The event was held at the InterContinenetal Hotel in Bugis in Singapore, on the 16th of April 2014. The event started at 9.30 a.m and lasted until approximately 1p.m just after lunch. There was coffee and tea served as well as lunch and dessert.
Session 1 – Interesting Trends
Session 2 – Funding
Session 3 – Winning Strategies
Session 4 – The Future of E-Commerce
The event was divided into 4 sessions. The first session, titled ‘Interesting Trends’ was discussed by panelist John Fearson, Founder of GHX, Mike Holt, CEO of ConnectedHealth, Grace Sai, Co-Founder of The Hub Singapore and Chia Ling Koh, Partner, ATMD Bird & Bird LLP. Some of the topics talked about in session 1 were what are some of the interesting trends of new startups in South East Asia, how does Singapore compare to some of the startup scenes regionally, whether Singapore will be the next Silicon Valley and what are some of the implications of the growing startup ecosystem in Singapore, for example in terms of BLK 71 startup community, mentor network, founder institute, and co-working spaces.
The second session titled ‘Funding’ was debated by panelist Eric Tachibana, Founder and Managing Director of eXtropia Holdings, Jack Wang, Director of Lexico Holdings, Marcus Chow, Partner of ATMD Bird & Bird LLP and Pieter Kemps, Principal, Business Development & Venture Capital, APAC – Amazon Web Services. Some of the discussion topics talked about were how to scale a startup business without going oversees, how to master the art of raising funds from the seed stage to VC stage, can bootstrapping be a viable option when you failed to receive funding, does raising millions guarantee your startup success, what are the new and rising challenges that startup are facing these days, how is the fundraising situations in Singapore currently, government grants vs private investors – which is better and what kinds of government funds are available, as well as what are some of the modalities of investment in Singapore for corporate structure.
The third session titled ‘Winning Strategies’ was brought on by panelist Craig Hewett, Co-founder & Chief Commercial Officer of Wego Pte Ltd, Cole Sirucek, Co-founder & Chairman of DocDoc and Adelina Peltea, Vice President of Marketing from TradeGecko. Some of the topics discussed were whether founders should step down for a full-time CEO, how can startups win the war for talents, how to find the right business partner, where to start with online marketing – what works and what doesn’t’, how to build your team and internal culture and how to refine your strategy, value proposition as well and the move to monetisation.
And lastly, the fourth session titled ‘ The future of E-Commerce’ discussed by panelist Roger Egan, a client of ours, Founder of RedMart, Renee Lodgens, Founder & Managing Director of Travelshopa, Nicole Fall, CEO of Asian Consumer Intelligence and Alexia Sichere, Founder & Managing Director of Foxysales. The main topics discussed were recruiting new customers in e-commerce, what are the available options for the market, the lead generation marketing through viable option in Singapore and the future of e-commerce.
Thought the best session was the third session,‘Winning Strategy.’ Really learned a lot from Cole Sirucek’s response to the startup culture as well as whether or not you should step down and hire a CEO. According to him, it’s necessary first and foremost to hire a person who does not have immense interest in starting something of his own, also known as Entrepreneur DNA. His reason is simple, a person who has an interest of starting something on their own will most likely not have the full interest to work in your company. They are very likely to leave sooner and not put your company’s interest first.
The reply from Adelina Peltea, Vice President of Marketing from TradeGecko, responded that, CEOs are still very much hands on even TradeGecko’s Co-founder and CEO, Cameron Pierce is still very much into the business. It is important to have that even-though in a startup environment.
When asked the panelist on where the money can be found in Singapore, there was no clear and definite answer. Also, Grace Sai failed to answer on which are some of the successful startups within The Hub Singapore. Felt that her response didn’t quite answer the questions dedicated to her.
In the fourth session ‘the Future of e-commerce,’ Roger Egan founder of RedMart answered some very good questions on funding and the most popular discussion was from the second session ‘Funding’. Jack Wong and Eric Tachibana did an excellent job in providing information on what are some of the most important things that investors look for from their point of view. Although differing opinions from Jack Wong who stated that “VC’s who are already successful in business themselves are more interested in helping potential candidates develop their idea and materialize their startup business.” He said that most VC’s are more keen in building relationships with their potential candidate and helping them achieve their goals more so than the return on investment itself. Pieter Kemps, Principal, Business Development and Venture Capital from Amazon Web Services, said otherwise, that most VC’s are looking for their return on investment and exit strategies, because all VC’s are out there to make money and building relationships are not necessarily that important. However, I think I agree most with Eric Tachibana, Founder & Managing Director of eXtropia Holdings, saying that it it the business model and the execution which determines the decision of a VC on whether or not they want to invest in your business. He said to succeed you’ll need not only a competitor advantage but a strong business model as well and how you would monetize your business and your exit strategy. All VC’s are looking to make money and for them it’s more than just an idea that they are willing to invest in.