, Singapore

SBR Hottest Startups Panel Briefing 2019 draws over 130 delegates

Topics on the agenda include the road to unicorn status and learning from startup failures.

Singapore Business Review successfully closed the seventh edition of Hottest Startups Panel Briefing 2019 with a jam-packed event at Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview on October 24.

Gathering 134 elite attendees, the event explored prominent issues shaping the startup landscape especially around funding, failure, overseas expansion and the path forward for enterprises seeking to achieve the next level of growth.

Fresh from the memories of the boom-and-bust stories of bike-sharing unicorns, experts dug deep into startup failures and the red flags that characterise a cracking business model. The panel was made up of Keith Tan, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Zeemart, Ting Yan Leck, Partner, Trive, Joeri Gianotten, Partner, AccelerAsia, Ryan Chew, Managing Partner, Tribe Accelerator, Jagmohan Garg, AVP - Business Growth & Strategy, South East Asia, OxfordCaps and Wayne Soh, Director of Investments, Asia Pacific, Plug and Play.

Experts identified product and market fit, team culture and outlined the necessary metrics to determine the sustainability of a business. “Cashflow is an important metric, sometimes over funding,” said OxfordCaps’ Garg.

Businesses that were able to crack the code and achieve billion-dollar valuations were the topic for another insightful panel session which was graced by Shavit Clein, Head of Strategy, Trax, Devina Halim, Associate, East Ventures and Russ Neu, Venture Partner, Impact, Quest Ventures. “Becoming a unicorn was never the mission. It’s about having a business model that can sustain that kind of growth,” Clein of Trax, Singapore’s second unicorn said.

Neu echoed the sentiment as he warns against putting too much premium on lofty valuations that more often than not crumble under the scrutiny of public markets. “Increasingly, people confuse confidence with capability,” he said. “I like to see traction based on real growth you achieved and not just based on scans or data which may or may not be helpful in evaluating a company...Unfortunately, we are now driven by perception.”

Given the critical importance of funding to helping startups grow, Kosuke Sogo, CEO and Co-Founder, AnyMind Group, Alan Jiang, Co-Founder & CEO, Beam, Karissa Adelaide, Associate, Venturra Discovery, Doralyn Chan, Manager, Funding, Entrepreneur First and Christina Teo, CEO & Co-Founder, UCARE.AI explored various sources of financing for startups dreaming to build the next big thing.

“[T]he deepest pockets are gonna be the financial investors,” Alan Jiang, Co-Founder & CEO, Beam. “I think for a business with a large footprint, it’s important to have local allies in every country we go to.”

As fintech accounts for the lion’s share of funding, are other sectors losing out in the process? A report from Accenture notes that investors poured a record US$735m into fintech deals in Singapore in the first nine months of the year alone.

“Money is not really a problem for us, because the business value for us is the local support,” said Andy Li, Founder and CEO, Silot. He was joined in the panel by Yau Teng Yan, Chief Medical Officer, Holmusk, Shermaine Koh, Marketing Director, Igloohome, Amanda Chen, Innovation Associate, Rainmaking Innovation, Edmas Neo, Chief Executive Officer, Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and Ling Min Hoon, Vice President, Reefknot Investments.

The challenge and opportunities of expansion was explored by Kineret Karin, Founder & COO, ImpacTech. Zhaotan Xiao, President, Asia Pacific, RWDC, Kelvin Chng, Co-founder, Carro, Amit Saberwal, Founder and CEO, RedDoorz and Pawan Gandhi, Founder and CEO, KaHa. Experts unanimously stressed the importance of adopting a localised approach to capture overseas opportunities, especially in Southeast Asia.

Matthew Godfrey, CEO, Nutrition Innovation, Neeraj Sundarajoo, Co-Founder & CEO, Zeemart, Eugene Wong, Founder and Managing Director, Sirius Venture Capital, Nigel Teh, Programme Manager, Rainmaking, Christian Cadeo, Managing Partner, Big Idea Ventures and Nesh Sooriyan, Entrepreneur in Residence, Accelerating Asia mapped out the future of the food ecosystem.

The Hottest Startups Panel Briefing is an annual half-day event organised by Singapore Business Review which gathers the biggest names in the local startup scene. Past speakers include Grab, Zalora and Guava Pass.

Interested speakers and sponsors for the event in 2019 may contact Kim Ang at kim@charltonmediamail.com. Startups may reach out to sbr@charltonmediamail.com for editorial opportunities.

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