Notes from the road, Day #2

Notes from the road, Day #2

Today we had investor meetings, visited corporate innovation offices and did a quick stop-over at the Singapore Management University.

In the morning we’ve started off with the Enterprise Singapore presenting governmental support schemes for startups. Next we met with Tushar Desai, co-founder of Rytle. Rytle is an integrated mobility solution for the last mile delivery. It includes electric cargo bike with an exchange function for standardized transport boxes, self-sufficient mobile container and software to manage the routes and flow of parcels. Rytle went through the German Accelerator program and is now settling in Singapore. Tushar has stressed that for a startup to succeed, they need feet on the ground, building relationships and mentioned the value GASEA has brought in by opening doors for them.

German Accelerator Southeast Asia, was launched last year with the aim of helping German startups expand to the region. Petrina Seah, COO, has emphasized the importance of adjusting the product and business model to the local market and going away from the ‘cookie-cutter’ approach. In Rytle’s case, this meant developing a cold chain box for the tropical climate together with Composite Cluster, a Singaporean company. 

 

 

 

The highlight of the evening was the investor roundtable with Grace Xia, Jungle Ventures, Christopher Aw, Pandan Ventures and Damian Tan, Vickers Venture Partners. Many funds in Singapore started with $20-30 million 10 years ago and now are managing $200-300 mln. Vickers’ first fund in 2005 was $9 mln and now they manage $183 million, being one of the most successful funds in the world.

Damian Tan, MD, Vickers Venture Partners is thinking big: “Singapore speaks the language of the internet, and the language of the internet is English and free trade. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia should be a good focus in the coming years for startups.”

Christopher has mentioned that the biggest difference between ASEAN VCs and European is that sometimes family offices are branded as VCs.  While there’s nothing wrong with that, the founders need to carefully study the term sheets – it’s not uncommon to be asked for 51% of equity in the seed round.  However, this occurs less and less and there are many other offers on the market.

Among other things, the conversation touched the talent shortage in Singapore. While the university students are highly skilled, the demand outweighs the supply. Especially acute the problem is for big startups, as very few people have the experience of bringing company from series B to the next level. High caliber talent is headhunted globally, existing unicorns are a local talent pool, as well as Google and Microsoft that brought in foreign staff.

To wrap up, all panelists spoke about the traits of a great entrepreneur.

Grace has singled out curiosity, deep insight into their industry, deep understanding of a pain point in the market and being creative with solutions as the core traits. Christopher has added humility to the list, mentioning that there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
All investors have agreed that being accessible to startups, speaking at events is the way to go, strong well-connected ecosystem benefits everyone.
Wednesday is the last day to satisfy our curiosity about Singapore and on Thursday we’ll dive into Jakarta startup scene.

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