The 5 Hottest Non-Tech Startups in Southeast Asia 2018

man studying startup ideas

The term “Startup” is too often conveniently associated with technology. Indeed in today’s age, technology have become an integral part of our lives, and the inspiring stories of Facebook, Uber or Airbnb (among others) have made venturing into the field more attractive and exciting than ever. However, contrary to general perception, startups encompass more than just software, apps or artificial intelligence.

According to Neil Blumenthal, cofounder of Warby Parker, it is “a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed”. A startup is basically any young emerging business that is looking to innovate with high potential and designed to deliver a new product or service.

Related: The Unicorns of Southeast Asia: Meet the CEOs Behind Indonesia’s 4 Biggest Startups

Here’s our list of the 5 hottest non-tech startups across the Southeast Asia region. In this context, we define non-tech startups as businesses that do not fully rely on their technology layer to operate and interact with customers. Successful non-tech startups rely on the ability to build relationships, rather than solely on technology.

Insights on 5 Hottest Non-Tech Startups in ASEAN

1. Hubba Thailand

Founded: Hubba was founded in 2012 by Amarit Chareonphan and Charle Charoenphan.

Funding: Hubba secured $350,000 in pre-Series A round led by 500 Startups, Ardent Capital, Golden Gate Ventures, and several Thai high-profile startup founders and angel investors in October 2015.

hubba website homepage

Hubba is the first and largest co-working space and community in Thailand for startup entrepreneurs, innovators and professionals.  With a mission to drive and bring out the best local startups and entrepreneurs in the region, Hubba offers everything from full-service meeting rooms and inspired co-working areas to professional support and events to support and accelerate businesses towards success. Hubba currently serves over 12,000 members in 10 locations and are planning to expand across Southeast Asia.


2. Nuren

Founded: Nuren was founded in 2013 by CEO Petrina Goh, CTO Kelvin Leow, COO Stacey Lee, and CSO Alice Ong.

Funding: Combined with its seed round, Nuren raised a total of $2.25 million in Series A round lead by Gobi Partners.

nuren website homepage

Nuren Group is a Malaysian-based company that runs community sites related to wedding and parenting for women. Since its launch, Nuren has served over 300,000 couples and connected them with 1,500 vendors. Nuren Group focuses on gathering related vendors and services under one roof to enable users to shop online and explore suitable products. In line with the company’s goal to serve 8 out of 10 brides in Southeast Asia, Nuren aims to penetrate the markets in Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia.


3. Aothun

Founded: Aothun was founded in 2009 by Truong Tran.

Funding: No funding has been disclosed so far.

aothun website homepage

Aothun is a Vietnam-based startup focusing on the business of T-shirt design and printing. Since its establishment in 2009, Aothun has become the largest T-shirt making and printing company in Vietnam. Currently, Aothun has two manufacturing factories and a sales office located in the central area of Ho Chi Minh city.


4. Trail Adventours

Founded: Trail Adventours was founded in October 2010 by brothers Guido Sarreal and Coby Sarreal.

Funding: No funding has been disclosed so far.

trail adventours website homepage

Trail Adventours is an adventure travel startup established and currently based in the Philippines. Trail Adventours currently operates with a team of approximately 60 trained tour guides, specialising in guided hikes in over 40 locations across the Philippines and 6 locations abroad. With its current local tours being well established, the brothers are now planning to expand their business to include more international tours.


5. Grdient

Founded: Grdient was founded in June 2016 by Jonathan Chua.

Funding: No funding has been disclosed so far.

grdient website homepage

Grdient is an education startup that focuses on aiding students in learning relevant startup skills in anticipation of tomorrow’s economy. Grdient offers an intensive full-time program that enables its graduates to pursue enhanced working experiences, develop an innovative mindset, and lead the future of the innovation economy. Faculty members of Grdient include startup practitioners and world-class mentors who are able to impart their firsthand knowledge of the fast-paced startup ecosystem to the students.

Related: Looking Ahead to 2018: Five Emerging Startups in Myanmar

We hope enjoyed learning about the stories about the Southeast Asia’s hottest non-tech startups. Are there any other similar startups that we should write about? Let us know in the comment section. 


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness


  1. i am a start up.i would like to competite in u non tech start up .so pls reply me and when will start it again .?what kind of things or presentation or document i need to pay ? How i will prepare for this stat up competition 2019 ?


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