19 Tech Startups in Emerging Markets and Where They Might Have an Edge


Seedstars World just sent me a list of 19 emerging markets startups that have won its competitions around the world. The Geneva-based company holds competitions for startups; the competitions culminate in an innovation conference in February in Switzerland.

Seedstars World is affiliated with Seedstars, a venture firm. All the companies that make it through the global competitions — this year, there will probably be about 35 companies — and receive an invitation to the conference get exposure to European and U.S. financiers. The overall winner gets a $500,000 investment from Seedstars.

As Seedstars World CFO Charlie Brown-Parker explained, Seedstars, the parent venture firm, wanted to be able to identify emerging markets startups it could invest in — and the competitions offered a method to scout out startups around the world.

Now, Seedstars World is working on a fund and a crowdfunding platform that, later this year, may enable people who aren’t necessarily wealthy to invest in emerging markets startups, too.

“Our aim is to open the fund to the public through a crowdfunding platform combined with investments from accredited investors. We hope to democratize emerging market startup investing with investments from as little as $1k,” Parker-Brown wrote in an email. “Investing in startups in a single country, has become easy enough but it’s time that it was possible to go to one source for curated investment opportunities around the globe.”

You can get a window into the possibilities for disruption  in emerging markets by looking at this list of winners. In the United States, I’ll often find myself writing about highly successful companies in niches — for instance, Loxa Beauty, a great example of a pivot story, and the company solved an important problem for a salons.

But emerging markets startups are vying in much larger markets. The stakes are higher; so are the potential rewards. You can see some of the trends likely to dominate the emerging markets space by looking at the list.