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How to get my money: Lessons to learn before stepping into a VC’s Office @Money2020 2018, Singapore

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I was at the Moon room in Money 2020 listening to Fintech startups pitching and learning from veteran entrepreneurs and now investors on what they look for before handing money over. This is some key areas to consider when you next enter a VC’s office

William Bao Bean

General Partner, SOSV, MD, MOX, MD, Chinaccelerator

William is a General Partner at SOSV, a US$300m venture capital fund known as “the Accelerator VC” where he is the Managing Director of Chinaccelerator, SOSV’s global Internet accelerator and the first accelerator in China and Managing Director of MOX, the mobile only accelerator with 130m smartphone users on its platform. SOSV is the #1 most active seed investor in the world according to TechCrunch Crunchbase.

Chinaccelerator charges equity of about 6% for the startups they take into their accelerator to help them scale users and scale across borders. They look for Startups which already break even. Over half of their startups have revenue already and raise rounds. With their placement in China, and the large demographic he said without a sweeping statement “ Some of the Minimum Viable Products that are tested elsewhere, we at Chinaccelerator, can do over a weekend”. We don’t sit on boards, we help them scale and turn them over to a VC that can take boards.

Jeffrey Paine

Managing Partner, Golden Gate Ventures

Jeffrey Paine is the founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures, an early stage technology venture capital fund based in Singapore investing in Southeast Asia with over US$70 million under management. Jeff started and manages the Founder Institute in Singapore where he is currently overseeing its expansion in Southeast Asia, and Japan. Since 2010 the Founder Institute in Singapore has graduated over 100 companies.

Jeffrey reminded the audience that it is harder to raise money currently. And anyone looking for Venture Funding, really need to align and target the right people. Rather than wait till you are fully ready, approach the VCs whenever. He personally wants to get to know the startup for  3-6 months and see them execute. As a general tendency entrepreneurs currently don’t talk to VCs enough, they seemd to be engrossed in their work. However there is a need to talk. Take time off your operations and
need to know people from different ranges in the funding.

Head of Corporate Venture Capital, Hanwha. Hanwha Group is one of the largest conglomerates in Korea and a GLOBAL FORTUNE 250 Company with 60 subsidiaries across 3 main pillars of businesses: Manufacturing · Construction, Finance (AUM of $140Bn), Service · Leisure, JinA Bae also chimed in with Jeffrey’s advice. Since she has to be an internal champion in her corporation, she needs to start such conversations early.

All agreed that they needed to see a startup deliver on their milestones. Once you can get the permission with VC to “spam” them with monthly update. Start that monthly update. This update should read: like datapoints over time. For example, we have achieved x, y, z in the business plan however we only have money for z. Can you help us fund x, something that is working but needs capital to grow. This allows the VCs to feel they know your company more. If they do not hear from you after too long, they assume in this startup race, you may have died!

What is the difference in Fintech Investing in Asia and elsewhere?

Hans de Back

Partner, Finch CapitalHans is a Partner of Finch Capital (previously Orange Growth Capital), an early stage thematic venture capital firm focusing on technology-enabled innovation that brings about the transformation of the financial services sector in Europe and on South East Asia. Hans was involved in the 18 investments Finch Capital made, which includes Zopa, Trussle and Cermati.

The Fintech in South East Asia is fragmented and the Millennial base larger than Europe. As a serial entrepreneur, who co – founded 3 global businesses (Telitas, TMG, CLIQ) with enterprise values totalling EUR 150m+ and took the companies from start-up to exit (IPO or trade sale), his advice is to Master one big market in South East Asia, like Indonesia, since Fintech is not as scalable as it is in Europe. There is money floating around – government, venture etc.

Who is right person to have on your cap table? Ensure you have an Industry expert, a Local Expert
and an Institution.

As things change every 6 months, do check in with what VCs are liking or disliking. Where’s the money? Singapore has funds, next Thailand and then Malaysia. And the latest funds are coming in from Japan and Korea. And Jeffrey predicts that in 18 months we will have more China funds in Singapore too. And now the Big unicorns like Grab and GO-JEK also investing.

JinA Bae says that in most instances, startups still need a warm introduction to enter Asia. For Corporate VCs do establish relationship with corporates early. They are keen on innovation and they have even 3 large corporates coming together in Korea rather than 1 CVC exclusively on a deal.

Money2020 linkhttps://www.money2020.com/

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Daphne Ng, CEO of JEDTrade

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Daphne Ng is the CEO of JEDTrade, a blockchain technology company focused on trade, supply chain, and financial inclusion projects in ASEAN. She is also the Scretary-General at ACCESS and Exco. of Singapore Fintech Association

What makes you do what you do?
I was introduced to blockchain technology in 2016 after I left my corporate banking career after 10 years. It was my mentor who first got me interested in this technology, which I then went on to delve further into, on its potential applications in the lending and trade finance space – domains where I came from.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Being in the space for 2 years and actively involved in the ecosystem, I was able to bring on the projects, network and a good degree of thought leadership in this vertical. Early on in the startup journey, our team faced many challenges. And to me, the key to rising above failures are two essential factors – resilience and support. While resilience is innate, I received a lot of help be it in terms of connections or advice. ‘Nobody succeeds without help’ rings very true for me.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
From the start, I focused on my domain expertise in trade finance and the application construct of how blockchain and DLT can be applied to these use cases. Also, my strategy from the start was to build a technology company made up of 80% tech and engineers, which is also our key competitive advantage today. At the end of the day, deliverables are about strategy and execution, which includes building and leading an ‘A’ team.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have many mentors, which includes our company advisors (all of whom are well-known in this industry) and mostly informal mentors I meet via my connections, and on various occasions and circumstances. Creating opportunities also means putting myself in the right place, at the right time. And in my case, these were mostly organic and genuine friendships formed from the initial connection.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
To me, a match in values is very important. It also takes humility to ask for help and be willing to listen to advice, which is important in order for mentorships to be successful – be it formal or informal.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I love this question! I am passionate about building strong teams and helping my people grow. I abide by the 3Rs when identifying talents: resourcefulness, resilience and right values. And then I invest in the ‘potential’ and this means giving them room to lead, make decisions and take risks.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
My support of diverse talents, skillsets and characters can be seen in the make-up of our core team – all helming specific roles and each bringing their own value to the table. We need the sum of all parts to build a great company.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Great leaders emerge in times of failures and challenges, never abandoning the team, and always putting the team’s interests before her own. And I consciously live by these mottos every day.

Advice for others?
My advice to other entrepreneurs: be resolute and dare to be different. If you are going to follow others, then you will end up on the same path as them. No right or wrong; but I would rather chart my own path. This June, we are officially launching our blockchain project, Jupiter Chain (www.jupiterchain.tech), which have garnered much interest in the industry, even before we made it public. We believe this project is the epitome of marrying innovation with practical implementation, and we want to be the first to truly operationalize blockchain for our ecosystem projects in this region.


If you’d like to get in touch with Daphne Ng, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-ng-%E9%BB%84%E7%91%9E%E7%8E%B2/

To learn more about JEDTrade, please click here.

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Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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