Smartkarma, the Spotify of Asian Research, Raises $4.7 Million

  • Singapore research startup raises second round of financing
  • Investors include Wavemaker Partners, Jungle Ventures

Smartkarma, a service that provides institutional investment research on demand, has raised $4.7 million from investors including Wavemaker Partners LLC and Jungle Ventures to expand its business.

The second round of financing brings total capital raised to $7.5 million, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Other participants in the round included a group led by Koh Boon Hwee, former chairman of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.

Founded in 2014 by Singapore-based financiers Raghav Kapoor, Jon Foster and Lee Mitchell, Smartkarma is part of a wave of startups targeting Asia’s financial industry. It wants to improve the way institutional investors create, distribute and consume investment insights by allowing them to post their views on its platform -- and get paid.

A handful of companies globally are trying to come up with online research products. They include AIREX Markets in the U.S. and ERIC, a free research marketplace co-founded by former CLSA strategist Russell Napier. What differentiates Smartkarma, according to co-founder Foster, is that its business model is more akin to Spotify than iTunes, Apple’s for-purchase content store.

Clients such as hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds and asset managers subscribe to Smartkarma’s service, paying an annual fee to access everything from the outlook for India’s banking industry to insights on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. stock. It currently serves about 140 institutions, the company said.

“We are the only research-streaming service on the planet,” Foster said, choosing the Spotify analogy.

Smartkarma has signed up about 80 institutions as contributors, including Morningstar Inc. Analysts such as Centennial Group director Manu Bhaskaran and Daniel Tabbush, former head of Asian bank research at CLSA, have also been added to the service.

“I like the idea of a platform for independent research that can be made available to a wide community, not just fund managers,” said Bhaskaran, an economist of 36 years. “The concept is good, short commentary but enough to give readers a clear view of developments.”

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