Gerben Visser calls himself a technopreneur! His company, The Singapore FinTech Consortium is a financial technology incubation platform for clients in the region.
What’s your story?
My passion for technology, internet and finance led me to co-found “The Singapore FinTech Consortium.” In addition, I co-founded IncubAsia Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm. I am a board member of Bansea (Business Angels South East Asia) and I am an advisor to a number of early stage tech companies.
Previously, I was in the banking industry for twelve years at RBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup in Amsterdam, New York and London.
What excites you most about your industry?
FinTech is a rapidly expanding, highly innovative and a globally emerging sector. It is starting to transform parts of the financial services industry in a meaningful way. In general, FinTech provides more customer centric, cost effective and scalable solutions for consumers, businesses and even for the incumbent financial service organizations.
What’s your connection to Asia?
We are very bullish in the south east Asian markets and we believe that Fintech is still in its embryonic state. With time, it becomes very impactful, especially in relation to providing financial services to vast numbers of under or non-banked individuals and SMEs.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Obviously Singapore, as that is where we are based! Singapore is a hallmark of development and growth. It is an attractive and efficient place for local and foreign start-ups to scale their products and services. The investment-friendly conditions, legal infrastructure and growing entrepreneurial talent pool has created a conducive start-up environment. Coupled with supportive government bodies, this makes Singapore my favorite Asian city to do business in.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My dad used to say in Dutch, “Niet consumeren maar investeren,” which translates to, “do not consume but invest instead.” This is a fairly typical Dutch mentality that has stuck with me ever since.
Who inspires you?
Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Renaud Laplanche are well-known and highly successful entrepreneurs, who are inspirational for various reasons.
Elon Musk is a visionary individual who has taken tremendous personal risks to build and lead three large enterprises in three different industries, namely SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity.
Mark Zuckerberg is inspirational not only because of the impact that Facebook has on the life of billions of people, but also how he has matured from an entrepreneur into a highly capable CEO.
Renaud Laplanche, CEO of Lending Club has been instrumental in laying the foundations of the peer-to-peer lending industry today.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Blockchain, a relatively new concept, is the underlying technology for most cryptocurrencies, of which Bitcoin is the most well-known among the general public.
In my opinion, Blockchain has the potential to become a key concept in the “internet of finance.” which will publicly decentralise financial operations and processes. Blockchain could become to banks what cloud computing has become to the Internet.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have become an entrepreneur earlier in life. Starting a career in a large corporate organisation gives you good training wheels, but the career prospects as a “technopreneur” is so much more appealing and rewarding to me.
How do you unwind?
Like most, I love doing sports. Before coming to Singapore I did a lot of sailing and skiing, which are, to me, the best ways to clear your head. Now I do my fair share of yoga, swimming and running after my two dogs and daughter.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I have a few favorite Asian destinations including Siem Reap in Cambodia, Kandy in Sri Lanka and Marlborough Sounds in New Zealand. I love visiting Siem Reap for the scenic Angkor temples and beautiful architecture. Kandy, Sri Lanka paints a panoramic and breathtaking view with its extensive tea plantations. And Marlborough Sounds, for its outdoors and wildlife, is something that is difficult to find in the modern cities we live in today.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup. It is a compulsory reading for any entrepreneur, early stage investor or people who want to get a balanced view on what it takes to build a business from scratch. It’s great blend of practical insights is backed up by quantitative data and academic research.
Shameless plug for your business:
The Singapore FinTech Consortium is a FinTech incubation platform. We provide Innovative Advisory, Research and Venture Acceleration to early stage Fintech companies, investors, large financial and government institutions. We are a platform neutral company and are designed to facilitate collaboration between market participants and stakeholders in order to further the development of the FinTech eco-systems in Singapore and South East Asia.
How can people connect with you?
Anyone can contact The Singapore FinTech Consortium, Incubasia Ventures, or myself through our website, email, or our social media channels. Alternatively, you can just drop by our office at 26 Duxton Road, and we will be happy to offer you a cup of coffee and hear you out.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>