JFDI (the Joyful Frog Digital Incubator), founded in 2010, is one of the earliest startup incubators based in Singapore. Although on its official site it gives the reasons why they chose this name, I really love its un-official one: Just F*cking Do It, which sounds perfect for doing startups.
Recently at the HUB Singapore, a nice co-working space located at Somerset road, I bumped into the founders of JFDI, Hugh Mason and Meng Wong who were doing a workshop with a group of first freshman from the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
“There are more and more startup incubators set up in China, which I can understand because the market there is massive and we are not lacking of startups.” I said the Hugh, “but Singapore is a small market, how successful can you drive a startup incubator you think?”
“Singapore market is small, but the market itself has its unique characteristics, for example, the mixture of culture, the very international local community etc, which actually creates loads of opportunities for startups to solve all sorts of problems. And Singapore is also the tech hub of South East Asia, it’s common to see Singapore-based startups with focus on South East Asia market. JFDI’s focus is on digital applications made in Asia, for Asia, not just for Singapore”, said Hugh.
Meng Wong explained to me how JFDI’s accelerator program works. Each startup selected by JFDI will be given S$15,000 pre-seed funding and JFDI takes 5-20% of the equity depending on the stage of this project. The startups are given 100 days before the final Demo day when each startup will give a talk on stage to pitch ten of investors invited by JFDI.
JFDI just finished its first semester. The outcome seems pretty good, about 60-70% of the startup incubated will close seed funding in the next few weeks, totalling around S$4million. Hugh and Meng are definitely happy with it. Talking about the future plan of JFDI, Hugh said that there will not be another edition of the program for this year. “It’s the first program we’ve done and it’s quite successful, but there is lots for us to review and think what we were good at and what could be improved. Starting from next year, we are planning to run similar program twice a year, and by end of 2015, we want to accelerate 100 startups!” Obviously, JFDI believes that startup incubator model can work very well in Singapore.
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