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From local to global: How S'pore tech firms boost growth with strategic industry-player partnerships

From local to global: How S'pore tech firms boost growth with strategic industry-player partnerships

Robo-advisor platform Bambu and live streaming solution provider BeLive leverage collaborations with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft to gain new leads and speed up their go-to-market process

Digital services are more interconnected than ever before. With the touch of a button in a mobile app, one can make online purchases, pay bills, and even send “e-angbaos” to loved ones.

While many such online transactions seem simple to the average consumer, beneath the surface is a complex network of interconnected systems working together to make them happen seamlessly.

Similar to how it is key for these systems to work closely together, businesses are also forming strategic partnerships to develop better product offerings and access more business opportunities. Some work with companies that complement their capabilities, while others partner businesses with networks they may not typically have access to.

Recognising the value of collaboration and creating synergy, local firms such as Bambu and BeLive tapped on the support from Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) – a joint office of the government set up to drive the growth of the tech sector – to form strategic partnerships with other businesses in the ecosystem.

Offering reliable robo-advisor services backed by established cloud platforms

Ned Philips and Ned Philips and Pierre Valentin
Mr Ned Phillips (left), founder and CEO of Bambu, and Mr Pierre Valentin (middle), chief product officer of Bambu, speak with potential prospects at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2022. Photo: Bambu

The advent of robo-advisors has made it simpler to invest passively, with customisable portfolios tailored to one’s risk appetite and automated rebalancing to respond to changes in the market.

While many robo-advisory platforms are positioned as alternatives to traditional wealth management services, established players like banks are increasingly looking to offer robo- advisors as an option for their customers.

However, building such a service from scratch requires a significant investment of time and money, says Mr Ned Phillips, founder and CEO of Singapore-based wealth-tech service provider Bambu.

“If you want to build your own robo-advisor, you will need to set aside $20 million to $40 million, hire a team of 50 to 80 people, and have a marketing budget of $10 million to $15 million a year,” he says.

This is why several major financial institutions like Standard Chartered, Principal Asset Management and Franklin Templeton adopted a partnership approach, choosing to work with Bambu – a company that had the expertise to build robo-advisors and develop the product offering in a more cost-effective manner.

Mr Phillips notes that coming up with the investment algorithm is just one aspect of building a robo-adviser. The “real challenge” lies in integrating the platform with other existing software like core banking systems, customer relationship management systems and payment providers, and ensuring all the systems work seamlessly with each other.

Following discussions with DISG, Bambu learnt that it would also benefit from partnering closely and strategically with a cloud service provider like AWS, to ensure service reliability and security of its robo-advisors.

While Bambu had been a customer of AWS since it was founded in 2016, the company formed a strategic partnership with AWS and joined the AWS Partner Network in 2021. Under the partnership, Bambu works closely with AWS to “co-build, co-sell and co-market” its services, says Mr Phillips.

Besides ensuring that Bambu’s robo-advisors work smoothly on the cloud, the partnership also gives Bambu the opportunity to showcase its tech capabilities to other companies on the AWS Partner Network, and potentially engage them as new customers.

In the case of the partnership between Bambu and AWS, DISG also discussed with AWS on assigning Bambu a dedicated partnerships lead – an AWS staff member who helps ensure the partnership process goes smoothly – when the Singapore firm joined the AWS Partner Network.

Such engagements by DISG with digital carriers like cloud service providers are part of this joint office’s efforts to help local tech firms build strong channels and partnerships within the wider ecosystem, which allows companies like Bambu to expand their reach and serve the current customers.

Utilising a partnership lead from AWS helped us in the early growth stages of our deployment to the Cloud. Our API (application programme interface) Library required certain cloud technologies to support our high-frequency digital wealth products. We also needed to keep our costs to a minimum. The knowledge provided to us by the partnerships lead helped Bambu scale up and scale down the AWS infrastructure efficiently. From this, we only paid for the services we needed in real-time.

Mr Ned Phillips

Founder and CEO of Bambu

More deals sealed with increased exposure and an expanded network

BeLive with Microsoft Team
BeLive and Microsoft representatives during a meeting to discuss and align on a partnership growth strategy and roadmap to provide more holistic solutions to both company’s customers. Photo: Belive

With the meteoric rise of video streaming on social media platforms, many businesses are looking to tap on the potential of live-streaming for marketing, events and education or training.

This is the solution offered by BeLive Technology, a Singapore company backed by IMDA’s Accreditation Programme, that creates customised live-streaming video solutions for applications like live shopping and edutainment.

This local tech firm has managed to expand its tech solution overseas, powering live-streaming for companies such as online fashion retailer Zalora, which hosts the “Z-Live” show, featuring style tips and exclusive discounts, as well as e-commerce platforms Bukalapak in Indonesia and Rakuten in Japan and more.

Mr Kenneth Tan, co-founder and chief executive of BeLive, says integrated live-streaming offers companies valuable marketing insights such as engagement metrics and analytics which may not be accessible to the same degree on third-party platforms.

In 2022, BeLive entered a partnership with Microsoft, after Mr Tan was introduced to the company’s chief partner officer Kevin Chan at an industry event organised by DISG in late 2022.

Through its work with Microsoft, BeLive integrated its services more smoothly with its clients’ existing systems hosted on Microsoft Azure.

The close partnership between BeLive and Microsoft has also enabled the former to co-develop market strategies and new use cases for its customers.

“We are in the process of being listed on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace. When that happens, our solutions will be more easily available to customers on the Microsoft Cloud,” says Mr Tan.

After BeLive decided to join Microsoft’s partner programme, DISG also helped to accelerate the company’s onboarding onto Microsoft Cloud, reducing the time needed to do so from three months to just two weeks.

After BeLive decided to join Microsoft’s partner programme, DISG also helped to accelerate the company’s onboarding onto Microsoft Cloud, reducing the time needed to do so from three months to just two weeks.

Mr Tan says BeLive was able to close a major deal with a large retail mall as a result of the partnership with Microsoft. He adds that Microsoft's extensive network has increased BeLive's exposure to potential customers, many of which are exclusively using Microsoft Azure and would not consider using the company's services unless Microsoft Azure is supported.

Microsoft has a deep ecosystem of partnerships with retailers and mall operators, so we do see Microsoft as a very integral part of our business going forward.

Mr Kenneth Tan

Co-founder and Chief Executive of BeLive

Leveraging partnerships for further business growth

PIXEL networking event
Local tech companies at an industry networking session in 2022 organised by DISG and IMDA in 2022, where the discussion was anchored on the topic of seizing opportunities in Asean. Photo: DISG

Besides supporting tech companies like Bambu and BeLive on their engagements with cloud computing platforms like AWS and Azure, DISG also leverages resources and programmes across government agencies to support tech companies in their growth. Its assistance extends to supporting companies and facilitating partnerships in areas such as research and development, product innovation, as well as market access.

For instance, Mr Tan says that DISG also introduced BeLive to potential business opportunities both in Singapore and overseas.

In 2022, DISG in collaboration with IMDA, organised a series of networking events for local tech companies to interact with one another after the easing of pandemic restrictions, providing them with an opportunity to meet with each other physically, and discuss potential partnership projects that could help grow their businesses.

BeLive was a participant of some of these networking sessions, where they were introduced to other players in the tech ecosystem with common interest areas, such as harnessing data in the digital economy and use of immersive technologies.

The company was also introduced by DISG to large e-commerce players in Africa, Latin America, and Turkey, which helped them in expanding their reach in these regions.

As for Bambu, Mr Philips says DISG also helped to introduce the company to partners such as banks and financial institutions in overseas markets like Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, the United States and Germany, to support its growth internationally.

In addition, DISG also engages closely with large non-tech local and global companies, to identify potential problem statements which local tech firms can potentially co-innovate solutions for. Such collaborations also help these local tech firms build up their track record.

These are all part of DISG’s efforts to achieve its mission to establish Singapore as a global-Asia technology hub with deep capabilities, strong infrastructure and a vibrant ecosystem of local and global enterprises, from which new products, services, business models and partnerships are created for Asia and beyond.

Digital Industry Singapore (DISG) is a joint office of the Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore, and Infocomm Media Development Authority, established to support the growth of the technology sector in Singapore.

Learn more about DISG.

Brought to you by DISG

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