DBS Bank first launched DBS HotSpot in September 2015 as part of the bank's S$10 million commitment to develop the start-up ecosystem.
DBS HotSpot is a pre-accelerator programme for the very early stage start-ups in FinTech, social enterprise and digital technology, as well as innovators within the bank to develop their business ideas and seek funding. According to the bank, this initiative aims to drive innovation and support Singapore's vision of becoming a smart nation.
The programme returns again this year as DBS HotSpot 2016 with two distinct phases: DBS HotSpot Bootcamp, and DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator; and applications are now being accepted until 1 April 2016.
The first phase, DBS HotSpot Bootcamp, will specifically focus on helping early stage start-ups with the conceptualisation of their ideas. They will be provided mentorship and undergo training focused on Human Centred Design and Lean Startup Methodology. Up to 30 start-up teams will be selected to participate in the programme.
Following this, participants will have their first experience of pitching ideas to DBS executives, investors, venture capital firms and accelerators. Up to 10 start-ups will be invited to participate in DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator, where each team will receive an entrepreneur award of S$25,000.
During this second phase from August through November 2016, start-ups will focus on product development, receive legal advice and attend training such as programming and pitch presentation. The teams will also continue to receive mentorship from start-up veterans like Dennis Goh, founder of the restaurant review portal, HungryGoWhere. Other HotSpot mentors include James Tan, Managing Partner of venture capital firm QuestVC.
The DBS HotSpot Pre-Accelerator culminates in Demo Day, whereby the teams will pitch to an audience of corporate executives, angel and venture capital investors, as well as accelerators from all across Asia. After Demo Day, DBS HotSpot investor partners will assist select start-ups with their initial fundraising, while partner accelerators will pick their favourites to present at pitch events throughout Asia.
In addition to Sequoia Capital and Golden Gate Ventures, DBS HotSpot has partnered with 500 Startups, MaGIC, Chinaccelerator, MOX, SOS Ventures, 10K, Marvelstone and Tri5 Ventures.
Fostering entrepreneurship in and out the bank
DBS is also the first bank to encourage entrepreneurship from within the bank by offering fully-paid innovation sabbaticals to join DBS HotSpot. Two start-up ideas incubated last year were Crux, a digital news application focused on Asia that analyses data; as well as Cinch, an integrated financial management system to help SMEs manage invoicing and cashflow.
Both start-ups are now exploring collaborative opportunities with the bank and other external partners.
"We are proud to be the first bank to encourage our employees to follow their ideas, to work on start-up projects and to create innovative products that will better serve customers," said Neal Cross, DBS Chief Innovation Officer.
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