Tag Archives: expands

GM expands Maven car sharing to Toronto

 GM has launched its first major international city for its Maven car sharing product. The service is going live in Toronto, Canada’s largest city by population, with rates beginning at $9 per hour which include gas and insurance coverage. The launch follows a prior pilot in the Waterloo region nearby, but Toronto is the first launch at scale Maven has undertaken outside of the U.S.… Read More

SMEs Are Our Future, So The FinLab Expands Its Accelerator Programme To Help Them Grow

Many entrepreneurs and business people say Singapore is one of the best places in the world to do business.

There is no lack of government grants and subsidies, or mentorships and workshops for first-time entrepreneurs who are striking it out on their own or with their partners.

But small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore are getting left out and are getting disrupted by the new kids on the block with their technology-driven solutions and modern business models.

So, this is where The FinLab comes in.

They have announced yesterday (12 February) the launch of the third cycle of its accelerator programme that aims to help SMEs with digital transformation by linking them up with “curated technology solution providers”.

Providing An Access To Tools And Resources For SMEs

The FinLab is a joint venture between United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB) and SGInnovate, a government-backed venture catalyst.

Since its inception in 2015, it has conducted two cycles of accelerator programmes that focused on supporting selected FinTech startups to grow the FinTech ecosystem in Singapore.

This time, they decided to focus on SMEs in Singapore because they noticed that they have been slow in keeping up with the times and transforming their businesses digitally.

They found two key barriers for the slow uptake: the lack of interoperability between solutions installed, and the lack of support from the vendors they got these solutions from.

Managing Director of The FinLab, Mr Felix Tan / Image Credit: The FinLab

Managing Director of The FinLab, Mr Felix Tan, said, “As these start-ups become more advanced in their business models, there is a need to help them commercialise by connecting them with potential customers who require technology solutions.”

“We’ve also seen that SMEs want to innovate but may not know where and how to start,” he added.

Image Credit: SPRING Singapore

According to The FinLab, SMEs make up 99 per cent of all local enterprises, employ two-thirds of the national workforce, and contribute to nearly half of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Stronger SMEs will make our economy more resilient to cyclical downturns,” Mr Tan stated.

Forming the demand side of things, this cycle for SMEs aims to grow revenues and increase productivity through business model innovation, the use of data analytics, and the adoption of an integrated suite of curated solutions.

At the same time, on the supply side of things, selected solution providers can benefit from the increased adoption of their solutions, co-creating with the selected SMEs to widen their product offerings, and the potential to reach regional SME markets.

Selected SMEs are not limited to tools and resources from curated tech solution providers as The FinLab will support with the implementation of the solutions.

Should these SMEs require more assistance after the accelerator programme, “The FinLab is open to extending their support further,” Mr Tan told me.

If participants have expansion aspirations, this programme enables them to take advantage of UOB’s regional presence and SGInnovate’s global linkages to achieve that.

The Path To Digitalisation

Eight SMEs from specifically the F&B, retail, wholesale trade, and logistics industries will be chosen to participate in this four-months long programme which will begin by end-March.

To qualify, these SMEs should have a turnover of S$10 million to S$25 million, but more importantly, their owners and management team should have a few important qualities.

Mr Tan explained that leaders have to be open-minded to feedback and solutions, be willing to change, and are able to provide resources who can commit to the programme in order to see optimal results.

Tech firms will pitch the solutions to these selected SMEs in the first month.

The FinLab’s guidelines on selecting these solution providers include their interoperability, affordability, the number of SME clients they’ve worked with before, and the functionality and practicality of their solutions to these non-tech savvy business owners.

The remaining three months will be spent on implementing the solutions and preparing for the showcase which is expected to happen in August 2018.

The programme is worth more than $100,000, but The FinLab is working with relevant government agencies to provide grants to help defray the costs of adoption.

Financial costs are a total of $12,000 for each SME for the four months.

The FinLab hope their participants will achieve the ability to start using the tools with minimal external help, see real productivity gains as processes are refined, and see real revenue growth through client understanding and better marketing and sales strategies.

“I strongly believe that once these challenges are overcome…SME owners will become the next generation of ‘SME Champions’ as their businesses capitalise on a digital economy that is set to grow by USD$1 trillion in GDP by 2025 here in ASEAN alone,” Mr Tan said.

Cycle 3 of the FinLab’s accelerator programme is now underway.

Visit The FinLab’s website here to find out more. If you would like to participate in Cycle 3, visit their website here.

Featured Image Credit: UOB Group

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Amazon expands Prime Now delivery to Whole Foods, but only in four markets

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Since Amazon bought Whole Foods last year for 13.7 billion, we’ve seen the online retailer dish out discounts and outfit many Whole Foods locations with Echo devices for you to buy along with your free-range chicken. Now, Amazon is integrating Whole Foods into its Prime Now delivery service, allowing Prime customers to order select Whole Foods items and get them delivered within two hours.

However, this new endeavor isn’t a sweeping change yet—Prime Now delivery for Whole Foods orders is only now available in some Austin, Dallas, Virginia Beach, and Cincinnati neighborhoods. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon plans to expand the service to other markets, but it’s unclear how long the expansion will take.

Customers can search through the Whole Foods section of the Prime Now website online or on Amazon’s mobile apps to select items to order. Fresh produce, meat, seafood, and some alcohol will be available, but not all Whole Foods items are eligible for quick delivery. Two-hour delivery is free for all Prime members with orders of $35 or more, and customers can pay an extra $7.99 to have their items delivered within one hour.

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