What’s to Come: Brinc’s Predictions for 2023

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As Brinc embarks on a new year, there is a palpable sense of anticipation and potential in the air. All members of the Brinc team are privileged to be at the forefront of innovation, working with ambitious startups and entrepreneurs who strive to make a positive impact on the world through their groundbreaking ideas.

From its unique vantage point, Brinc can get a glimpse into what the future may hold. And as 2023 commences, the team is filled with excitement about the possibilities that technological advancements may bring, and looks forward to the additional nine programs being launched this year (as announced in Brinc: 2022 Year in Review).

In this spirit, Brinc team members shared their insights and predictions for the year ahead. Their responses provide valuable insight into what to expect from Brinc in terms of new programming and technological innovation, and highlight the company’s ongoing commitment to promoting a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable world.

The Brinc team hopes that these thoughts inspire you in the same way that they inspire them.

 

What are you most looking forward to in 2023 at Brinc and why?

 

Guillermo Ginesta – Managing Director, Hong Kong

“I am also really excited to expand our footprint across Asia Pacific, one of our key regions and home to our global headquarters. We are launching funds out of Singapore, and we are also actively looking at supporting companies coming out of Japan, Taiwan, and Korea with our Web3 programs, and looking at leveraging Hong Kong as a springboard for our global startups into the rest of the region.

“More companies are stating genuine concern for sustainability. Across Web3, food technology, and in fact across all our verticals, startups are beginning to integrate sustainability measures into their business.

“I’m also excited to continue to promote healthcare in order to enhance how we live, move, eat, and feel, in keeping with Brinc’s initial messaging from eight years ago. We’ve stayed true to our mission, and we feel it’s more relevant than ever.

“Another space I’ll be watching closely in 2023 is Web3 and blockchain in general. I think the crypto space still has to correct and consolidate, and I am looking forward to more regulation in the space. Having said that, I look forward to seeing a differentiation between blockchain and crypto, where blockchain finds more use cases, more adoption and more scale — this will probably come through gaming, education, healthcare, finance and logistics. As long as companies like Ajuna keep finding creative, positive ways to implement the technology, the space will survive and eventually thrive.”

Do you know any high-growth startups that mix profit and purpose whose short-term commercialization needs fit Brinc’s investment thesis? If so, please direct them to https://www.brinc.io/accelerators/ so they can learn more and apply.

Bashar Aboudaoud – Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, MENA

“We are excited to announce the launch of our venture funds in Singapore in 2023. There is a lot of work going on to bring those to life. Brinc has built a strong reputation as a reliable partner for VCs, governments, and corporations, as evidenced by the support we’ve received for our accelerators in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Building on this trust, we are now expanding our offerings by working with investors to launch dedicated funds. Additionally, we are in the final stages of selecting the UAE as the second location for our fund management team. 2023 will be a transformative year as we continue to grow and build out our venture management team in Singapore and the UAE.”

Yasin Aboudaoud – Managing Partner, MENA

“This year in MENA we are most looking forward to the growing ecosystem in the region from the Gulf Corporation Council to the levant. With entrepreneurs flocking to the UAE for Web3 and climate tech business, we foresee lots of opportunities for Brinc to lead the way in supporting and funding startups. We hope that as our team expands across the region, we establish and raise our own MENA fund to help fuel our impact on the growing ecosystem. Our team has grown with more people from different cultures across the region and shows how diverse Brinc is. With flags now planted in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Oman and Bahrain, we continue to enlarge our MENA footprint. One game-changing project for us here has been NEOM; working with a mega project alongside McLaren allows us to establish ourselves as a respected brand. Together as a global company, success is imminent, as we are tackling the world’s real challenges.”

Karim Banna – Web3 Program Manager, MENA

“This year I’m looking forward to cementing Brinc as the number one Web3 accelerator in the world. We plan to do this by partnering and collaborating with the best minds and innovators in the space, and by building an exceptional platform for founders to accelerate their success.”

Karan Keswani – Managing Director, India

“According to economists, India will be the fastest growing economy in 2023 on the back of prudent financial management by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), strong domestic supply and demand, inclusive government initiatives, and the ‘Make in India’ initiative, which will accelerate the adoption of digital solutions. These will provide opportunities for Brinc to back game changers in its Enterprise SaaS, Web3, food technology and alternate protein verticals. We are expanding our team in India and look forward to addressing India’s unique problems through innovative solutions from resilient and enterprising founders.”

Kenji Yamamoto – Portfolio Director, Singapore

“Despite the challenging market environment, I am encouraged by the continued traction of many of our portfolio companies in fundraising and business development. I anticipate that we will see a number of our companies close growth-stage fundraising rounds, particularly in areas such as cell culture in food tech and metaverse and entertainment applications in blockchain. Additionally, I expect to see a number of strategic investments and commercial partnerships between our portfolio companies and large corporations, many of which are continuing to prioritize research and development and tech commercialization, even in the aftermath of the pandemic. I am optimistic that these developments will result in a few acquisition exits for our portfolio companies over the course of 2023.”

 

What do you hope to see from founders and applicants in 2023?

 

Guillermo Ginesta – Managing Director, Hong Kong

“I think in 2023, founders need to be really resilient and be prepared for an environment where fundraising will be harder, regardless of what they are building. Founders will need to be good builders. What we have previously seen is people building something and then fundraising. Over the last year and a half, they could rely on vision and hype to give the ability to fundraise, and then go build. Now though, we are back to telling them to build something and prove that they have product market fit in order to get money. So I want to see the latter approach more frequently.

“I think there will be consolidation in the market, and that the ‘fluffy’ ideas will disappear. This will result in better, more accurate valuations that make more sense. I think we will need to see founders that are technically savvy but businesses that are prudent, so they are not just burning money in order to hire technical talent just to build. I think it’s about shipping features that make sense, so there is quicker product market fit and quicker commercialization. Companies that are thinking about revenue and keeping an eye on their burn and cash flow will be a lot more successful over the next 12 months.”

Joseph Ho – Program Director (Health Tech), Hong Kong

“Startups globally are realizing the importance of building competitive AND sustainable advantages in their core business. Incorporating and utilizing digital data, and developing a strong user experience are two ways to really differentiate themselves in the marketplace”

Andrew McCarthy – Business Development Manager, Hong Kong

“Innovation waits for no one. Through good and bad times, great companies are built. I hope to see founders continue to push forward through these difficult times. Those who can continue to grind will ultimately be the long-term winners.”

Bashar Aboudaoud – Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, MENA

“In 2023, founders seeking funding will need to have a clear, compelling vision for their business, as well as a deep understanding of their unit economics and a well-defined go-to-market strategy. With market conditions expected to be challenging, funding will likely be more scarce, making it very important for founders to effectively utilize the resources they have available.”

Karim Banna – Web3 Program Manager, MENA

“I hope to see founders who know how to articulate and visualize the problem they are trying to solve within five minutes. I’m also looking for projects that can organically build some sort of community or traction without the need for a massive marketing budget. It’s always exciting seeing startups that can bootstrap traction.”

Milan Thakkar – BrincArtesian Principal, Singapore

“We invest in relentless and resilient founders who are able to quickly iterate and refine their products to solve a genuine customer pain point. Rather than relying on static, point-in-time data, we are looking to evaluate a founder’s agility, business progress and rate of improvement. Founders who are able to quickly adapt will thrive despite challenging funding circumstances.”

Kenji Yamamoto – Portfolio Director, Singapore

“In 2023, we hope to see founders hold a higher level of financial discipline, given the current market conditions where VC funding may be tightened. It is important for founders to articulate ‘why now’ to raise funds, while it is difficult to earn higher valuation and have well-defined capital deployment plans under multiple future scenarios. We also strongly encourage founders from diverse backgrounds to apply to our accelerator programs. At Brinc, the door is equally open to founders of all geographical, academic, and demographic backgrounds, as long as they meet other application criteria.”

 

What do you predict startups and founders will encounter in 2023? What will they produce? What will they be focusing on for the future?

 

Guillermo Ginesta – Managing Director, Hong Kong

“I think we will probably see an exit in our portfolio, and that the companies performing well and are fundraising successfully will start approaching the point where they become really interesting acquisition targets for corporations.

“There are instances of companies looking to quickly ‘gobble up’ technology or talent, feeling that they are in danger of falling behind competitors in evolving industries, such as certain meat companies that know that they are behind alternative meat competitors. For them to acquire one of our alternative protein startups makes a lot of sense. There’s a hunger for IP and talent.

“And we have a number of really good companies in this space. I think we will probably start seeing price parity for alternative meats as well — where a strong food technology company can start thinking about commercializing at scale for end consumers to really consider alternative meats. Whether plant-based, cultivated, or using precision fermentation, a few things need to happen.

“Firstly, the price point has to compare with what you get now. Secondly, consumer education has to be good enough. Finally, a startup needs to be able to manufacture at scale, because it’s inevitable that alternatives take over as meat is expensive, has a negative impact to the environment, requires animal suffering, causes greenhouse emissions, and so on. So when we all finally understand that this is not sustainable, it will get to the point where we will see a lot of our companies on the shelves. I think that probably — and hopefully — happens towards the end of this year; sooner than we expected.

“Unfortunately we will see one or two more crazy environmental effects as a result of the pandemic, like drought or famine, because food supply systems are broken and climate tech has not received the attention it deserves or requires. Unfortunately, other players are looking at this from a carbon credit perspective, and that’s a really bad way of doing things.”

Nicole Lee – Food Tech Program Manager, Hong Kong

“I am excited to see the next generation of food tech companies come online. These companies will be focused on having clear technical defensibility and scale-up potential. Categorically, these companies could be working on proprietary processes to produce tastier, more affordable alternative protein. We could also be seeing novel ingredients for enhanced nutrition utilizing agrifood side streams. In terms of data and software, food waste management platforms or AI software could also come into play as the need for health and sustainability becomes increasingly vital.”

Joseph Ho – Health Tech Program Director, Hong Kong

“We will see new startups that are utilizing health data and Web3 as part of their core strategies. As a result, new business models in new segments will emerge. For instance, monetizing data privacy is happening right now, with a European healthcare platform providing a unique healthcare solution (utilizing blockchain) connecting patients, hospitals and corporations. Exciting!

“We will see startups forming partnerships with both traditional (governments and big corporations) and emerging companies (digital native startups) to define new solutions or disrupt existing business models.”

Janina Motter – Sustainability Program Manager, Hong Kong

“I predict that novel carbon dioxide removal (CDR) approaches relying on catalysts, membranes, biochemistry and/or electrochemistry will take off in 2023. I can also foresee an increased focus on adaptation and resilience, particularly around critical minerals and water.

“Regionally, I hope to see more solutions for waste inputs, building materials, tackling methane, and other systems approaches to agriculture’s climate impact. Meanwhile, dry powder, the US’s inflation reduction act, and people switching their careers to climate-conscious ones should create noticeable positive headwinds in the tough market globally.”

Shirley Feng – Web3 Program Manager, Hong Kong

“We are seeing a lot of Web3 projects in the social media and culture sector. People are trying to build products that matter to everyday users, like music and video platforms, and loyalty program tools. Education is key. We are already seeing many large corporations understanding the advantages and taking the lead to utilize Web3 technologies. With more and more businesses being onboarded, these projects will play a large part in bringing in the next million users to the Web3 world.”

Karim Banna – Web3 Program Manager, MENA

“I predict that upcoming Web3 projects will build more seamless user experiences. There will be a shift from using terms like NFTs and metaverse to focusing on onboarding Web2 users in ways that mean they don’t necessarily have to know that they are on a blockchain but will realize the intrinsic value it provides.”

Milan Thakkar – BrincArtesian Principal, Singapore

“I am excited to see more companies from India solving real-world problems. More investors are focusing on India, and its demographic and macroeconomic trends seem ripe for innovation. For example, the median age is 28 years old, GDP per capita is expected to more than double (from US$2K to 5K) in the 2020s, and the country produces more computer science graduates than the US. This means consumers will be of working age, have a higher willingness to pay for services, and have the ability to build companies to capitalize on that increasing demand.”

Castor Hui – Corporate Innovation Director, Hong Kong

“It is difficult to recall a time when we have experienced back-to-back economic crises on a global scale. From surviving the pandemic and navigating supply chain constraints, to scenario planning for the energy crisis, the past three years were definitely challenging for most organizations. Corporations were either thrust into digital transformation out of necessity or had to rethink how to address changing consumer behaviors. In that process, corporations had to solve new problems with new tools, and at its core, innovation is about solving problems. Therefore there is no better time than now to double down on innovation and carry forward the resilience and agile thinking we have learned to embrace.”

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