The highlights of the panel
Updated: Jan 25, 2019
We wanted to summarise the wisdom our panellists shared with us if you couldn't make it to the event. And you're welcome!
About the investments in Asia:
Asia has more B2C startups as 60% of the population is unbanked, versus more developed markets like Europe and the U.S. It's an exciting investment opportunity, but culturally Asian markets are very different.
Despite the attractiveness, it's not an easy playground for the investors as there are less experienced entrepreneurs who've "been there done that" and had successful exits. Also, the availability of the talent to execute these ideas is very limited so the startups are hunting for the same talent pool.
Another challenge is that often times you need to educate the consumers about the products which are already mainstream in other markets and it can be expensive as you need to play a thought leader and to be a transactor at the same time. The spectrum of the consumers ranges from people not even knowing they have a problem that you're representing the solution for and there is no other solution that exists, to people knowing they have a problem and they know the solution exists, and there are a few of them, so it becomes a pricing or features game.
Hints for the pitch:
Three main things we want to see in the deck, even if it's just 3 slides - People, Product, Market. Some want to see also three "X-factors" - Humour, a certain level of nerdiness and a sense of calling, e.g.“Whether you like it or not, I'm going to solve this problem as sure as the grass is green!”
Share your background and experience of your team at the beginning of your pitch. It will make it easier to assess the match between your credentials and the expertise required to carry on the business, build respect and understand your level when asking the questions later on.
The tendency is to talk about the product, but we invest in companies. Put yourself in the mindset of the investor and focus on the opportunity the investment represents in terms of a return, instead of why your product is better. No one gets money after a three minutes pitch. The whole point is to create an interest to start a dialogue.
Investors sometimes meet 10-20 companies a week and remember just 2-3 facts about them. Make sure that these few main facts are properly conveyed, build your presentation around it, so you're in control!
Sophistication versus being naive - do your homework, know your competitors, what is happening in the industry, what's around the corner. Investors want to be confident that you know what you're doing and not just focusing on your product. It's an international investment arena and the competition is high!
Remember, VC’s are doing the same thing - meeting LP's all the time raising capital, presenting decks, etc. So, everyone is salespeople and it's very difficult to sell to salespeople!
Energy is the key and how you come across is what investor will take away.
It's important to find the right investor, with whom you will have a great synergy to develop your business. You cannot please everyone, so relax and be yourself, see if there is a match.
If the chemistry is there, good investors identify the gaps that need to be filled and if this what they can offer apart from the capital?
People are selfish, the best motivation to invest is when they want to be a part of this story!
If you're not passionate about what you do, then you won't be able to sell your business to the clients and attract the team. BUT, we don't invest just in passion and it's not good when the entrepreneur is in love with his/her idea. Investors always think “Will we be able to make a lot of money together?”
The pitch is like a trailer to a movie. Everybody experienced seeing a great trailer to a crap movie, right?
And unlucky 13 is “Don't end your pitch with the "Jesus pose"! :)
About the company valuation:
Stage-based approach - just an idea / the product is ready and MVP is built / revenue-generating (or not).
Geographical differences, as the same stage startups in Indonesia, Cambodia or Vietnam are much cheaper than those based in Singapore. Many are incorporated here because the valuation is much higher. At the same time, what the investor would expect to see as 2-3 mil valuation company in a Silicon Valley is a 10 mil valuation company in Singapore.
Be fair in your estimation to raise as much as you need to get traction, as more time you spend fundraising, the less time you have to focus on your product. So after the initial meeting where we, hopefully, liked your product, we want to see the numbers behind and have a conversation to test each other's assumptions.
Absolute no-go from the entrepreneurs?
Getting defensive! - Investors wanna help, and when giving their feedback, they're trying to fix the problem together. Nobody has a plan to reject your pitch or they wouldn't confirm the meeting! Being defensive shows how you handle difficult situations
Don’t burn the bridges! You might talk to the same investors in a year or two as your idea or business evolves. It's a journey!
It's a very small industry and investors talk and share information, so develop your relationships and think about the reputation.
The full video of the panel is available on our YouTube channel