If three is a crowd, then five must be a party! Day 5 was for making connections for the startups through a TiE Singapore event that brought various parties together.
Day 5 was dedicated to networking, where the startups met over 60 entrepreneurs, investors and subject experts who came down for the TiE panel discussion on how to raise funding. The session was opened by warm words from Tie Chairman, Puneet Pushkarna, followed by a short introduction of each of the panel members.
The six panelists and one moderator represented various elements of the startup funding ecosystem, making the session relevant for startups at various levels of maturity. They included:
Tan Yinglan, who has been the first Director of 3i Venturelab China, a joint-venture between private equity firm 3i and INSEAD. Currently, he is Venture Partner at Sequoia Capital. Roshni Mahtani, who is the CEO and Founder of Tickled Media, the publisher of theAsianparent.com. Her company raised over a million dollars in seed funding from prominent angel investors and a family office. She also sits on the Board of TiE Singapore and is a mentor at JFDI, where she works with early-stage startups.
Entrepreneurs were also represented by Tudor Coman, CEO and Co-founder of Flocations, a travel planning online service which closed a round of financing of US$600,000 last year. Other esteemed panelists were Murli Ravi, Independent Director and Investor; Anuj Srivastava, Founding Partner of Jungle Ventures; and Meng Weng Wong, Co-founder and Social Engineer of JFDI.Asia.
The panelists were moderated by Raghav Kapoor, Investor and Entrepreneur. Singapore-based Kapoor sits on the Board of several startups and is the Managing Director of Religare Capital Markets, where he has been ranked as the Number 1 stock-picker in Asia for three consecutive years.
Surawat Promyotin, popularly known as Sam, from Obilis, one of the JFDI acceleration companies from Thailand, brought up an interesting point during the discussion. He asked for the panelists’ thoughts on the localisation of business concepts versus innovation of disruptive technologies — which would be preferable? The panelists generally agreed that the two perceived extremes are not mutually exclusive and encouraged individuals to decide for themselves which would be better based on their own business. However, they also commented that second movers are not necessarily at a disadvantage, citing examples where adapting a big idea locally have worked.
Many of the JFDI accelerator companies felt that the session was helpful to them and many approached the speakers for insights on their businesses after the panel discussion.
These discussions would help shed light on what venture capitalists really think about the business model of the accelerators, as well as the biggest threats, increasing their odds of getting funded on demo day.
I spoke to some of the participants after the session; many thought it was time well spent. Some of their take-aways include being able to decide when a startup should approach investors for funding. One of the them thought that the most interesting part of the panel discussion was about crowdsourcing. Companies like Kickstarter are disrupting the way funding is conducted, allowing entrepreneurs to gauge market demand from consumers in advance.
Personally, for me, the discussion on the entrepreneurial startup maturity between Singapore and countries such as Israel and US was interesting. Apparently, in Southeast Asia, more companies invent disruptive models of conducting business. However, in Silicon Valley, it is more for startups with disruptive technologies. When asked if Singapore could eventually mature to such a state, TiE Chairman Pushkarna said that the city-state no doubt is showing enthusiasm for it, but it may take some time before the system can naturally evolve.