Unilever’s Southeast Asia and Australian region has launched its first Foundry 30 today, a list of start-ups that it believes are poised to affect technological and social change in the markets.
It is an extension of Unilever Foundry, which has been operating in the region since 2015, and is part of the Millennial 2020 event that is taking place in Singapore this week.
According to Unilever, creating a Foundry 30 list is important because the region is one of the fastest growing for internet adoption, as well as noting interesting trends, such as key markets having a rising middle class. Unilever says that as it develops itself in Southeast Asia, it wants to simultaneously commit to its pledge to connect early stage businesses with its business problems.
Speaking to The Drum, Barbara Guerpillon, head of Unilever Foundry SEAA and LEVEL3, the FMCG brand’s co-working space in Singapore, said linking start-ups to business problems has been a key reason why the Foundry programme continues to deliver value over two years on.
“There is a strong place for Foundry in SEA. Globally we have done 110 pilots in three years, while in Singapore, the first year with a full cycle of pilots was last year and that was 15, this year we had 25. Clearly, there is appetite from the business and the brands but also there are start-ups here that can answer our problems,” she explained.
She added that a key reason that Foundry is still developing and growing is that the FMCG business measures throughout the entire process, helping articulate its value to all stakeholders.
"We have iterated Foundry a lot and tweaked the model a lot but the Unilever Foundry model works very well for us. There are key things that we are doing that makes it work for us, which is sharing information but also measuring. We measure every single project that we are running through a ‘brief, pitch, pilot’ process after the project. When you measure, you care,” said Guerpillon.
In terms of the intake for Foundry 30, Guerpillon said the start-ups would be focused on Foundry’s original area of marketing tech and ad tech. “That is how it started three years ago. But now we are looking at enterprise tech, which covers data and analytics, finance and HR etc, and also social impact start-ups. In the future, we will look in Southeast Asia at product innovation.”
This year’s Foundry 30 are as follows:
Crazy S.O.B (IL)
DÄV - Digital Avatar (ID)
FOMO Pay Pte. Ltd. (SG)
Happi Pte Ltd (SG)
Moving Walls (MY)
Neuro Flash (DE)
Picasso Labs (US)
Shopback Singapore (SG)
Wootag Pte Ltd (SG)