun discovery platforms, tools to speed up software development, and a few cool gadgets. Below are my 6 favorites (all from Singapore):
- FIETT: Creators of ISGLOVES, a dead simple but genius product: warm winter gloves that still let you operate your touchscreen (instead of unlocking your phone with your half-frostbitten nose). The cofounders are students at the National University of Singapore. Currently selling in Sweden, FIETT hopes to expand to the US market soon.
- Splaype: An app that adds a sidebar to your Skype conversation where you can play games, watch videos, or read books to your children. Apparently Skyping with kids can be challenging: their attention strays after a few minutes, and grandparents or traveling parents have trouble connecting with them. The company is considering a white-label version to sell to schools or hospitals.
- Pixtelz: Creators of CuteChat, a video chat client that lets you change the background behind you. You can blur it or swap in another, or use that space to show photos or videos (as in a business presentation). You can even change the size of your image and move it around the screen. The uses are endless but not all are honorable: sharing vacation photos, covering up a messy room, pretending you’re at work, or hiding someone else who is watching and listening. As a bonus, it also reduces the bandwidth required for a video chat.
- CtrlWorks: Creators of a Telepresence Puppet (see photo) that can attend events or meetings in your place. Think Sheldon’s “mobile virtual presence device” on Big Bang Theory. It could be used by doctors visiting patients, receptionists, telecommuters, or conference attendees, but for now their pilot is with a public hospital in Singapore.
- Sofshell: Shock-absorbent material that is flexible but hardens upon impact, a candidate for everything from football gear to phone cases. In an incredibly loud and energetic presentation, they went so far as to drop a bowling ball on an iPhone covered with Sofshell – and it survived. (The presenter proceeded to take a call from his mother, saying he would be late for dinner because he had to talk to investors. Loud cheers and whistling ensued.)
- PayWhere (not launching or pitching, just exhibiting): Creators of a tool called TackThis for building an online store that can be posted to your blog, Facebook, or LiveJournal. (TackThis generates the code, and you just paste it in.) Input your wares through their one platform, and all your stores will be automatically updated. Customers can order directly from your social network or blog pages.
FIETT, Sofshell, and Pixtelz all won DEMOguru awards (chosen by the judges) – along with email backup tool Dropmyemail and free roaming service FlexiRoam – and developer tool Hoiio API took home the People’s Choice award (and a trip to Plug and Play in Silicon Valley).