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MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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Startup Homage's CEO Gillian Tee to talk about fundraising landscape

Catch her at the SBR Hottest Startups Panel Briefing 2017.

Gillian Tee is the co-founder and CEO of Homage, a one-stop senior home care solution that combines trained and curated caregivers with smart on-demand technology, allowing seniors to age at home with grace, control and dignity. Homage is currently backed by top venture capital firms 500 Startups, Golden Gate Ventures and SeedPlus. Prior to Homage, she co-founded Rocketrip, a Y-Combinator and Bessemer Ventures-backed startup that's raised more than 18M USD and grew it till profitability.

Based in New York City, Rocketrip is the first commercially available platform to save companies money on travel expenses by rewarding employee behavior used by fortune 500 companies around the world. Prior to Rocketrip, Tee helped manage tech startup investments at an investment firm in New York as well as held various business development, product management and technology leadership positions at Amazon and Accenture. Tee studied Computer Science in University of Melbourne and got a master’s degree from Columbia Business School.

We interviewed Tee to find out more about his thoughts on speaking at the upcoming Singapore Business Review's 20 Hottest Startups Panel Briefing 2017, happening on July 11, 2017, 8:30-11:30AM at the Meeting Room 3345, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

What are your previous experiences and positions held that contributed to who you are as a​n entrepreneur today?

Prior to Homage I started a technology company based in New York and Silicon Valley called Rocketrip that rewards employees for saving on business travel expenses. By allowing employees of the companies we worked with to earn half of whatever they saved, many of them were so motivated to save and grow second livelihoods along the way. The dollar rewards they were receiving were helping pay off their student loans, mortgages and save for their children’s education. In this aspect, I just loved the impact of Rocketrip. To me, my first business was about improving livelihoods and helping people progress and gain a better quality of life. I love businesses that help enable that and impacts people in a meaningful way. It’s the same driving force behind Homage right now.

What are your key business philosophies?

My key business philosophy is to always focus on business fundamentals - really knowing your unit economics and growth - no matter the stage of your company. Other than that, it goes back to having resilience and grit to weather the challenges of running a business. This is particularly crucial for technology startups. The business accelerator Y-Combinator that funded my first company Rocketrip has a term for the modern phenomena where everyone is rushing to found startups due to the media hype. They call it playing the “startup game”, where attending conferences, appearing in press and raising seed venture capital, while helpful, has overshadowed and outweighed the fundamentals of building a business. The media does not focus on all the underlying economics, hardship, real risks and the amount of time it takes to build and scale a company. Nowadays whenever people ask me for advice to give to aspiring technology entrepreneurs, I always urge them to, before they take the leap, learn more about what it involves and figure out if the problem they’re looking to solve with their company is really worthwhile to them, because they will have to devote a good part of their life to the business.

Can you give us a glimpse of what you will talk about at the ​20 Hottest Startups Panel Briefing 2017?

I'd love to cover a few of these topics:
-A balance between the POV of "bootstrapping and minimising dilution" or "over raising to land grab for growth"
-How to know what's the right time to think about raising capital -- from early stage seed fundraising (Homage) to later stage funding (Rocketrip)
-The landscape of fundraising in SEA

The SBR 20 Hottest Startups Panel Briefing will be on July 11 at the Meeting Room 3345, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

If you are interested to attend, you may contact Nikki Quiniquini at nikkiq@charltonmediamail.com or at +65 3158 1386 ext 238.

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