Rejection by one venture capitalist may not come as a discouragement and investors are looking to explore new areas like cloud development, big data and analytics; however, one thing that deters investors in Singapore is the amount of paperwork involved.
These were some of the key points emerging from the panel discussion at Capital on Stage, a day-long conference on funding, held in Singapore today.
Previously held in London and Berlin, the Singapore leg of the conference saw some 140 startup founders and investors gather in the island country to see the traditional pitching session reversed.
In the morning, entrepreneurs were given two meetings each with investors to talk about future prospects. Not only could entrepreneurs choose who they wanted to grill over breakfast and coffee, later on in the day founders were able to hear from these investors over a five-minute pitch on stage.
Out of 12 investors, four were then selected to participate in a panel discussion. The four investors were: Joyce Ng from iGlobe Partners, Patrick Tham from Japan-based Recruit Group, Saemin Ahn from Japan-based Rakuten Ventures, and Leslie Loh from Singapore-based Red Dot Ventures.
What are you interested in?
Patrick shared that Recruit Group is focused on traditional strengths like real estate and travel, even though the group does think there are opportunities in other areas. Rakuten, on the other hand, has an eye for cloud development and data compression.
Leslie told the audience that Red Dot Ventures has wide interests, ranging from digital media, clean technology to engineering, but the focus was on big data and analytics.
Should you invest in Singapore?
Is Singapore the optimal place to start or invest in? Grants given by the government has often been cited as an advantage, but Joyce shared that the startups she had spoken to were often deterred by the massive paperwork that they had to complete. She advised that these startups should take a look at the available grants and then move on with Series A investors who will have more money to take their ideas to the commercial market as it is “very worthwhile”.
Saemin from Rakuten agreed that the government is indeed doing a good job. He quipped, “In terms of why I am here, it’s one of the most diverse places. It’s like I’m looking at a Getty image (for diversity) and you can buy it for 20 dollars.”
While Singapore is considered a small market with 5.312 million residents, Saemin shared that it can be a good thing. He said, “It’s the realization, the market is too small; so you’re building global from the start.” Leslie chimed in, “The only downside is that it’s small. That’s a test bed and test beds can be small. To start, it’s a good place, but to scale, it’s a different issue.”
Kiss and tell
What if you get rejected by one venture capitalist? Will word spread that you’re not good enough for funding? Joyce shared that this might be a myth. She said, “We’re all pretty independent. We all do our own due diligence. We’re professional enough. It’s why iGlobe syndicates and that’s the best way for us at this current moment.”
Saemin had a slightly different take on the matter. He said that he does discuss such matters with friends who are investors. He added, “There are a couple of people in the VC circle that I love to talk with. A lot of times when they ask me if I invested in a startup and if I say no, they would ask why.” However, this does not mean your potential investor will give you up after hearing rejection stories from other funders. In fact, different investors have varying outlooks on markets and it all depends on the sort of startup you are.
In the Picture above: (Right to Left – Joyce Ng from iGlobe Partners, Patrick Tham from Japan-based Recruit Group, Saemin Ahn from Japan-based Rakuten Ventures, Leslie Loh from Singapore-based Red Dot Ventures and the moderator of the panel)