On just about every Ho Chi Minh City street corner there are idle xe oms waiting for a fare. Hoping to capitalize on this unused resource is GrabTaxi. The company has started to connect and incorporate xe oms into its taxi app. It’s a beta project currently only available in Vietnam. I recently tested out the service using the GrabTaxi app but only saw one motorbike driver nearby, as opposed to the 36 taxis in the area. Obviously, GrabTaxi is still trying to source and convince xe oms to join the new venture. GrabTaxi usually gives out smartphones to its taxi drivers, so it’ll likely be offering the same with the motorbike drivers as an added benefit to join their network.
Rockit Online just secured USD500,000 from three investors in Silicon Valley: Learn Capital, John Katzman and Formation 8. The company is an online education website that focuses on teaching Vietnamese children math, science, English and test preparation (IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC) through live interaction with teachers. The key to its success is to connect middle and high school students with teachers (currently employs 50) in virtual classroom sizes of five or less. Rockit Online’s founders are made locals and Americans, possibly giving them a slight edge on the Vietnameseonly competition already out there. No doubt the Valley investment also lends new perspectives to the team. According to an official statement, Rockit plans to expand throughout Southeast Asia in the near future, which is good news for Learn Capital because it has allotted USD100 million to future investments in education startups across the world and is keen to focus more on Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, there are only a few online startups that focus on education and that includes DeltaViet, Udemy and Topica (which hosts over 1,000 teachers on its online certification programs). Alongside these are Zuni, LeeRit, HocMoi and GiapSchool, also trying to break into a potentially profitable market. Statistics show Vietnamese parents spend a significant amount of their income on children’s education and the Vietnamese education system is struggling to serve a workforce that cannot keep up with the economy. Therefore, these startups address an urgent systemic issue for Vietnam’s potential continued growth.
Appota has unveiled a social mobile gaming app called onClan. Do Tuan Anh, founder and CEO of Appota, says the product is a social mobile gaming platform aimed at gamers who want to interact through their favorite mobile games. The mobile app, available on Android and iOS, is an evolution of the social gaming platforms that already exist. Game Center from Apple solely exists on the iOS platform and only logs scores, leader boards, and challenges limited to just friends. Google’s Play Games system also offers similar limited services. On the other hand, onClan provides the front end interface for gamers to chat with each other, post tutorials, share achievements and recommend new games. It’s like Facebook for gamers. Appota goes direct to the users and solves problems they believe are specific to gamers. One example of onClan’s gamer-specific functionality is the availability of creating multiple anonymous accounts. The app allows users to create many names under one account so gamers can play in different games with various aliases. According to Do, this is a feature gamers really want and he believes onClan’s methodology will create higher engagement beyond that currently possible. This is in a market worth USD12.3 billion with over 1.2 billion gamers worldwide. By the end of 2015, Appota hopes to have 30 million worldwide users
Anh Minh-Do is the editor at TechInAsia.com for Vietnam, focusing on technology startups, trends and companies. Minh is on the board of Starthub.vn – a database and forum for startups dedicated to the growth of Vietnam’s business industry.